Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Learning with Laptops and Lanschool

Laptops in the hands of our student present an enormous array of opportunities for learning. They also present several significant challenges that we must work to overcome, especially for those of us who are relatively new to a one-to-one learning environment. There are several things that a teacher can do to maximize the potential for learning and minimize the challenges.

Always begin with the why. Why are students going to be using technology in this lesson? What is the learning?

These questions are the critical first step in defining what you use and how you use it. As you plan your instruction, consider how you're using the technology.  The SAMR model by Dr. Puentedura can help elucidate the different ways we can use technology in learning.

Spacing and Timing
The deployment of technology in time and space in a lesson can eliminate a lot of distraction and maximize the learning.

Time the technology so that it doesn't "compete" with other activities. Maybe that means starting with large group discussion and then breaking out into small group work with the laptops. The leave the laptops in the bag until they actually need them.

It's also important consider the spatial arrangement of the room. When students are working in groups, do the all need to be on their laptops or can you do three or four students to one computer. As Sugata Mitra points out, it can be really effective way to learn with a group of people around asking questions and giving encouragement to the person driving the computer.

A great post was written by Bianca Hewes on Edmodo about matching the physical arrangement to the learning goal in both online and offline learning activities. She advocates for three spaces, though I think you could easily come up with more: The Campfire - a place to learn from experts or storytellers. A place for whole-group discussions, The Watering Hole - a space for small group discourse and collaboration, The Cave - a space for individual study, reflection, quiet reading and creative flow.
Take care to arrange the physical space in your room and choose the right online environments depending on the type of interaction you're looking for.

This is a tool that you can use to accomplish a variety of tools in your class.    
Instant Polling
Share your screen
Share student screen
Blank screens
Control Web access
Control App access
Send/Receive files
Take over student computer
and more. 

There are great tutorials that show you all the features of LanSchool. 
A really important thing to keep in mind however is that there are significant issue with student privacy.  When they join your class, you potentially have access to their entire file structure and could take over control of their machine.  It pays to have a conversation with the students in advance of using LanSchool and to establish with them the "rules of engagement" for using this tool in the class.

How will you use LanSchool in your class?  How are you finding it? Please share by commenting on this post.

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