Edutouring 2.0 - iDreaming at San Antonio Elementary School

San Antonio is a low decile elementary school in San Jose. Whilst it is a long established school, it was in a sense recreated two years ago with new buildings and the launch of the iDream programme. The programme involved funding from Apple for a full technical set up across the school, including wifi infrastructure, Promethean whiteboards in every room and all students being provided with either iPods or iPads in school time. Like the school we visited before it, and much like many of the schools in NZ, San Antonio was at the beginning of implementing change, enabled by technology.

In terms of preparing staff, teachers at San Antonio had a week of training with a MacBook and iPads. They were shown how to use a range of apps. The school now has an Apple Resource teacher to support staff. Initially the IDream programme was meant to be able to offer a full time Apple support person and days of professional development. But like so many promising initiatives this dwindled actually down to 16 days of a Apple resource person on staff. Now it's down to staff to work out best use. The technical support person is at district office, working across 25 schools.

Students don't have the device at home, they are kept in the lock box over night.

In terms of student use, they would usually spend 25-30% of the day using devices with 5th graders using iPads 50-60% of the day. This certainly represented the tiny snapshot we saw whilst touring the hallways of San Antonio. The last class of our tour was definitely the highlight - a groups of 4th and 5th graders passionate about learning and equally passionate about their iPads. As we walked into the room we were greeted by an enthusiastic young man desperate to share us his iMovie about his culture, another young lady was desperate to share her inquiry project and then a third wanted to demonstrate how she was using EduCreations and KeyNote to show her working in Math. These students were awesome and there was no denying that technology (undoubtedly supported by an excellent passionate teacher) was playing a central role in igniting the students passion for learning.

At the moment teaching and learning across the school hasn't really changed, the Principal was the first to acknowledge this. However, like any good school the Principal was looking at ways that they could move along the SAMR continuum. Adding to the challenge of leading change, there was also the issue of disconnectedness at home - students were unable to take devices home (as letting them do so in he past had resulted in damage and loss) and most homes had no access to the Internet at home. I couldn't help feeling like this school needed to talk to the Manaiakalani Cluster who strike me as dealing with a similar community and similar challenges. It also made me reflect upon how fortunate we are in NZ in terms of the ground swell around using Teaching as Inquiry as a means of lead change, particularly as I could see the challenges that they were facing in realising that technology doesn't change pedagogy....changing pedagogy changes pedagogy....if that makes sense. Added to these challenges was also the fact that the iDream programme really only funded the set up, the challenge of sustaining the immense shift taking place was purely in the hands of the school and community.

I sort of got the sense that, unless they work bloody hard, this school may be be forced to wake up from their iDream.


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