George Lucas Educational Foundation

#ThinkPossible for 21st Century Classrooms

#ThinkPossible for 21st Century Classrooms

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Student using a laptop and textbook

When I decided it was finally time to go back to school for a master’s degree in education, I struggled with my focus. I knew I wanted to study in the Curriculum, Teaching and Learning concentration, but within that enormous field, what would be my area of emphasis?

I met with my advisor a couple weeks before classes started and he suggested I try a new class in Educational Technology. My first response was to shake my head. “No. I’ve been teaching long enough to know there isn’t enough money for technology, and even if I have computers in my classroom, there isn’t enough support to keep them functional.”

"Well,” he said, “why don’t you try just one class and see how it goes? It’s taught by a new professor and she’s really great.”

I left his office discouraged, wondering if the timing was even right for me to do this. I certainly didn’t want to devote time and money to a degree if I wasn’t enthusiastic about the studies.

Fast forward just one week: that new class with the new professor? By the end of the first meeting I was a cautious convert. By the end of the first month I was enthusiastically looking for ways that new technology could revolutionize my students’ traditional paper-and-pencil assignments. By the end of the semester I had written a paper on the powerful potential of blogging in the literature classroom. By the end of my second year I had written $30,000 in grants to bring laptops to my classroom. And by the time I completed my M.A., I was leading the charge in my school and district to outfit classrooms for the 21st century world that our students inhabit. 

Those early years of a 1:1 laptop classroom were not easy. Our district wasn’t providing the kind of technology support necessary to keep my classroom full of writers online all day long, and not everyone was convinced they should be. But thanks to some recognition from the local press, word got out about how devices and the internet were significantly changing how my students were learning and demonstrating their learning. The district began to move in the direction of supporting classroom technology, and now, five years later, we are a 1:1 iPad district with Chromebooks in many classrooms for writing.

I know that I (and my students) are lucky to be in a community that throws so much support behind education; I also know that well equipped classrooms should not be about luck. It may seem an impossible ideal to provide every student and classroom with the technology necessary for the best possible education, but we all need to #ThinkPossible first, to ignore that voice in our head that says, “This will never work! There isn’t enough money!”

Maybe taking that first step towards what seems impossible is what helps us shift towards #ThinkPossible, and then it really does become possible.

This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

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Ryan's picture

Seeing this one to one program work and actually be implemented correctly really makes me happy. When I was in elementary school, we were all assigned laptops but that was before macbooks were really a thing. I wonder if it is because at this point in time that technology is advanced enough to keep up with the teaching practices and can be done correctly? If anybody has insight on the timeline of technology and its classroom implementation it would be awesome if I could see an example.

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Online Community Engagement Manager

Hey Ryan. The interesting thing is that every school and district is going to have its own evolutionary timeline, since much will depend on the resources available to them, as well as the training to make use of those resources.

If you're looking for a general overview, there's a good piece from Purdue that you might find helpful:

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