Building a Culture for One-to-One

Schools designing one-to-one technology plans rightfully spend huge amounts of time and resources in choosing hardware, software and much more. In my previous Blog Post Building a Community for One-to-One, I shared our school’s story of working through some of these details. I’d like to share our experience with the actual roll-out and early elements of success.

A strong culture built around core school values, learning community and celebration were all involved in nex+Gen’s story of success.  At the core of our one-to-one program was an integration with our wall-to-wall project and problem based learning model. Through our partnership with the New Tech Network, we found frameworks, tools and pedagogy for building our own unique program. These core values were co-created by our students and teachers and were endorsed school wide.

Many schools around the country grapple with the idea of loaning computer hardware. Questions of theft, loss, damage and safe use of the computer online are very serious issues to be addressed. Our approach to these issues started with the New Tech Schools model. In that model schools maintain a culture that promotes trust, respect and responsibility. Student and teachers alike have exceptional ownership of the learning experience and their school environment.

This focus relates to every part of school community. At nex+Gen we have something called a ‘passport’ which allows students to move freely around the school. Our school was designed with “cubbies” instead of rows of lockers. Additionally, our classrooms or ‘learning studios’ have no doors.

A key to our success was building a strong learning community using our New Tech School’s learning management tools combined with other tools such as Gmail, Word, Presentation, and Chat. Our teachers updated their knowledge and skills sets to integrate these tools into their projects. They created electronic repositories or ‘briefcases’ online where students had direct access to workshops, readings and resources for projects. As a result, students became more engaged and accountable for their place in the learning community. Rarely were laptops taken for granted. Instead, they became a trusted tool to be used when needed. 

We believed that by setting high expectations and providing specific activities on core values we that we would build an effective culture within our learning community. This supports our quality one-to-one model and creates an academic environment best suited for developing students for college and career.

Nex+Gen has thrived in many ways over the past 4 years. Our school has high comparable test scores to other well performing districts. Students’ technology use shows evidence of highly effective collaboration skills, inquiry and analysis. We involve community members and have students present projects showcasing their communication skills.  When distributing computers, we had a ceremony that included our friends from Dell, Intel, local vendor TIG and our superintendent Winston Brooks. With a properly cared for laptop at the ready, all of this and much more has been possible for our students.

Learn more about nex+Gen: Videos illustrating important elements of nex+Gen's one-to-one rollout - August 2010 and February 2011  

Dr. Michael Stanton is the Founding Principal and Director of nex+Gen Academy, a small School of Choice in Albuquerque Public Schools. nex+Gen is a member of the New Tech Network. He earned his Ph.D in 2009 from the University of New Mexico, College of Education in Organizational Learning and Instructional Technology with a minor in Educational Leadership. His school is an Exemplary School and Demonstration Site for wall-to-wall project and problem based learning, smart use of technology in a 1 to 1 setting, and a learning community and cultural that develops and supports core values and enduring skills in agency, collaboration, inquiry and analysis, and communication.

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