Iowa State leaders partner with Iowa schools to host state's first 1:1 Institute

AMES, Iowa -- "1:1" laptop programs -- the practice where school districts provide each student with a laptop to be used throughout the school year, both at school and at home -- are on the rise among K-12 school districts. So reports Scott McLeod, an Iowa State University associate professor of educational leadership and policy studies (ELPS) who is director of the Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE) -- the University Council for Educational Administration's national center on K-12 technology leadership issues.

Under McLeod's leadership, CASTLE is partnering with 13 Iowa schools that have 1:1 laptop programs to promote further adoption throughout the state by hosting the state's first-ever 1:1 Institute on Wednesday, April 7, at the Polk County Convention Complex in Des Moines. More than 550 teachers, administrators, information technology technicians and media directors from Iowa school districts -- and some from other states, such as Illinois, Minnesota and Oklahoma -- have registered for the institute, which will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

McLeod says the event is designed to help Iowa's 1:1 districts learn about innovative teaching, learning and administrative practices that are occurring in each other's districts. It also should help teach other Iowa school districts how to start their own program and be successful.

According to Nick Sauers, CASTLE leadership training coordinator and ELPS doctoral student, the idea for the institute originated from a October meeting between 1:1 superintendents.

"We decided to create a place where we could build networks -- 1:1 teachers could meet with each other to learn about their best practices and share ideas," said Sauers, himself a former principal, teacher and coach in Iowa schools. "This is also an opportunity for future 1:1 schools and their educators to build those networks and increase their knowledge of 1:1's We asked all our current Iowa 1:1 schools to provide their best educators to run the sessions throughout the day."

Iowa school districts that have 1:1 laptop programs include AHST (Avoca); BCLUW; Bedford, CAM; Cardinal (Eldon), Central City, Mount Ayr, Newell-Fonda, Sidney, Sigourney, South Hamilton, United and Van Meter. Each school district is responsible for running at least three sessions apiece in the 1:1 Institute, according to Sauers.

Angela Maiers, a prominent blogger and independent educational consultant from Des Moines, will provide the keynote address, focusing on Web 3.0.

"Web 3.0 presents an entirely new way of seeking and sharing meaning," Maiers said. "As facts become obsolete faster and information continues to grow exponentially, literacy and basic technology skills are not enough. Web 3.0 demands a new fluency; a new understanding about how knowledge is created, constructed, and shared. We will examine several emerging trends that will profoundly challenge our fundamental assumptions of what it means to be a learner, teacher and citizen in the 21st Century."

Organizers are hopeful that the institute will stimulate a number of Iowa school districts to join the 1:1 laptop movement.