I first came across Adam Brice@adambrice at a Apple Distinguished Educators Conference. He was a passionate and motivated advocate for both appropriate technology integration and the use of Challenge Based Learning in primary/elementary school situations. He was generous with his time and happily talked novices through the procedure of setting up CBL in schools. I have followed his Ringwood North iPad Trial with interest since then and been impressed with both the depth of learning that occurs within the school and the resources that have been developed not only by Adam and his colleagues but by the Victorian Education Dept. The iPads for Education program has been used by many people as a starting point for setting up their own 1:1 iPads programs.
This Junior Geniuses initiative at Ringwood North is loosely based on the Apple idea of ADEs and I have seen it used successfully in high schools; we actually have teams of Mac Masters. To use this model in a Primary school though is pretty amazing. One of the things that I find most impressive is the attitudinal change that must of occurred within the whole staff. They have acknowledged their roles as facilitators but are comfortable with the fact that many of their students know more about the technology than they do. I also like the idea of giving the students some responsibility and input into the appropriate use of technology in the process of their own learning. This can provide opportunities for the type of collaborative learning environments that typify all those 21st Century skills we continue to strive for in our own classes.
There can be no debate - our kids know more than most adults about technology. And at our school, there is no doubt our Year 5/6 students are our resident experts when it comes to iPads. Yet rather than be threatened by this, why not harness their enthusiasm and willingness to share their knowledge?
With our Year 5/6 students and staff each having their own iPads, and small class sets throughout tour Prep - Year 4 classrooms, the need to support the staff and students around the school with this technology is vital. We also have many parents who have indicated their desire to learn more about the technology and work their children are doing with it.
And so the 'Ringwood North Junior Geniuses' was born!