We are about six weeks away from the summer holidays at Cedars. That’s a whole academic year passed since we first deployed the iPad to every pupil, and what a year it’s been.
At a rough count, we will have hosted visits to the school from over 200 teachers. We were featured on several prominent news websites and national newspapers - in the process, discovering the highly variable degree of perspicacity required of the modern journalist. My writing was published in Macworld and the Times Educational Supplement.
I’ve appeared on several podcasts, held dozens of conference calls, answered thousands of emails. I spoke at a tablet computing event at Virginia Tech as part of a week-long schedule of visits to schools on the east coast of the US. Paul Kent was kind enough to invite me to speak at Macworld Mobile in Barcelona and I was honoured to be invited to speak at Abilene Christian University’s 2011 Connected Summit.
Finally, to cap it off, I was named an Apple Distinguished Educator alongside my colleagues Andrew Jewell and Jenny Oakley in the new ADE class of 2011.
It’s been quite a year.
When I started this, I had no idea that this was all going to happen. I thought we would buy some iPads then go back to being an unknown teacher in an unknown school in educational circles. The reality turned out to be a little different. I looked back in my calendar to see when I started getting calls about the project. The local newspaper visited us the second day we opened, then the first “consulting” call was on day five of the term.
After a while, we kept telling ourselves “surely that’s the worst of it over”, thinking that the interest would pass and we would get on with our lives. Right now, it seems, a chunk of the education world has woken up to the revolution that’s happening in edcuational technology. The level of interest is, if anything, increasing instead of decreasing.
We have been working on some plans to try and make the interest in our project more manageable. The first step was the Technology for Excellence 2011 conference, a two-day workshop for 30 people at Cedars. We opened a sign-up list for information about the conference and already - four months out - have 75 people signed up from as far away as Japan and Australia.
The second step I’m taking personally is to launch fraserspeirs.com, a site designed to put what has been happening informally onto a more formal footing.
One of the things about being a teacher is that people often expect you to provide your time for free. Over the past year, I have gladly given away many hundreds of hours of free consulting to anyone who asked. I’m not complaining - I was happy to do every single call - but it’s not sustainable.
It’s not sustainable for me financially to give away my productive working week for free. I’ve been doing a lot of this on unpaid time off from Cedars. Similarly, giving away my free evenings to those in time zones further west can put a strain on family arrangements even if you have the best wife in the world, as I do.
Information wants to be free but my time is a finite resource. I’ll continue to write up what I learn, what I observe and what I think about on this blog. You can read that for free. If you want a piece of my time, I’ll be delighted to work with you in a way that makes sense for both of us. After all, you’re going to spend hundreds of thousands on those iPads. Let’s make sure it really delivers for you.