One to One Computing – Get on the bus!

One of my other passions right now is one-to-one computing – putting a laptop or an iPad into the hands of every student and teacher in the country (ok, that maybe a bit ambitious, so lets start with every high school and move out from there). How will students possibly get the tech-filled skills they need to be succesful in college and their career if they just get to visit the computer lab once a week or are constantly waiting for the laptop cart to be available. I’m working with my local school district to help implement this in the 2012-2013 school year and have been doing a lot of research which has only hardened my already hard head about the importance of one-to-one. At a recent meeting with teachers, some of them expressed concerns about the idea, so I put together this list to help debunk some of the myths and inform them of positive aspects of one-to-one. This doesn’t touch on the whale in the room, how to finance such an initiative, but are as many ways as there are schools and I’ll get into that in later posts.

In no particular order:

  • Although all students will have computers, this doesn’t mean they need to be used in every class everyday or even for an entire class. They can be used for a quick, 15 minute activity, then put away.
  • Teachers shouldn’t feel pressure to have computers fully integrated into their classes on the first day. This will be an ongoing process and will vary depending on the teacher and subject. It will take time to incorporate them effectively – certainly months if not years to get entirely up to speed. Slow, but steady is the way to go.
  • Student computers allow for greater teaching flexibility – reverse lessons, differentiated instruction, collaborative projects, hybrid courses, etc.
  • Student computers build skills imperative for students to be successful both in college and their careers (word processing, presentations, spreadsheets, collaboration, research, media literacy, online safety and etiquette, etc).
  • One-to-one increases parity by giving every student access to technology. This eliminates the “digital divide” and helps reduce the achievement gap.
  • Student computers increase instruction time by reducing the time associated with going to a computer lab or utilizing a laptop cart. They also end logistical issues with same and remove problem of trying to schedule learning around the availability of technology.
  • Research shows that students in one-to-one programs are extremely responsible with their computers – the vast majority protect them from damage and bring them to school everyday.
  • Computers shouldn’t prove to be any more of a distraction than that which already exists with cellphones and Blackberrys. Students won’t be able to use them for non-class activities (Facebook, YouTube, IM, etc.) during class. Access to some of these applications could be blocked if they start to present a problem, though this has not been a significant issue with most other one-to-one programs. A strong Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) will be put in place governing the use of student computers on campus.
  • There will be ongoing and relevant professional development that will provide practical ways to utilize student computers to increase engagement, collaboration, creativity, motivation, differentiated instruction, and achievement.
  • There will be adequate and ongoing technical support to keep all the computers up and running including spare batteries and loaners. This doesn’t mean there won’t be issues, especially in the beginning, but there will be systems in place to handle problems with the goal being to have as little downtime as possible.
  • Students will have access to charging stations in case their machines aren’t fully charged (again, research shows that this is not a significant problem).
  • The new high school is designed to have the bandwidth to adequately handle one-to-one computing.
  • Student computers allow for use of a LMS (Moodle, It’s Learning, etc.) which will enable a host of useful applications and tools to enhance instruction. Again, this doesn’t mean that teachers must use all of them right away, but they are available for those who want to:  
      • Online tests and quizzes which are graded automatically (saving teacher time) and providing students with instant feedback
      • Homework and class notes distributed online – no paper
      • Homework turned in online – no paper
      • Synchronous online study groups and/or one-on-one student help sessions
      • Increased student/teacher and parent/teacher communication
      • Student ePortfolios

About Ted Henning

Ted Henning is a teacher, instructional designer, education technologist and reform crusader. He hopes for world peace and to become a better guitarist.
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