For many school districts across the country, 1:1 technology brings the promise of innovation and improved student achievement. And so many schools have adopted (and are still adopting) 1:1 initiatives.
So far, the integration of technology into the classroom has lead to positive outcomes such as:
- Increased Achievement – Some studies have concluded that student achievement is boosted with the inclusion of 1:1 in classrooms.
- Learning Beyond the Classroom – Students are presented with a world of information outside a class setting.
- Increased Engagement – Some schools have claimed that student interest and attendance peaks when technology is present.
- Valuable Additions to Project-Based Learning – One-to-one technology helps students do projects that require research, presentation production, and collaboration.
The Pitfalls of 1:1 Deployment
However, implementing a 1:1 initiative in a real world classroom may not be as simple as putting a laptop into the hands of every student. There are pitfalls that districts and schools must avoid for a successful deployment. Here are some of the findings:
- Lack of Training – Without proper training for teachers and pupils, not every deployment goes well. For some districts, teachers who were improperly trained rely on Word and Excel for their teaching curriculum. Not only does this under utilize the laptops as a resource, but it also doesn’t build skills. A lack of training leads to wasted resources and budget.
- Over Emphasis of Technology’s Role in Learning – Creating a Word document is not necessarily a sign of academic improvement. There is a concern that technology (while useful) does not lead to higher critical thinking and academic achievements.
- Having to Accommodate Technological Unreliability – Some schools may need to improve their infrastructure before they deploy. Schools may need to expand and build better relationships with IT staff and support, and add capacity for managing the many more devices they will have.
- Trouble Replacing Books With E-books – Many schools hoped that ridding themselves of books would be an improvement in the classroom. For one, textbooks are easily outdated in a rapid paced world. Secondly, textbooks often cost considerably more than digital ones. However, viewing the same textbook on a mobile device does not solve the issue of outdated information.
- Not Every Student Catches On – Although it is often assumed that students are all digital natives, the reality is that students have different skills and preferences. Some students may be better suited for traditional education. Others may suffer from a lack of technical skill and exposure. These students require extra training for digital literacy.
Avoiding The Pitfalls
One-to-one is not something districts should simply jump into. By studying the pitfalls and experiences of other districts, deployment can run smoothly. How did one school deal with the varying skill levels in their student population? How did a district handle the costs of repairing devices? Administrators should take a step back and evaluate the best deployment strategy for their districts. After evaluation, plans need to be put in place:
- Communicate goals and visions to the staff and style=”margin-bottom: 10px;” parents.
- Begin training staff before deployment.
- Make plans to update staffing, device management, communication, and infrastructure as needed.
However they go about it, districts should realize that 1:1 should be a benefit to the classroom and not a hindrance. Proper implementation will push classrooms and students into the 21st century and move education in a positive direction.