An iPad in every student’s hands sounds wonderful, right? Well, before you start drafting the press releases about your plan, consider if your district is truly ready for 1to1 deployment. Avoid failure, overload, disorganization and wasted resources by taking a look at the needs of your school district and plan your 1to1 deployment accordingly.
Are You Falling For Buzzwords and Ploys?
Just because a device has taken the consumer market by storm, it doesn’t mean it will be useful in the classroom. The hype around a device’s touchscreen capability may seep into discussions on boosting literacy and test scores. However, touchscreen tablets may not replace the traditional PC. Likewise, many schools are using devices like Chromebooks that are being used to enhance (but not define) classroom experience.
Is Everyone On Board?
Pretty much everyone wants to stop the U.S.’s downward decline when it comes to education. Currently, the U.S. has a few concerning statistics:
- Ranked 17th in education compared to the rest of the globe
- 25% of students in the U.S. don’t graduate from high school in 4 years
- 30% of high school graduates lack the basic competencies to pass ASVAB
Clearly, there are problems in our education system. In the face of failed deployments and wasted funding, not everyone is going to respond positively to a 1:1 initiative. The school district (teachers and community members) needs to be united in the decisions they make when rolling out the program. A united front will help you if there are any potential problems in the future. Planning is key to success. Speak to the community about the deployment to gather feedback and keep everyone informed with a cohesive plan that is well thought through.
Consider the Technology in 5 Years
Technology changes rapidly. You could deploy thousands of iPads (or Chromebooks) in a single year, and they will be obsolete in time. If you’ve centered all your initiative goals on an iPad, you will inevitably run into some challenges down the road. How will the iPad fit into classroom instruction? What about in the next 5 years? Picking a device before evaluating needs can make teachers build the curriculum around the device rather than the other way around. Design program initiatives based on the benefits devices will bring and not the device itself. Devices will need to be replaced and/or upgraded and you need to take this into consideration.
Look at the Costs
Instead of looking at brand names and instant recognition, look for devices that offer the capabilities you need at an affordable cost. When choosing a device, ask the following questions:
- What ports are on the device?
- How will the technology age?
- What is the failure rate of the device?
- What does it cost to maintain and repair?
- How much is the maintenance software?
- Does it offer a touchscreen?
- Is there a warranty? If so, what is it?
- How will we handle repairs?
If these questions aren’t answered, you could be investing in incompatible technology. Consider your goals for classroom instruction and existing technology in the classroom and how the devices you’re considering will integrate with them.
How are Other Organizations Doing?
Look at previous deployments in other school districts and learn from their successes and failures. There are many pilot programs across the country that have already implemented 1to1 programs. For example, Wisconsin’s Marathon Venture Academy had to spend thousands in iPad repairs for their program. New York’s Roslyn Public School District had success deploying iPads to each high school student. In that case, the tablets were used to improve student and teacher efficiency and provided seamless collaboration.
By knowing your district’s needs, past deployments in other districts and your chosen device’s capabilities your 1to1 deployment can avoid the more common failures of deployment and bring technology into the classroom in a meaningful and productive way.