Is Elementary Too Early for 1:1 Technology?

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Mobile device access for 1-to-1 instruction is now available for more than half of all U.S. K-12 students and teachers. While ample evidence suggests this technology improves overall learning, how early in a student’s education should it be introduced?

The benefits of adopting 1-to-1 instruction at the elementary school level:

Teachers can easily facilitate differentiated instruction (DI)

One-to-1 technology helps cater instruction to each individual student’s ability and interests. This means that no student is left behind and nor are any held back. The need for remedial or advanced placement classrooms is minimized. Students may receive assignments, reading materials, and other content tailed to their pace of learning.

Increased engagement with teachers and parents

Google Drive, among other tools, allows teachers and parents to view and comment on student’s work as they create it. This may include essay questions, note-taking, and peer discussion. More engagement between the student and stakeholders in their education should encourage greater student accountability.

Worldwide impact when minds are most easily molded

Students may feel a greater sense of belonging when their work is experienced by a global audience. Connected learning allows students to publish their work for the whole world to see. This may include essay questions answered as public blog posts, uploaded videos and more. Consider how a child may feel when their art projects garner comments and feedback from viewers globally.

Seamless engagement experience between school and home

With learning content delivered on their device, the learning experience will be similar whether at home or at school. Connected learning students can easily pick up their device at home, log-in and continue their studies.

Increased familiarity with 21st-century technology

While tech aptitude isn’t a stated goal of 1-to-1 learning, it’s a guaranteed byproduct. Elementary age students participating in connected learning systems will outpace peers in their overall technical aptitude.

Before we tech-up our kids, what are the potential risks?

Physical movement and exercise

A common concern among critics of elementary 1-to-1 technology is the effect it could have on physical activity. With society already becoming so sedentary, this is a valid concern. It’s up to each educational program to maintain high standards of physical education regardless of any connected learning plan.

Tactile interaction with physical media

The concern is that devices will displace books, magazines, and newspapers. While this may in fact happen, wouldn’t this also pair with society’s transformation in the same way?

Will in-person communication skills suffer?

All you have to do is board any bus or train to see how technology is affecting interpersonal communication. With more heads turned down, fixated on devices, actual verbal conversations seem affected. While this is absolutely a valid concern, it’s one that would need be met regardless. Regardless of age, the prevalence of tech devices in anyone’s day-to-day life is more than ever before. Parents and educators will have to take an active role to encourage in-person verbal communication.

With more than half of K-12 aged students are already engaged in 1-to-1 education, earlier adoption just seems logical. Certainly, there are a variety of valid concerns that can occur. Educators and administrations bear the burden of deciding whether the advantages outweigh the risks.