The concept of one-to-one computing in schools started close to thirty years ago. However, back then computers weren’t cheap which made program implementation very difficult. Not many schools could comfortably afford a device for every student. Additionally, there were very few learning software programs, and those that were available were very expensive.
Fast-forward to today and both hardware and software products are much cheaper. Plus, a majority of children are already exposed to devices. The stage is set for easier and perhaps even faster implementation of a one to one program.
The question is this. Is the K-12 education environment ready for it? Granted, colleges have been using one-to-one computing for some time now with excellent effects. But, are the younger kids, especially in the lower grades, ready for 1:1? What about their teachers. How will the new shift benefit them and what are some of the possible challenges?
1-to-1 Computing Pros
It prepares students for the future
The future workplace will depend heavily on computers and technology in general. By giving students access to technology, one-to-one computing allows these future workers to develop the necessary skills for the modern workplace.
Students access devices they might otherwise not be able to use
Not all parents are in a position to purchase computing and mobile devices for their children to use in one-to-one computing sessions. The one-to-one program provides a device to every student, giving the less-fortunate students opportunities they might not otherwise have.
It expands the learning environment beyond the classroom
Most schools and districts will allow students to take home their devices at the end of the day. This is invaluable as it will help students to continue learning even after school.
Increased student engagement and collaboration
Observation shows that students are more engaged when using tech devices in the classroom. Additionally, these devices also allow students to collaborate on their work, making group projects easier and more accessible. A 1:1 computing program will further improve engagement and collaboration.
Easier student monitoring
Finally, it will be easier for teachers to monitor students. Using online programs and specially designed educational software, they’ll easily track student progress and provide individualized assistance to help students perform better.
1-to-1 Computing Cons
Even with many advantages, one-to-one computing doesn’t come without faults.
Denies students the opportunity to read physical books
The importance of holding a physical book in one’s hand and reading from page to page is one that cannot be overemphasized. It’s imperative to the development of an individual. In effect, by replacing these books with computing devices, one-to-one computing takes away an essential part of student growth.
It could potentially minimize physical activity
One of the key criticisms of technology, even outside the education sector, is that it severely limits physical activity. Today, it’s not unusual for a person to spend the whole day indoors watching TV and communicating on their smartphones. As a result, if unchecked, one-to-one computing could have the same effect, potentially increasing an obesity problem.
Redundancy and budgetary constraints
There are fears that one-to-one computing might prove redundant in districts and schools where students already have personal computers. Or the program could cause unnecessary budgetary constraints on students without devices.
In a nutshell, a 1-to-1 computing program comes with significant benefits making it a worthy addition to the education system. But, at the same time, it carries several flaws that will need to be addressed by stakeholders.