The Case for One to One Technology

Just a few short years ago, it was considered a luxury for a school to have enough technology devices to be able to assign one to each student for use in the classroom and often at home. This model is commonly referred to as a one to one technology program. With each passing year, the cost of moving a school to a one to one model has come down considerably. According to CNBC, today nearly half of all classroom devices sold are a Google Chromebook. Chromebooks make up 4.4 million of the 8.9 million devices sold to schools and school districts K-12. To put it in perspective, this means that on average, 30,000 new Chromebooks are activated in schools each school day.

This news comes as no surprise because today’s Chromebooks can be purchased for under $200 and are some of the most robust, durable devices on the market with excellent battery and shelf lives. This purchase price comes at a considerable savings for school districts that would otherwise rely on printed textbooks for its primary student resources. Even after purchasing online resources for the devices, the four-year cost to a school for the student to have a technology device such as a Chromebook is less than half of what the school would typically spend to provide the student with printed textbooks.

Just a few years ago when costs were still fairly high, many in the education world questioned whether or not one to one programs were worth the investment. Some argued that having the technology was not raising test scores. Some argued that classroom instruction remained unchanged. People feared that simply providing students with a device would not be enough if the devices weren’t going to be used to their fullest potential. How could a school make sure these technology devices didn’t just become fancy word processing machines or web browsers? It would take a commitment from school leaders to set the direction and the expectations for how technology would be used in classrooms moving forward.

Late last year, Edutopia blogger and Massachusetts school tech director Andrew Marcinek identified five steps for implementing a successful one to one environment.

·         Define the goals of the program
·         Define the role of the device in the classroom
·         Model how to harness the device’s power
·         Put it away when appropriate
·         Teach, model, and support information literacy

To promote the model, Marcinek states, “A 1:1 environment should not be intimidating. It should be our ally in the daily task to provide our students with the best access to information and promote learning. There is no denying the rapid pace of our world and its ever-changing economy. It is our responsibility as educators - at every level - to prepare our students for this environment. The environment will not adapt to them, they must adapt to the demand of the market. A 1:1 environment is simply a start.”

Last month in the newsletter The Conversation, educational researchers Binbin Zheng and Mark Warschauer made the case for why schools should provide one laptop per child. Their recommendations come after a decade of study with schools and school districts with one to one programs. They found that in the schools they studied, “students' test scores in science, writing, math and English language arts improved significantly.” Furthermore, “students with laptops wrote more frequently across a wider variety of genres. They also received more feedback on their writing. In addition, we found they edited and revised their papers more often, drew on a wider range of resources to write, and published or shared their work with others more often.” Also, “students with access to laptops worked more autonomously and gained experience in project-based learning. This allowed them to synthesize and critically apply knowledge.”

My New Hampshire school will be adopting a one to one program for the first time this fall. We are looking forward to the opportunity to use the model to positively impact student learning and achievement in our school. 

This article was written originally for MultiBriefs Education.


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