June 26, 2019
Providing a device for every student in your district can be daunting, but it’s worth the effort. Fifteen years’ worth of research shows that giving every student a laptop improves their test scores in English/language arts, math, and science. Additionally, 1:1 programs contribute to higher student engagement, better technology and problem-solving skills, and greater student ownership in their own learning.
Investing in technology to provide a modern way for students to learn in the classroom has shown great benefits, but, where do you start? Successfully implementing a 1:1 program requires clearly defining why your district is going 1:1, and considering what type of 1:1 deployment makes sense based on your faculty, students, and technology. Here’s what you need to consider.
Why does your school district want to implement a 1:1 program?
A vague “because we need to do more with technology” or “because my superintendent told me we have to” is not a good enough answer. Instead, consider your district’s specific pedagogical and educational goals and how a 1:1 program can help your district meet these goals.
Does your district want to encourage more personalized instruction and learning? Or perhaps better enable students to work together on group projects at home? Potentially improve teacher-student-parent communication?
Defining your goals will help you decide which 1:1 options best meet your district’s needs and evaluate the success of your 1:1 program after it has been implemented. Clear goals can also help you “sell” your 1:1 program to any teachers who may be skeptical about the program.
Speaking of teachers, it’s essential to consider your faculty’s proficiency with technology and their educational approaches. What type of digital content will they use? Are students able to take their devices home, or will the devices stay at school? What spread of operating systems are they using? Chrome, IOS, MAC, Windows? Some digital resources are inconsistent across different browsers and operating systems.
Consider how much control your teachers will need to have in the classroom. When going 1:1, teachers are now outnumbered by 25+ devices and kids can become distracted and look at other content while the teacher’s back is turned. Look for solutions where teachers have access to viewing students’ screens and can control or focus their devices.
It’s important to involve teachers in the planning process long before devices are introduced into the classroom. They will direct the learning that happens on the devices your district chooses, and their needs must be taken into account from the get-go.
Your district’s socioeconomics will have a big impact on your 1:1 program. If your district allows or expects students to take their devices home, it may need to examine options to ensure all students have Internet access outside of school.
As EdTech reports, some districts have equipped school buses with Wi-Fi. Others have created maps for students to find free Wi-Fi zones near them. Your district can also apply for grants to reduce the digital divide.
If and when students are using their devices off school property, establish who is responsible for any damage to devices and whether your district will filter what students are able to access on their devices, or whether it will leave parents to monitor students’ device use when they’re at home. You may also want to consider a differing filtering policy depending on the grade level of the student.
What type of education do you need to provide parents to enable them to digitally parent when a new device is assigned to their child?
Nothing brings 1:1 use to a grinding halt like an overwhelmed network or under-resourced Wi-Fi.
Take stock of your IT infrastructure. Can your schools’ networks and Wi-Fi handle thousands of additional devices? What kind of authentication will you enforce on Wi-Fi? Your district may need to invest in additional infrastructure so your 1:1 program can run smoothly. The time to make that investment is before launching your 1:1 program, not after.
With all of these considerations, choosing the right 1:1 solution is a team effort. We recommend forming a 1:1 committee of members who represent different perspectives. Include instructional/pedagogical, IT, legal (compliance is an important 1:1 issue), and financial resources. Ask each of these departments how a device in every student’s hand may affect their sphere of influence.
After considering all of these various factors, you will be much more prepared to launch a seamless 1:1 program, benefiting students, teachers, and the district.
At Linewize, we’re happy to help you evaluate your 1:1 options and decide what best meets your school district’s needs. Get in touch today.
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