What is 1:1?
This post is part of an ongoing series of chapters from the book CHOICE. Please view this post for an introduction and table of contents. To keep up with each new chapter published, please subscribe.
“We need technology in every classroom and in every student and teacher’s hand, because it is the pen and paper of our time, and it is the lens through which we experience much of our world."
1:1 is not a new or unique idea. It’s not even a result of technology. Before we had computers small enough for every student to carry one, we had textbooks that every student carried. Before that, individual chalkboards... you get the idea. A learning tool for every students is nothing new.
But this book is about technology, so let’s start with where we are now in educational technology. What 1:1 implementations are currently being used in K12 School Districts (kindergarten through 12th grade)?
The technology model in education has been static for some time. We are at the point where schools and communities are looking for what’s next. What’s the next innovation?
There four primary models currently being used.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
Students are encouraged to bring their own devices to use in school. This saves the district financial investment by not having to buy a device for every student. It is also very quick to implement and scale. The district can go from no devices to a 1:1 program practically over night.
The downside for the district is the support needed for the wide variety of devices brought in by students. The downside for the student is the technology equality gap can be very wide. A student using a lasted model MacBook Pro and a student using a two year old Kindle Fire will have very different experiences and abilities with the device.
This is the most widely used 1:1 implementation in my experience. This program gives every student in the grade/school/district the same device. This model has been around for as long as there has been personal computers. Laptops, iPads, Chromebooks, Netbooks, Kindles, and many more have all been used in 1:1 programs. It creates a uniform platform for everyone to work from. It also locks the district and the student into a single platform. This makes managements much easier for the IT Department. It gives an apparently consistent budget. And it gives an equal technology experience to all students. We'll get into the negatives of this model soon.
This setup provides a group of computers in a dedicated lab or classroom setting. This was popular with completely stationary desktops, less popular with mobile devices and laptops. You would need to schedule your class for "computer time" to work on specific tasks. The computers weren't a regular and integrated part of the learning.
Today, this model is used very sparingly and usually for very specific needs. A CAD class needing extra computing power provided by desktops is a common example (although there are mobile options to avoid this need). The rise of Esports has caused a resurgence of computers labs in schools. Creating an area environment for Esports teams complete with desktops and digital displays. We’re getting into extracurricular activities though, outside the normal school day.
As mobile devices became more popular and wireless internet more accessible in education, cart computing began to replace lab set ups. You would have a cart with 20-30 devices and that cart would be shared by the grade/school. A teacher would sign out a cart to use for a class period and have 1:1 for a specific project or task. Again, not a regular and integrated part of the learning. A great way to ease into 1:1 when budget and professional development is a boundary of entry.
Most districts will have some combination of these models. Your district might have a 1:1 program that consists of Single Device at the high schools, carts in lower grade, and a computer lab or two mixed in (often in the library).
There is no one way or perfect way to have a 1:1 program. This book will make the argument for a Choose Your Own Device Model (CYOD). But, as a school district with a limited budget, you have to work with what you have. The end goal is always the same, give students access to the best resources you can provide and make them successful in their education.