As the landscape of device availability and cost continues to improve, 1:1 computing, where each student accesses their own dedicated device provided by the school district, is becoming a more viable option for many school systems.
Many schools provide limited occasional access to computers, and those schools generally experience limited occasional success. With a dedicated device for each student, the technology becomes an integrated part of the students’ day, removing the “novelty” of the technology and making it a seamless part of the solution.
There are several important considerations unique to a 1:1 computing solution that school administrators and IT managers may want to consider:
For 21st century learning, it's important to strike a balance between providing students with a portable solution and a device with the right amount of computing power without buying more than the student needs. It’s not unusual for schools to select different types of devices for different grade levels depending on each grade level’s individual academic objectives.
Your teachers can help immensely with this effort by highlighting the kinds of curriculum they want to bring to the classroom, helping you make the right hardware choice.
Once you know the number and types of devices you need to provide, how much will it all cost? What do you have to add to your existing network to support the added traffic of these individual devices? This is where your ability to be creative will be most effective.
Can the local business community help fund this? Can you ask parents with the financial means to provide a suitable device for their student to lighten the overall burden on the school? (There’s an emphasis here on the right “suitable” device that works for the classroom and that can be supported by the school).
Will the teaching staff have to go through any specialized technology training to successfully effect the program? What are the costs both in terms of time and money for ongoing professional development for the teaching staff?
Will the students have to take the devices home to do homework? Ideally, the answer is no. Devices in transit and out of sight of the protective eyes of school staff lead to a high percentage of lost, stolen, and damaged hardware, significantly driving up your annual maintenance costs. With almost unlimited access to the device during the school day, most teachers can make arrangements to give students adequate classroom time to complete assignments.
Some assignments may permit students to access curriculum from their home computers by choice; however, required access from home should be avoided since not all students will have the access to appropriate hardware and Internet access outside of school.
The Internet provides many opportunities for children to learn in ways we could only imagine. Be aware that while legislatures continue to address issues of safety with regard to students and Internet use, it's important to understand that the laws often lag behind the latest technology. A safe course of action is to lead the way with industry leading filtering, spam, and privacy solutions.
The parent community will be a strong ally. Setting clear expectations and boundaries will help avoid conflict and confusion. Make sure parents know about the school’s efforts to ensure Internet safety while they are online. A signed release at the beginning of the year helps ensure that every parent has seen the policy.
If your district is implementing financial consequences for lost or damaged equipment, as they may already with textbooks, make sure the parent population is clear on that as well. A deliberately damaged laptop is no different than a deliberately destroyed textbook. Parents should understand there may be financial accountability.
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