Over the past few years, as most school budgets have remained stagnant, spending in educational technology has continued to climb. In a report entitled, “Technology in Education: Global Trends, Universe Spend and Market Outlook,“ FutureSource consulting projected that edtech spending worldwide will hit $19 billion dollars by 2018, up from $13 billion when measured in 2013. As seen many times in education, district leaders find themselves buying the stuff, pushing things out to buildings, and hoping it’ll have a positive impact. Nationwide, we see a trend where school leaders are rushing to implement 1:1, with little to no systemic implementation plan, or long-term vision for a shift in instructional pedagogy or mindset.
When implementing 1:1, we must focus on the right “1” in the 1:1, and it’s not the device.
A one-to-one device to student ratio is an excellent goal as all students deserve high quality access and need to develop technology skills to remain competitive in today’s global economy. Intel Education recently predicted that within 10 years, 80% of jobs will require technological skills. Schools can play a vital role in preparing students for their world of work, yet must systemically plan so that instructional pedagogy can shift to a more personalized, student-centered approach to learning. To support this comprehensive transformation, Samsung Education developed the “Transform Learning with Digital Curriculum” infographic. To compliment this great resource, listed below are six keys to a successful one-to-one rollout.
- Begin with the Why and Focus on Learning Outcomes.
Districts moving to 1:1 must begin by answering the “why”. What is it that your district wants teaching and learning to look like in your classrooms five years from now? How will teaching and learning shift with the availability of these devices? How will the devices fit your desired assessment methods? Remain focused on student learning and utilize the technology as the amazing accelerant that it can be.
- Personalize Professional Learning.
High quality professional learning mirrors dynamic classroom instruction. Professional learning must be relevant, ongoing, engaging, hands-on, and meet the needs of a learner. Simply offering the one-time “bootcamp” where all the how-to’s of an application are covered will not shift instructional pedagogy. Professional learning must build from the why, to the how, to what can and should be. Closing the “Digital Use Divide” will only occur through ongoing, high quality professional learning opportunities and a sense of ownership from educators.
- Redesign the Space.
Many of today’s classrooms have amazing 21st century tools sitting in 20th century learning environments. Rolling out a 1:1 in a teacher-centric environment where desks are consistently in rows facing forward will have limited impact. Educators that talk about wanting to build collaboration, problem solving, and higher order thinking skills, yet have environments that resemble classrooms of 100 years ago are getting in their own way. Spaces need to be flexible, provide space for movement, and promote collaboration and inquiry.
- Leadership and Culture Set the Tone.
Cultures of innovation can only be created by school leaders who understand that it is their job to model desired learning outcomes and pedagogical shifts. School leaders must promote risk-taking – empowering teachers to fail forward. School leadership must also utilize faculty meeting and inservice time to model the instructional practices they desire from their teachers in the classroom. Doing anything else is hypocritical.
- Ensure a Robust Infrastructure.
Struggling with the outdated laptop as batteries die and boot time seems like an eternity is a detriment to learning. Districts must develop cyclical refresh plans to ensure quality devices, while maintaining a robust infrastructure where access is seamless. Spotty wifi on old devices will shut down the greatest intentions for digital opportunities.
- Equity in Access and Opportunity.
The “lock it and block it” mentality of some tech directors stifles innovation. Many falsely hide behind the alphabet soup of privacy acronyms – from FERPA to CIPA to COPPA – and although there is good reason for blocking certain content (i.e. pornography, gambling, etc.), many districts over-block needed resources and content. This isn’t just an on-campus access issue, however. When moving to 1:1, districts must consider the need for home access. The FCC is looking to modernize the lifeline program and organizations like EveryoneOn and Future Ready are working to support low income families with this epidemic. What’s your district’s plan for those who don’t have home connectivity?
This list is only the beginning of the conversation and is not meant to be a comprehensive checklist. Simply put, even the greatest of edtech intentions will fail without a comprehensive plan of implementation. Rolling out a 1:1 initiative requires time, a plan, training, and a crystal clear vision for teaching and learning in the years ahead.
All students, regardless of zip code, deserve every opportunity to leave their mark on the world. It’s our job to make that a reality.