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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

1-to-1 student hand-held ratio?

1-to-1 student hand-held ratio?

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My school district is considering the move to a 1-to-1 hand-held device ratio for students. Has your district or school made a similar move? Do you have any insights or cautions you can share?

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Suzanne's picture
Suzanne
Administrator

If you have experience or questions about making the move to a 1-to-1 student device ratio, please add to the discussion. My district is just now considering this move and I would love to learn from those who have gone before us.

Jay Clark's picture
Jay Clark
Principal - Van Buren Middle School (Van Buren, OH)

Hi Suzanne -
This is our second year with a 1:1 computing program. We began with grades 6-8 last academic year, moved to 6-10 this year and will have 1:1 netbook computers in the hands of all of our 6-12 graders next year.
We are a smaller district, so this was manageable without much bureaucracy. As our network administrator and I began the program, I was so very lucky that 100% of my teachers bought-in and we worked through the expected issues that occurred.

My biggest suggestions:
Make sure your staff is trained - if they don't use technology now, you've got a HUGE learning curve.
Have a content management system (Moodle is what we use, Blackboard, etc.) that teachers and students will use. Regardless of the device - the CMS is the backbone of a successful 1:1 program.
Make sure you communicate with your community, board of education, and parents. Moving to more digital assignments is VERY different for parents.

Best of luck!!!
Jay Clark

Silvia Mazzoni's picture
Silvia Mazzoni
Upper secondary school Italian language and literature and History teacher

Hi Suzanne,
I'm working in one experimental class (16 year old) in which we are testing this 1:1 setting about tech-devices/students.
All the suggestions of Jay Clark (above)can be confirmed by my own experience.
I can add: be very clear and firm in agreeing some basic rules of conduct at the very beginning of the experience. I mean, students have to know that personal netbooks (or tablets or whatever)are there to improve their learning experience under the giudance of the teachers and that are not there to entertain them at any time of the day. They are supposed to be used when the teacher say it is time to. If basic rules are settled and everyone is conscious of them, than you'll be fine and you'll see a great positive change in students engagement and participation. Also very useful for special need students, or very shy ones. Great for cooperative learning and web based didactics of every kind, of course.
In this learning environment students are supposed to be much more active than in a traditional one. Not all the students are willing or prepared to behave like that, you may need to stimulate their effective participation. Of course that is true only for some of them. A lot of them you will have to calm down and to be less enthusiastic.

Enjoy innovating!

Silvia

Mark DeSalvo's picture
Mark DeSalvo
Principal on Special Assignment @ DMS Middle School / Utica CSD

Hi Suzanne,

We are in the second year of the 1:1 computing initiative at a K-6 building. There are a lot of up front items to get out of the way--the technology curriculum infused, add-on, or stand alone? How well trained are the staff in using technology, using the software, hardware, and internet? Surveys help here. With that in hand a good staff development structure to support the change-over helps assure releuctant teachers that they will not be out on a limb with little to no supports.

Of course, having a building like Jay with 100% buy-in is the best of everything, but lacking that, knowing who is in, who needs prodding, and who needs to get off the bus will be necessary or things could be undermined fast. Having frank discussions about the initiative and the purpose should help, with staff input and questions to get to 100% buy-in.

I would track all you do (staff development, meetings with central administration, staff instuctional supports, parent meetings, student discussions and input, technology meetings, and so on) in a spreadsheet so you can see where you are going at any moment, and what will need more work to move forward. It also provides a good research platform in future years of the initiative.

We have used Live Binders and Moodle with success, and now a third option offered by our cooperative board is leaning to a comprehensive LMS where curriculum, staff development, activities, web content, and lesson plans all come together. Start with a plan and vision, then take it at the speed with which your staff and district can support. Otherwise, it will be frustrating, and teachers will quickly lose faith and become hesitant to mave forward.

Lastly, have fun with the project at all levels and reinforce that fun with showcasing the quality the initiative produces as many times as you can. Positive feedback/praise works wonders here!

Keep up the good work!
Mark

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