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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Ownership, or Loanership?: One-to-One Access to Technology Is Key

Just a few years ago (in the twentieth century), most people felt that we successfully integrated technology into the curriculum when there were two, four, or even eight computers per classroom. This seemed like enough, because most of the time the computers were not used; you didn't need one for each student.

Others preferred computer labs so that all students could have access to computers at the same time. This system solved the problem of one-to-one access for a short period of time. However, scheduling computer lab time was often problematic. At some schools, teachers had access to the computer lab only two or three times a semester! When COWs (computers on wheels, or carts on wheels) came along, technology integration into the curriculum took a giant step forward.

However, these are all examples of computer loanership. Students and teachers borrow the technology for a limited period of time to do a specific task. Students and teachers were not using the technology as digital tool for a variety of tasks on a regular basis.

Today, when we talk about successful integration of technology, most of us are thinking about one-to-one access. Schools that allow students access to their own computing device notice a significant difference. With ownership, students have access to information 24/7, can work and solve problems 24/7, and have the time to evaluate both their products and process by which they developed the product.

One-to-one technology varies in price from handheld computers to high-end laptop computers. Many handheld computers now include productivity tools, a camera, ample storage space, and wireless keyboards. Many articles explain the successes and pitfalls. As a start, explore The Maine Event: Laptops on Every Desktop, Handhelds Go to Class: Using PDAs in Many Ways, and Apple 1:1 Learning Initiatives.

Tell us what strategies you've used to get each student the twenty-first-century tools they need 24/7.

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Christy's picture
Anonymous (not verified)
In my classroom teaching experience, the best example our district came up with to provide one-to-one access to technology was its use of Alpha-Smarts. These were simple word-processing machines our middle-schoolers used. They were durable and lightweight, which made them user friendly. They could be hooked up to a printer to print whatever document the child created. The problem was that there was only one printer for each hallway, which meant a computer class would have to be disrupted as I would send kids down to the printer. During my last year there, each department had a classroom set of 30 Alpha-Smarts available. This is not quite one-to-one access, but each student did have his/her own password. This enabled students to save his/her work and then just access it later. Now I work for a virtual online school called Connections Academy. It varies by state, but in my state (Ohio), we provide a computer and an internet subsidy to each of our students. This is the best example of one-to-one access that I have experienced.
Dawn Grobe's picture
Anonymous (not verified)
Even as a Educational Technology Specialist, I am not a big fan of the 1:1 as a wide-spread solution. If I were to leave my school and go to one with a 1:1, that would be fine, but I have too much trouble at my school convincing the teachers (not the kids) that computers are tools not toys. There would have to be a great shift in attitude before 1:1 would work for everyone. A school in my district has 1:1 in 3-6 Grade and it is working well for those teachers who really bought into it, but still others are dragging their heels. On the other hand, I also feel that usually a pencil and paper, a book or a magazine, and some actual physical manipulatives is still very important in Elementary School.

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