August 5, 2011

Maybe 1 to 1 isn’t such a great idea

This post was last updated on August 30th, 2011 at 10:55 pm


cross posted at Tech Learning



The push to one to one computing is continuing to be at the center of many districts technology budgets. Recognizing that we need to get devices in the hands of our students seems to be a priority in the minds of many in moving forward with what is often called a 21st century education.


There’s certainly a debate as to what that 21st education ought to look like but I’m beginning tto wonder of late if one to one computing is something we really need to be pursuing. Certainly looking at using student devices is an interesting and important conversation. In fact, Darren Kuropatwa recently wrote a great post on how he would manage a BYOD environment.  

But perhaps we don’t need every student to have a device? I’ve been arguing for a while that schools need to think much more closely at the wonderful gift they currently have of having students actually attend school in person. As online education grows so does the potential for students to opt out of face to face attendance. What will we offer our students in person that they can’t receive online? The answer is simple. Each other. I value the way we connect online but face to face is different and valuable. We need to be very careful that we aren’t trying to replicate the face to face experience online and vice versa. One to one computing can still be a great thing but I’ve seen too many classrooms where students stare at screens. They can do at home. What they may not be able to do at home is sit with 2 or 3 classmates and design, talk, build and interact face to face. It’s hard to argue that somehow that’s not different. We’ve taken for granted forever that each day a bus will come by and drop off students at our buildings. We’ve not had to think critically about they way our classrooms and schools operate and so a conversation about what makes face to face special needs to occur.  Obviously access and computing needs to be part of the learning but we need to be careful about how we’re leveraging the experience of being together. In many cases the focus on computing might be outside of school as students create content, research and design. It may be the the classroom has a 2 to 1 ratio or 3 to 1 of devices as students do their research and designing collaboratively. Collaboration and interaction become the norm and not the exception. In this way, we acknowledge the wonderful human resource we have each day and design learning that truly takes advantage of our most important resource, each other.



Photo: by Stanford EdTech