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Half of school districts nationwide believe they’ve completed their 1-to-1 initiatives and the infrastructure required. (Click to enlarge)

The digital classroom is no longer a new concept—half of school districts nationwide believe they’ve completed their 1-to-1 initiatives and the infrastructure required, according to the annual Digital School Districts Survey from the Center for Digital Education, published in March.

High-tech California school plugs into StudySync® for content and student engagement

Robert C. Fisler School serves 960 K8 students in the suburban Fullerton School District in Orange County, California. Second- through eighth-grade students participate in the school’s 1-to-1 laptop program, which has been in place since the school opened in August 2004.

The way schools across the country use space has changed. The growing number of administrators now building and renovating education spaces have made student experience a top priority. Educators seek new designs that accommodate collaboration along with 1-to-1 programs and other technology initiatives

Mobile devices and Wi-Fi will get the most spending attention in schools in 2016, according to a DA survey.

Students three years from now will use two or three mobile devices in the classroom compared to the current ratio of one device to every two student. A steady decline in cost and expanding capabilities make the technology even more viable for K12 education.

How to be a good digital citizen (Click to enlarge)

The rapid spread of 1-to-1, BYOD and online lessons in K12 districts has brought the concept of digital citizenship—the norms of appropriate, responsible technology use—to the forefront for school administrators.

School superintendents and principals should promote, model and establish policies for safe, legal and ethical use of digital technology, as well as responsible social interactions, according to the ISTE Standards for Administrators, released last May.

Computers and mobile devices aren’t just changing the way that content is delivered, they have changed the way that students engage with their learning and the role of the teacher. But, the expansion of 1-to-1 and BYOD initiatives, flipped classrooms, and anytime-anywhere learning has created a variety of management challenges. Administrators are faced with managing a proliferation of laptops, smartphones, tablets, Chromebooks and other devices with small staffs and limited budgets.

Click to enlarge: Countries such as Turkey and Tunisia have 45 and 53 students for every school computer, respectively

Regular access to a computer varies for students around the world.

Some countries, such as Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, boast less than two students for every computer at school.

Others, such as Turkey and Tunisia, have 45 and 53 students for every school computer, respectively.

John Williams is executive director of technology for Metro-Nashville Public Schools.

When your job is to manage the IT infrastructure for more than 83,000 students, across 150 schools, who use more than 340 different pieces of education software, it would not be too surprising to be singing the blues.

But in Music City—Nashville—our district is singing up-tempo and thriving even as we enter year two of a sweeping technology initiative to equip all students for 21st century learning and future colleges and careers.

After two decades implementing technology in schools, one thing that’s become crystal clear is that there’s no single correct model for one-to-one initiatives. And the reality is, the initiatives that fail to meet their desired outcomes weren’t clearly defined from the start. Unless, of course, the objective is merely to put technology in the hands of students and hope that they will figure it out from there – which is a typical case of a solution looking for a problem.

Technology is revolutionizing the study of science in K12. New products for chemistry, biology and physics labs allow more engaging and, in some cases, safer experiments.

Following the BYOD and 1-to-1 trend, many of these products come with mobile apps so students can take their inquiries outside the classroom and analyze data instantly in the field.

Juniors in Billings, Mont. worked on a local multimedia exhibit that covered a series of hate crimes that occurred in the town 20 years ago.

Instead of essays and book reports, more schools are turning toward multimedia projects in the classroom to make lessons more engaging and even stem the tide of bullying and tolerance.

While implementing technology initiatives such as 1-to-1 and using audio and visuals such as photographs, administrators at Crosby ISD in Texas also wanted to see what their teachers could do to “beef up” their instruction, says Patricia Kay, assistant superintendent of instruction.

A new wave of e-textbooks is giving students more than just words and a few hotlinks on a digital page. Publishers over the last few years have been adding video, interactive maps and gamified quizzes designed to engage students more deeply in their learning.

Robert Nelson, superintendent of Chawanakee Unified SD, oversees students working on refurbished Apple MacBooks, saving the district thousands of dollars. (Photo: Will Drosche)

Just five years ago, Chawanakee USD, a small rural district nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains in northern California, and the North Kansas City School District, a suburban district located just north of Kansas City, Mo., were at the starting lines of the digital revolution.

Baldwin County School District in Alabama spends $9 million per year on its Digital Renaissance program, which funds MacBook Air laptops for middle and high school students, and iPads for K2 students.

Before 4,450 MacBook Airs were distributed to students, before teachers were equipped and trained on their own devices, before test scores increased and the dropout rate decreased, the Mooresville Graded School District’s digital conversion started with a hard look at finances—one result of which was the elimination of more than 35 teaching positions.

Students in the Orange County School District in North Carolina, above left, have sturdy laptops thanks to a blend of funding from a county sales tax and the district’s capital budget.

Prepare for all expenses

Implementing a 1-to-1 program involves more than just buying or leasing tablets or laptops, notes Terry Haas, chief financial officer of Mooresville Graded School District. District leaders also need to prepare for other costs, including setting up wired or wireless networking, and servers needed to support the additional computers and software. Technology staff also needs to be hired or expanded.

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