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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.

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.

Echo Meter Touch by Wildlife Acoustics
Heart and Lungs Lab App by Isygames
QBiC MS-1 Wide Angle Wearable Camera by Elmo
DataHub by Ward’s Science
Starter Electrochemistry Meters by OHAUS Corporation
Vernier Energy Sensor by Vernier
ChemAssist Mobile App by Fisher Scientific
MiScope by Zarbeco
STEMscopes by Accelerate Learning

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.

Teacher Lora Sprigings’ (center) AP geography classes are part of the gradual adoption of e-textbooks by Community Unit School District 300 in the Chicago suburbs.
Collier County Schools in Florida saw science scores increase after adopting Discovery Education’s K8 Science Techbook.
Interactivity is a key feature of the latest digital platforms, including Collections,” an ELA textbook by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Discovery Education, with products like its digital Math techbook, is a newcomer to the textbook market.

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.

Edgenuity's iPad software allows educators in Henry County Schools to create customizable math content.

A new flexbooks program will be implemented this fall in math classrooms across a suburban Atlanta school district to keep up with changing state requirements and reduce textbook costs.

Henry County Schools is using Edgenuity software on newly purchased iPads in its math classrooms, nicknaming the program “flexbooks” because teachers and administrators will have the flexibility to create customizable math content for each classroom and student, says Assistant Superintendent Aaryn Schmuhl. Parents will also have access to the content online so they can help students with homework.

Elementary school students from Pulaski Community School District in Wisconsin learn about photography with iPads during summer school.

Visit the classrooms of Burlington High School in the Burlington (Mass.) Public School District and you’ll see the school’s two-year-old 1-to-1 iPad initiative in action. Some students might be taking notes using Evernote, rather than pen and paper. Others may be translating and recording first-aid terms for a Spanish lesson. A music class could be rehearsing with the Garage Band app.

myCreate iPad App
The myCreate app is based on Stop-Action Movie (SAM) Animation software. Students can edit videos by slowing down or speeding up the delivery of frames, duplicating frames to lengthen scenes and adding music or audio recordings to their videos. Completed videos can be saved to personal albums and/or shared with family members and friends via Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, or HapYak.

In the move to 1:1 computing, school district leaders are increasingly looking for alternatives to traditional PCs and laptops, and for many districts, the go-to device is the iPad. But now, for a growing roster of Apple competitors, the time has come to give the iPad a run for its money.

Glastonbury (Conn.) Public Schools is the latest district to roll out a plan to provide iPads to its 2,200 high school students—and it is only the first step to significantly reduce textbook costs and focus on providing a 21st-century learning environment for its students.

A Griegos Elementary School student in Albuquerque uses an iPad in the library, which has a portable cart of about 30 iPads—known as Computers on Wheels.

For years, there’s been an ongoing discussion about the digital divide between the “haves” and the “have nots.” As technology has advanced, so has that gap, which is driving fundamental changes in how we work, learn, and live.

Administrators, educators, and nonprofit entities nationwide have been trying to lessen that gap over the past decade. With newer, lighter technologies like tablets and ultra-light laptops like the MacBook Air, some schools are considering getting rid of textbooks altogether and going digital.