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David Liss was seeing a unique challenge when it came to implementing 1-to-1 technology for the 6,200 students in Nixa Public Schools, one of the top-performing districts in Missouri.

“One of the things that kept coming up for us was there wasn’t data to support the premise that 1-to-1 technology increased student performance,” says Liss, who is Nixa’s executive director of technology. “In lower-performing districts, the data showed that 1-to-1 technology was increasing engagement, which was increasing student performance.”

The past two decades have seen 1-to-1 computing grow in popularity, with school districts across the country deploying millions of laptops and tablets to students, excited by their potential to enhance learning. But unfortunately, with the trend came the reality that many school systems didn’t adequately plan, prepare for or sustain their 1-to-1 initiatives, and failed to see positive impacts as a result. Why do some 1-to-1 initiatives succeed and others fail?

Six years ago, Waconia Public Schools, which is 35 miles west of Minneapolis, launched a 1-to-1 technology initiative. It purchased tablets as part of a pilot program for 10th-grade students. 

After determining that the pilot program was successful, the district expanded it to include students in fourth, eighth and 11th grades. At that point, the district realized that this was not a sustainable program for the long term. 

In the Ventura USD in California, one low-achieving middle school at risk of closure was instead transformed into the De Anza Academy of Technology and the Arts (DATA), a high-achieving magnet school. A significant component in DATA’s dramatic turnaround has been its innovative project-based and collaborative learning environments and makerspaces, which employ technology as a central component. 

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.

Phil Steitz

Technology should be one part of an overall blended solution that includes insights from educators and curriculum designers

“NMC Horizon Report 2015 K-12 Edition” aims each year to identify the leading trends in technology and education for the next half-decade.

Students in coming years will create their own educational content, 3D printing will become mainstream, and wearable technology will put more demand on school Wi-Fi networks, according to a study released in June by the New Media Consortium (NMC) and the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN).

At the Challenge to Excellence Charter School (C2E) in Parker, Colorado, educators are using tablets and Google tools in surprising ways to foster creativity, collaboration and content creation in grades K-3, while also establishing a foundation of knowledge-seeking skills that students will use in later grades. In this web seminar, educators from C2E discussed how the school is using Android tabletswith Google Play for Education both inside and outside the classroom for research, projects, field trips and more, how these tools have helped students take ownership of their learning, and the keys to a successful implementation at any school or district.

In this web seminar, originally broadcast on April 14, 2015, educator Kevin Brookhouser discussed ways to empower students by providing them time to drive their own learning, using the simple concept of 20Time: giving students one day a week to work on a project of their choosing—one that serves a real audience and solves a real-world problem. Inspired by author Daniel Pink and Google’s “20 percent time”—a practice that allows employees to take time out of their “day job” to work on a side passion project—Brookhouser created his own version and applied it to the classroom.

Instructional technology can enhance the classroom experience by delivering personalized learning to students on a greater level. Forsyth County Schools in Georgia successfully implemented digital learning content and tools that drive higher order thinking and increase student engagement.

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