Feb. 10, 2013

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Feb. 10, 2013

Perhaps it was the driving rain and the dark grey clouds of an approaching storm that contributed to the superintendent’s choice of words. He had spent the past month reviewing one-to-one computing programs in various school districts as he tried to decide whether his own district should commit to the enormous expense of a one-to-one program at a time of declining resources. His conclusion from his visits did not leave much room for interpretation.

“Horrible, horrible, horrible implementation from every program I visited,” he said. “All of them were about the stuff, with a total lack of vision.” His research convinced him not to move forward with one-to-one computing.

With this absolute conclusion that one-to-one computing can lead to a waste of precious resources—including dollars and time—hanging in the air, he then asked me my thoughts on the issue. My response, based on observing the implementation of one-to-one computing programs all over the world, was just as unequivocal: “Yes. Unfortunately, too often I concur.”

As many schools and districts are now rushing to buy every student a digital device, I’m concerned that most one-to-one implementation strategies are based on the new tool as the focus of the program. Unless we break out of this limited vision that one-to-one computing is about the device, we are doomed to waste our resources.

The observation of failure is not limited to this superintendent or to me. I have heard some colorful names that describe the sad reality of such a wasted opportunity. While I tend to refer to these initiatives as “$1,000 pencil” programs, or paper shoved down the wire, a Welsh school head quips that they are nothing more than “shiny new spaceships.” Even a corporate high-tech executive observes that too many schools are in “spray and pray” mode with one-to- one computing: “Spray” on the technology, and then “pray” that you get an increase in learning.

In every case of failure I have observed, the one-to-one computing plan puts enormous focus on the device itself, the enhancement of the network, and training teachers to use the technology. Then, teachers are instructed to go! But go where? That’s the critical question that must be addressed first.

Seize the World

Without question, I believe every student must have 24-7 access to the internet. However, while one-to-one computing might work as a marketing slogan designed to convince schools to buy as many computers as possible, it is a simplistic and short- sighted phrase that suggests if every student had a device and if every teacher were trained to use these devices, then student learning would rise automatically.

Adding a digital device to the classroom without a fundamental change in the culture of teaching and learning will not lead to significant improvement. Unless clear goals across the curriculum—such as the use of math to solve real problems—are articulated at the outset, one-to-one computing becomes “spray and pray.”

If the language we use to describe an initiative sets the tone and direction for it, and if we want to create a more inspiring vision than giving each student a device, then I have a simple proposition: Let’s drop the phrase “one-to-one” and refer instead to “one-to- world.”

This simple, one-word change takes us beyond the focus on the boxes and wires and alludes to why we are making the investment in the first place. The planning considerations now evolve from questions about technical capacity to a vision of limitless opportunities for learning. This change also has enormous implications for the design of staff development. As soon as you shift from “one- to-one” to “one-to-world,” it changes the focus of staff development from technical training to understanding how to design assignments that are more empowering—and engage students in a learning community with 24-hour support.

Developing Leadership

Perhaps the weakest area of the typical one-to-one computing plan is the complete absence of leadership development for the administrative team—that is, learning how to manage the transition from a learning ecology where paper is the dominant technology for storing and retrieving information, to a world that is all digital, all the time.

Leaders must be given the training to:

  • Craft a clear vision of connecting all students to the world’s learning resources.
  • Model the actions and behaviors they wish to see in their schools.
  • Support the design of an ongoing and embedded staff development program that focuses on pedagogy as much as technology.
  • Move in to the role of systems analyst to ensure that digital literacy is aligned with standards.
  • Ensure that technology is seen not as another initiative, but as integral to curriculum.

Leaders also must learn how to support risk- taking teachers and creating cohorts of teachers across disciplines and grades who are working on innovative concepts—such as students designing libraries of tutorials to help other students learn, as Eric Marcos has done with Mathtrain.TV.

In a one-to-world approach, the critical question is not, “What technology should we buy?” The more important questions revolve around the design of the culture of teaching and learning. For example, how much responsibility of learning can we shift to our students (see Who Owns the Learning by Alan November)? How can we build capacity for all of our teachers to share best practices with colleagues in their school and around the world? How can we engage parents in new ways? (See @livefromroom5 on Twitter.) How can we give students authentic work from around the world to prepare each of them to expand their personal boundaries of what they can accomplish?

The irony of many one-to-one programs is the overreach of filtering policies that prevent students from participating in powerful learning practices, such as publishing their work to a global audience. At a time of declining resources within many schools, it’s essential to craft a vision that giving every student a digital device must lead to achievements beyond what we can accomplish with paper. Otherwise, let’s just stick with the original one-to-one program: one No. 2 pencil per student.

We invite you to share your thoughts and follow the ideas contributed by others on this topic, using the Twitter hashtag #1toWorld.

29 Responses to “Why Schools Must Move Beyond One-to-One Computing”

  • melissa emler

    I think you have explained why I have not been able to decide what direction I want to take my school. I keep telling people I can be persuaded by 1:1 and BYOD arguments, but I can’t commit to one or the other. I know the most important thing my district needs to do is improve our infrastructure so we can provide access to the digital world. Once we have that I’m committed to the learning. I’m not going to allow tech companies be our 21st century publishers that pigeon hole my students learning. I want my students to CREATE and SHARE, and they can do that with whatever tool they want. Thanks for helping me clarifying my thinking

    Reply
  • Mark Yeates

    Education and learning are a philosophy within which we use lots of tools, some fast and some slow. We use these tools to achieve skills in desired areas, and nothing has changed, with one exception the speed at which teachers need to learn! This is where we need to put the work/money, as we need to know how to mentor our learners in this new world and new philosophy! The question is what structure are we going to implement to allow our teachers to learn?

    Reply
  • Steve Berry

    Many are comfortable with the technology being a substitution for traditional pen, paper and overhead. But substitution will not move learning forward. There needs to be a process in place that guides them past this plateau. As Randy said above if it’s about the apps and devices you’re wasting your money.

    Reply
  • Donna Roman

    I’ve spent a significant amount of time trying to sort out this issue and have found a great example of the kind of foundation you are talking about. This tech director in Illinois has really done a great job of creating the kind of structure needed. He graciously shares it through his blog. http://www.ryanbretag.com/blog/?p=3718

    Reply
  • Sheila Mayberry

    This article rings true on so many levels. Technology isn’t going away, it is where our students want to be and need to be. The opportunity for global learning can be powerful when done well and thoughtfully. It will take dynamic leadership and a clearly communicated vision to bring it all together for our students and their futures.

    Reply
  • Trudi Shine

    These key messages had most meaning for me..

    Craft a clear vision of connecting all students.

    Model the behaviors and support the design of an ongoing and embedded staff development program that focuses on pedagogy as much as technology.

    Reply
  • A. Jeyarajan

    We are missing a reasoned conversation on barriers to learning , in our bias for action, in a world of rapid technological changes and exploding information with mobility and global connectivity. Not sure that I have seen evidence , other than in thoughtful or purposeful application of technology, that application of technology has causal links to improving achievement or the narrowing of achievement gaps. Though theere is an exponential increase of wonderful learning resources and access, the achievement gap seems to be widening. The debate appears always to centre on how best to leverage the technology and resources as opposed why aren’t the students learning and what is preventing them from making the necessary behavioural, emotional and cognitive committments to learning and what can be done about it.

    Reply
  • Erik Stafford

    It’s important to understand why this problem is occurring. There is a lack of informed individuals that know how to apply technology toward developing 21st century skills. School districts need to seek individuals trained in training educators how to apply the curriculum utilizing technology. Without this students will never be using devices to build the skills that future employers are seeking. Unfortunately, undergraduate programs are not educating new teachers the shift from a closed classroom that is derived from knowledge of the educator, but more from the knowledge that can be gained from the Internet. Once universities stop teaching content and start teaching how to retrieve, organize, and share content that already exists on the Internet graduates will be unprepared. It’s not about what we know, but how well we can find it. The answers are already published. Students don’t need to know it, just how to find it.

    Reply
  • Jonathan Dallwitz

    Thank for these thoughts. As the newly appointed eLearning Coordinator at our college, I’m struggling to get through the noise of dealing with devices, workflows, apps etc (all year 8s & 9s have BYO iPads as of this year) and get more deeply into shifting our entrenched culture of teaching and learning; for students to be more empowered to steer their own learning, with global connections, rather than simply being receptacles of bits of data.

    Reply
  • Dodie

    Yes, I have been saying for years that quality first instruction and learning practices need to be the focus, the technology should simply enhance the pedagogy that has proven time and time to be successful.
    That is why those rushing to 1:1 initiatives have it all wrong. (Especially when you have people making the decisions to purchase that aren’t involving the teachers in the trenches.) I see us actually going backwards in many ways. If we merely use tablets to put students on the Internet or on a ‘drill’ app we have missed the boat and actually have lost an oar. (ie we aren’t going forward but rather in circles)
    Love your 1:world, that gets at the idea of part of the purpose of the device.
    Thanks for saying what many of us have been trying to articulate.

    Reply
    • Sally

      I agree! Where do you teach and does your school use any particular learning management system in its 1:1 computing environment? We have an MYP candidate school looking at learning management systems that don’t seem to fit the MYP model or curriculum.

      Reply
  • Sherry Van Hesteren

    I teach at a 1:1 IB World School in the Middle Years and Diploma Programs. For many years, 3 Critical Thinking tools have been at the heart of my teaching (all from the Critical Thinking Foundation: The Elements of Thought, The Standards of Thought, and The Intellectual Traits. There are 8 elements of thought — at play whenever we think — and “information” is only one of the them. 1:1 teaching and learning contexts challenge teachers to face the other 7 elements: purpose, question, concepts, assumptions, conclusions, implications, and point of view. The global population, which includes our students, is increasingly living online. Yet I find in my work with students that their critical thinking and citizenship skills in the digital world are weak: this is where I come in! 1:1 does not mean that students are using their computers all the time. Mine respond instantly to “Lids up” and “lids down.” 1:1 does not mean that students are not maintaining handwriting skills, and notebooks and journals written in their own hand. 1:1 does not mean undisciplined meandering. It is the teacher’s job to show students how to use the technology ethically and effectively — to master the power of the force! A final thought: many students are more dexterous in the digital world than their teachers. While teachers can try to keep up, they can also decide that that’s okay — because they don’t need to be masters of the technology — they need to be masters of their curricula, and of critical thinking and citizenship pedagogy — something that students can’t learn from the internet, but through sustained practice under the caring watch of a forward-looking teacher.

    Reply
  • William Simpson

    The title and introduction of this article are very misleading. After reading the entire article, it appears the author is against the program’s title, not the program itself. The program has its flaws, as do all educational programs and technology when first introduced. As for the nameless superintendent who had such negative opinions categorically throughout all of his districts, I’m curious as to what interventions, professional development trainings or other options he put into place prior to deciding to abandon the entire program.

    As a veteran teacher who has been known for finding the best ways to increase student achievement and student engagement, I am a huge proponent of 1:1 technology programs. In fact, seeing the possibilities offered by 1:1 technology in the classroom changed the path of my career, and I am now (in addition to being a Language Arts teacher) the technology coordinator for my school. We have an IT person for computer maintenance. My job is to oversee instructional technology, to ensure efficient academic use and teacher support throughout the building. What I do is essential to a successful program, but the program is essential contemporary education.

    For years, I’ve listened to individuals in the field of education preach on the importance of understanding today’s student. I’ve listened to endlessly repeated cliches such as “meeting kids where they are” and other similar phrases. 1:1 technology is the greatest bridge in closing the gap between our expectations as educators and students’ current academic statuses. Too often, I’ve seen educational institutions rollover from one program to the next without allowing the time necessary for kinks to be worked out, positives identified, and duplicative infrastructures implemented. As an educator truly concerned with reaching the youth and teaching them 21st century skills, I hope people truly see the value in 1:1 technology and invest in it… and my use of the term “invest” is not limited to funding.

    Reply
  • Jessica Beatty

    You have touched on a very important concept here, which is that technology is only a tool, and is only as effective as the person using it. I petitioned my administration to provide me with 1:1 IPads because I saw it as a tool to enhance my program, which is based upon inquiry learning. In my classroom the IPads are used in valuable ways every day. Most importantly, they have allowed me to personalize learning for students on an entirely new level. However, as my principal has pointed out, not all teachers have the motivation, program, or understanding to use these tools effectively. Therefore I agree that we need to have conversations about engaging 21st century learners before we look at what tools can help us achieve our goal.

    Reply
  • Lesley Beth

    Here’s a real example of what you are despairing about – in PreK-K!
    I am a kindergarten teacher.
    I got so fed up with the boring resources my school provided, I created my own program – called Jazzles ELA (www.JazzlesELA.com)

    I wanted to use technology but not at the expense of a sound learning pedagogy that included developing vital non-cognitive skills. (Discussion, sharing, problem solving etc.)

    Jazzles ELA is blended learning with a very clear vision about enabling every child, irrespective of social status, to become a proficient reader.
    At the very center of its 21st Century Engaging Pedagogy, and it’s integrated interactive resources, is developing vocabulary (linked with knowledge) – the single very best predictor of success in all school subject areas.

    However, if you look at commercial PreK – K literacy technology based learning programs – claiming to teach children everything they need to know to read – their focus on ‘phonics’ and effectively rote learning of words based on research that shows if you repeat a word 16 times, you know the word.
    As NIFL’s Advisory Board Member, Dr. Richard Wagner, says “Vocabulary knowledge is really knowledge distributed across multiple sets of words rather than an individual word alone. Acquiring a new word or refining knowledge of one word can improve understanding of related words and concepts.”
    It takes more than a computer program to do that. That’s why the Jazzles ELA pedagogy employs social interaction and group work, etc.

    When I tried to license Jazzles ELA to the big publishers, even though one valued the program at $4.0m, unanimously, their vision was for something the kids could do all by themselves – enabling teachers to focus on those children requiring more one-to-one.

    All of this came into focus last week, when I looked at the website of ‘StudyDog’ – claiming to be “the fastest growing children’s reading program for kids ages 4-9.

    Here’s their claim:
    “StudyDog Reading provides a complete, research based, rigorous curriculum. Study Dog is aligned with Common Core and state standards and systematically develops skills with explicit instruction. StudyDog is the only online solution that delivers all the components for effectively developing essential skills for early elementary readers.”

    Now read their fine print!
    Here’s the very small footnote in a pdf entitled ‘Texas Language Arts Literacy Standards PreK – 1st Grade':
    “StudyDog is a supplemental, computer-based reading program and, AS SUCH, CANNOT MEET THOSE STANDARDS THAT CAN ONLY BE MET BY HUMAN TEACHERS. THOSE STANDARDS ARE NOT SHOWN.”

    The words I have put in uppercase are their’s
    So please, what’s the point of the program!!

    Reply
  • Peter Hutton

    Exactly right. It is discouraging to see schools in 2013 move to a 1×1 laptop program with a Web 1.0 mindset. Schools still champion putting textbooks (an outdated tool) on ipads as a big deal. What they are doing is placing an outdated delivery tool on a cool device. When we launched our 1×1 laptop program at Beaver Country Day School our goal was to make Beaver better at being Beaver. We wanted to leverage the potential in emerging technologies to expand learning opportunities for students both in and outside the classroom and to shift the classroom dynamic. How did teachers respond? “If this will make me a better teacher let’s do it.” What some don’t realize: used correctly technology does not minimize the role of teachers, it expands it.

    Reply
  • Kathleen Johnson

    This minute http was unleashed on the world, learners could suddenly define their own pathways through knowledge; we call this surfing. This makes learning personal. One brain, one device, and a multitude of pathways. Yet we still step students through highly structured content. Give students more freedom to personalize their learning. This doesn’t mean ditch the curriculum, just loosen up the methods to get there.
    https://www.diigo.com/item/image/dvg8/2er5

    Reply
  • Steven Chmielewski MD

    As a board member who chairs the technology committee, I applaud this perspective. As a practicing radiologist, technology is imbedded in my life. It needs to be the same with our students and teachers if we are going to succeed in the global environment. As I write, my oldest son is competing at the national level for F1 in Schools, which has been an incredible experiential learning process for his team. It could not happen without technology in the classroom, but as I look at their “opportunities for improvement”, I understand that as a group they didn’t leverage tech to it’s fullest. Who’s to blame? Everyone, from the team, to the administration, including the board. Why? We lacked a solid plan, and didn’t foresee the possible success of a group of 7th graders producing a world class project. It’s not about the device, the software, or the bells and whistles. It’s about ownership and implementation on a very grand scale. To do it right, you have to add the human element to the tech equation.

    Reply
  • Stephen Clemons

    I think the discussion of 1:1 or not to 1:1 misses the mark – What I see are districts hoping against hope that something / anything is going to improve student achievement. The same can be said for expensive curriculum that can in some cases cost as much as a computer for every child. What IS disappointing is that many districts don’t have an educational strategic plan that outlines goals / objectives and definable and measurable action items that include curriculum, professional development, accountability AND technology. I agree 100% that selection the 1:1 device as the first step is a recipe for disaster and wasting money, but a well defined plan that includes technology can be tremendously successful.

    Reply
  • Dr. Renato Cataldo

    In 1989…as a new Professor… I brought the first PCs to a College in St. Louis, MO. Most of the faculty or students had ever used a PC. Just creating a state-of-the-art computer lab did not mean that the faculty or students would make use of the technology to improve critical thinking or increase knowledge. I set upon a two year journey to co-teach many of the core freshman courses with the existing faculty. This meant that I was in class/lab 8-10 hours a day looking for the best ways to inspire the students and teachers on the appropriate use of PC technology within their courses. This often meant guiding the students and teachers towards techniques that supported specific educational outcomes with limited software choices. The students caught on fast. The faculty often came to me asking how they should interpret the student work.

    I have always looked at technology in the classroom as a tool towards better educational outcomes, but it requires teacher development and support. For example, most schools never integrate Spreadsheet software appropriately. Microsoft Excel and other similar tools contain a wealth of capabilities. I could make use of a Spreadsheet in every course in the curriculum. A Spreadsheet can be used to organize notes and thoughts, analyze data, create timelines, etc. etc.

    If faculty could lead students to master software tools (not just apps) where students have to critically think, plan, organize, collaborate, and produce a body of work, we all benefit from the journey and outcomes.

    I believe that 1:1 devices in most educational settings are a waste of dollars because the administrators and teachers are not prepared to use the devices or software. I will take this one step further… If selecting a tablet vs a notebook PC, schools should always select a PC. As in my example above, we need to teach the faculty and students the tools. Once you give a someone the tools, their ability to build and learn grow can never be stopped.

    Reply
  • David Phillips

    I think 1:1 programs fail for the exact same reason other means of instruction fails: because many educators are stuck in the industrial education model that has itself failed. This model–intended to create a MINIMUM level of knowledge and BASIC skills to prepare students to do repetitive, uninteresting work in factories–will always fail to prepare innovative, creative, self-learning leaders for an information age in which less than 10% of jobs go to factory workers.
    Students’ perception of the “sit in rows and listen (or read a chapter) and then answer questions on a worksheet” method is that it bores them out of their minds. A much worse effect of this method, however, is that it begins at the very lowest level of learning, the “remembering” level of the revised Bloom’s taxonomy, and almost never rises higher. In my article for Techsmith’s January http://bit.ly/15GCpUC, I try to make the case for beginning at the very highest level of learning, the “creating” level and then “vacuuming up” the knowledge and skills necessary to do the project.
    The real problem I see with so many 1:1 programs is that we view devices as a means of gathering information and/or drill rather than as engines for creating meaningful, real-world artifacts that clearly meet curriculum standards.
    Before we start the technology acquisition process, we need a true revolution in our ideas about learning, then we can wisely move toward equipping our students with devices that can be used successfully to create a true digital learning environment.

    Reply
  • Lori Polachek

    Brilliant Alan!
    One to world… stimulates such a powerful, much needed shift in perspective. We might also say that in this world of abundance creative potential, ubiquitous information, and instanteous capacity for connectivity… tech innovation might be seen as a communal endeavor.. where teachers, students and even parents.. are invited to think, experiment, connect, explore, discover and share …. and where ed tech specialists, can be facilitators, simulators, catalyzers of the process, rather than owners or solo designers.

    Reply
  • Mtra. C. Martin

    The school where I teach has recently implemented a BYOT program. Although I am excited about the learning possibilities this program opens, I do not know where to start. I am a Spanish teacher and I have been using technology for a while. However, I have mainly replaced the media used to create performance assessment. Instead of writing a journal, students have written an electronic journal or blog post; instead of writing the skit for a conversation, they chat on messenger or Moodle. My intention is to provide my students with authentic tasks. Students are motivated and excited to use media that is typically banned in school settings. However, due to my concerns about my students’ safety and due to the privacy regulations that for years have emphasized that teachers cannot share students photos, information or work, learning and interaction is still limited by the classroom walls. This article answers the questions that have been playing in my head for years. If technology is going to take learning to a new level, we need to change our mindset about what learning and collaboration mean in the digital age. The term “One-to-world” clearly illustrates this shift.

    Reply
  • H. Reaves

    I am looking for successful Best Practices when it comes to One to One iPad disbursement K-12. Proven policies that have worked regarding whether to allow students to take them home or not, Roll Out procedures etc…

    Reply
  • Bob Houghton

    A table of key factors in 1:1 initiatives that could be used as an evaluation rubric would be welcome from those that have the time and experience to do so. My concern is that the basis for most visions and goals is to shove paper down a wire, to recreate Ford’s problem of potential car buyers really wanting a faster horse. It is not that hard to do an analysis of the types of composition being placed in the Web and cyberspace environment and work backwards to what knowledge needs to be taught (http://bit.ly/digilliteracy) or to consider the needs of the creative class as identified by Richard Florida. More politically powerful would be to survey the profit and non-profit startups in Entrepreneurship organizations around the country that are producing jobs and examine the extent of technology, computer programming, general digital knowledge and other skills considered key to a successful startup plan and then look at what school curriculum needs to do to hit that target. If interested in collaborating on such research contact me at rhoughton@morrisbb.net.

    Reply
  • Misty Chadderdon

    I agree with the author. Technology in the classroom is bringing the future into the Present. If teachers aren’t given instruction as to how to implement technology into their curriculum it isn’t any different than spray and pray that they learn something. If we are to teach we need the knowledge to do so.

    Reply
  • -->
    1. Randy Ziegenfuss says:

      Your point about leadership resonates with me. School leaders are terribly unprepared to lead for a vision beyond devices. This leadership gap was particularly evident at our state technology conference this past week (PETE & C). School leaders were definitely in the minority. This morning, at an out-of-district meeting, I heard several conference attendees sharing out about the conference. What did they share? Topics included how one school implemented 1:1 with Chrome Books and another included apps for the iPad…such limited conversation that loses sight of the greater work and vision for teaching and learning. It’s leadership that will take us beyond the talk of devices and apps.

    2. melissa emler says:

      I think you have explained why I have not been able to decide what direction I want to take my school. I keep telling people I can be persuaded by 1:1 and BYOD arguments, but I can’t commit to one or the other. I know the most important thing my district needs to do is improve our infrastructure so we can provide access to the digital world. Once we have that I’m committed to the learning. I’m not going to allow tech companies be our 21st century publishers that pigeon hole my students learning. I want my students to CREATE and SHARE, and they can do that with whatever tool they want. Thanks for helping me clarifying my thinking

    3. Mark Yeates says:

      Education and learning are a philosophy within which we use lots of tools, some fast and some slow. We use these tools to achieve skills in desired areas, and nothing has changed, with one exception the speed at which teachers need to learn! This is where we need to put the work/money, as we need to know how to mentor our learners in this new world and new philosophy! The question is what structure are we going to implement to allow our teachers to learn?

    4. Steve Berry says:

      Many are comfortable with the technology being a substitution for traditional pen, paper and overhead. But substitution will not move learning forward. There needs to be a process in place that guides them past this plateau. As Randy said above if it’s about the apps and devices you’re wasting your money.

    5. Donna Roman says:

      I’ve spent a significant amount of time trying to sort out this issue and have found a great example of the kind of foundation you are talking about. This tech director in Illinois has really done a great job of creating the kind of structure needed. He graciously shares it through his blog. http://www.ryanbretag.com/blog/?p=3718

    6. Sheila Mayberry says:

      This article rings true on so many levels. Technology isn’t going away, it is where our students want to be and need to be. The opportunity for global learning can be powerful when done well and thoughtfully. It will take dynamic leadership and a clearly communicated vision to bring it all together for our students and their futures.

    7. Trudi Shine says:

      These key messages had most meaning for me..

      Craft a clear vision of connecting all students.

      Model the behaviors and support the design of an ongoing and embedded staff development program that focuses on pedagogy as much as technology.

    8. A. Jeyarajan says:

      We are missing a reasoned conversation on barriers to learning , in our bias for action, in a world of rapid technological changes and exploding information with mobility and global connectivity. Not sure that I have seen evidence , other than in thoughtful or purposeful application of technology, that application of technology has causal links to improving achievement or the narrowing of achievement gaps. Though theere is an exponential increase of wonderful learning resources and access, the achievement gap seems to be widening. The debate appears always to centre on how best to leverage the technology and resources as opposed why aren’t the students learning and what is preventing them from making the necessary behavioural, emotional and cognitive committments to learning and what can be done about it.

    9. Erik Stafford says:

      It’s important to understand why this problem is occurring. There is a lack of informed individuals that know how to apply technology toward developing 21st century skills. School districts need to seek individuals trained in training educators how to apply the curriculum utilizing technology. Without this students will never be using devices to build the skills that future employers are seeking. Unfortunately, undergraduate programs are not educating new teachers the shift from a closed classroom that is derived from knowledge of the educator, but more from the knowledge that can be gained from the Internet. Once universities stop teaching content and start teaching how to retrieve, organize, and share content that already exists on the Internet graduates will be unprepared. It’s not about what we know, but how well we can find it. The answers are already published. Students don’t need to know it, just how to find it.

    10. Jonathan Dallwitz says:

      Thank for these thoughts. As the newly appointed eLearning Coordinator at our college, I’m struggling to get through the noise of dealing with devices, workflows, apps etc (all year 8s & 9s have BYO iPads as of this year) and get more deeply into shifting our entrenched culture of teaching and learning; for students to be more empowered to steer their own learning, with global connections, rather than simply being receptacles of bits of data.

    11. Dodie says:

      Yes, I have been saying for years that quality first instruction and learning practices need to be the focus, the technology should simply enhance the pedagogy that has proven time and time to be successful.
      That is why those rushing to 1:1 initiatives have it all wrong. (Especially when you have people making the decisions to purchase that aren’t involving the teachers in the trenches.) I see us actually going backwards in many ways. If we merely use tablets to put students on the Internet or on a ‘drill’ app we have missed the boat and actually have lost an oar. (ie we aren’t going forward but rather in circles)
      Love your 1:world, that gets at the idea of part of the purpose of the device.
      Thanks for saying what many of us have been trying to articulate.

    12. Dodie says:

      Here’s my inspired post- http://djainslietech.com/2013/04/01/a-vision-onetoworld/
      Thanks for the inspiration…

    13. Sherry Van Hesteren says:

      I teach at a 1:1 IB World School in the Middle Years and Diploma Programs. For many years, 3 Critical Thinking tools have been at the heart of my teaching (all from the Critical Thinking Foundation: The Elements of Thought, The Standards of Thought, and The Intellectual Traits. There are 8 elements of thought — at play whenever we think — and “information” is only one of the them. 1:1 teaching and learning contexts challenge teachers to face the other 7 elements: purpose, question, concepts, assumptions, conclusions, implications, and point of view. The global population, which includes our students, is increasingly living online. Yet I find in my work with students that their critical thinking and citizenship skills in the digital world are weak: this is where I come in! 1:1 does not mean that students are using their computers all the time. Mine respond instantly to “Lids up” and “lids down.” 1:1 does not mean that students are not maintaining handwriting skills, and notebooks and journals written in their own hand. 1:1 does not mean undisciplined meandering. It is the teacher’s job to show students how to use the technology ethically and effectively — to master the power of the force! A final thought: many students are more dexterous in the digital world than their teachers. While teachers can try to keep up, they can also decide that that’s okay — because they don’t need to be masters of the technology — they need to be masters of their curricula, and of critical thinking and citizenship pedagogy — something that students can’t learn from the internet, but through sustained practice under the caring watch of a forward-looking teacher.

    14. Liz Davis says:

      We have been piloting iPads at my school this year. I just wrote a very similar blogpost (although much shorter). Putting the iPad before the Horse: http://www.edtechpower.blogspot.com/2013/04/putting-ipad-in-front-of-horse_4.html

    15. William Simpson says:

      The title and introduction of this article are very misleading. After reading the entire article, it appears the author is against the program’s title, not the program itself. The program has its flaws, as do all educational programs and technology when first introduced. As for the nameless superintendent who had such negative opinions categorically throughout all of his districts, I’m curious as to what interventions, professional development trainings or other options he put into place prior to deciding to abandon the entire program.

      As a veteran teacher who has been known for finding the best ways to increase student achievement and student engagement, I am a huge proponent of 1:1 technology programs. In fact, seeing the possibilities offered by 1:1 technology in the classroom changed the path of my career, and I am now (in addition to being a Language Arts teacher) the technology coordinator for my school. We have an IT person for computer maintenance. My job is to oversee instructional technology, to ensure efficient academic use and teacher support throughout the building. What I do is essential to a successful program, but the program is essential contemporary education.

      For years, I’ve listened to individuals in the field of education preach on the importance of understanding today’s student. I’ve listened to endlessly repeated cliches such as “meeting kids where they are” and other similar phrases. 1:1 technology is the greatest bridge in closing the gap between our expectations as educators and students’ current academic statuses. Too often, I’ve seen educational institutions rollover from one program to the next without allowing the time necessary for kinks to be worked out, positives identified, and duplicative infrastructures implemented. As an educator truly concerned with reaching the youth and teaching them 21st century skills, I hope people truly see the value in 1:1 technology and invest in it… and my use of the term “invest” is not limited to funding.

    16. Jessica Beatty says:

      You have touched on a very important concept here, which is that technology is only a tool, and is only as effective as the person using it. I petitioned my administration to provide me with 1:1 IPads because I saw it as a tool to enhance my program, which is based upon inquiry learning. In my classroom the IPads are used in valuable ways every day. Most importantly, they have allowed me to personalize learning for students on an entirely new level. However, as my principal has pointed out, not all teachers have the motivation, program, or understanding to use these tools effectively. Therefore I agree that we need to have conversations about engaging 21st century learners before we look at what tools can help us achieve our goal.

    17. Lesley Beth says:

      Here’s a real example of what you are despairing about – in PreK-K!
      I am a kindergarten teacher.
      I got so fed up with the boring resources my school provided, I created my own program – called Jazzles ELA (www.JazzlesELA.com)

      I wanted to use technology but not at the expense of a sound learning pedagogy that included developing vital non-cognitive skills. (Discussion, sharing, problem solving etc.)

      Jazzles ELA is blended learning with a very clear vision about enabling every child, irrespective of social status, to become a proficient reader.
      At the very center of its 21st Century Engaging Pedagogy, and it’s integrated interactive resources, is developing vocabulary (linked with knowledge) – the single very best predictor of success in all school subject areas.

      However, if you look at commercial PreK – K literacy technology based learning programs – claiming to teach children everything they need to know to read – their focus on ‘phonics’ and effectively rote learning of words based on research that shows if you repeat a word 16 times, you know the word.
      As NIFL’s Advisory Board Member, Dr. Richard Wagner, says “Vocabulary knowledge is really knowledge distributed across multiple sets of words rather than an individual word alone. Acquiring a new word or refining knowledge of one word can improve understanding of related words and concepts.”
      It takes more than a computer program to do that. That’s why the Jazzles ELA pedagogy employs social interaction and group work, etc.

      When I tried to license Jazzles ELA to the big publishers, even though one valued the program at $4.0m, unanimously, their vision was for something the kids could do all by themselves – enabling teachers to focus on those children requiring more one-to-one.

      All of this came into focus last week, when I looked at the website of ‘StudyDog’ – claiming to be “the fastest growing children’s reading program for kids ages 4-9.

      Here’s their claim:
      “StudyDog Reading provides a complete, research based, rigorous curriculum. Study Dog is aligned with Common Core and state standards and systematically develops skills with explicit instruction. StudyDog is the only online solution that delivers all the components for effectively developing essential skills for early elementary readers.”

      Now read their fine print!
      Here’s the very small footnote in a pdf entitled ‘Texas Language Arts Literacy Standards PreK – 1st Grade':
      “StudyDog is a supplemental, computer-based reading program and, AS SUCH, CANNOT MEET THOSE STANDARDS THAT CAN ONLY BE MET BY HUMAN TEACHERS. THOSE STANDARDS ARE NOT SHOWN.”

      The words I have put in uppercase are their’s
      So please, what’s the point of the program!!

    18. Peter Hutton says:

      Exactly right. It is discouraging to see schools in 2013 move to a 1×1 laptop program with a Web 1.0 mindset. Schools still champion putting textbooks (an outdated tool) on ipads as a big deal. What they are doing is placing an outdated delivery tool on a cool device. When we launched our 1×1 laptop program at Beaver Country Day School our goal was to make Beaver better at being Beaver. We wanted to leverage the potential in emerging technologies to expand learning opportunities for students both in and outside the classroom and to shift the classroom dynamic. How did teachers respond? “If this will make me a better teacher let’s do it.” What some don’t realize: used correctly technology does not minimize the role of teachers, it expands it.

    19. Kathleen Johnson says:

      This minute http was unleashed on the world, learners could suddenly define their own pathways through knowledge; we call this surfing. This makes learning personal. One brain, one device, and a multitude of pathways. Yet we still step students through highly structured content. Give students more freedom to personalize their learning. This doesn’t mean ditch the curriculum, just loosen up the methods to get there.
      https://www.diigo.com/item/image/dvg8/2er5

    20. Steven Chmielewski MD says:

      As a board member who chairs the technology committee, I applaud this perspective. As a practicing radiologist, technology is imbedded in my life. It needs to be the same with our students and teachers if we are going to succeed in the global environment. As I write, my oldest son is competing at the national level for F1 in Schools, which has been an incredible experiential learning process for his team. It could not happen without technology in the classroom, but as I look at their “opportunities for improvement”, I understand that as a group they didn’t leverage tech to it’s fullest. Who’s to blame? Everyone, from the team, to the administration, including the board. Why? We lacked a solid plan, and didn’t foresee the possible success of a group of 7th graders producing a world class project. It’s not about the device, the software, or the bells and whistles. It’s about ownership and implementation on a very grand scale. To do it right, you have to add the human element to the tech equation.

    21. Stephen Clemons says:

      I think the discussion of 1:1 or not to 1:1 misses the mark – What I see are districts hoping against hope that something / anything is going to improve student achievement. The same can be said for expensive curriculum that can in some cases cost as much as a computer for every child. What IS disappointing is that many districts don’t have an educational strategic plan that outlines goals / objectives and definable and measurable action items that include curriculum, professional development, accountability AND technology. I agree 100% that selection the 1:1 device as the first step is a recipe for disaster and wasting money, but a well defined plan that includes technology can be tremendously successful.

    22. Dr. Renato Cataldo says:

      In 1989…as a new Professor… I brought the first PCs to a College in St. Louis, MO. Most of the faculty or students had ever used a PC. Just creating a state-of-the-art computer lab did not mean that the faculty or students would make use of the technology to improve critical thinking or increase knowledge. I set upon a two year journey to co-teach many of the core freshman courses with the existing faculty. This meant that I was in class/lab 8-10 hours a day looking for the best ways to inspire the students and teachers on the appropriate use of PC technology within their courses. This often meant guiding the students and teachers towards techniques that supported specific educational outcomes with limited software choices. The students caught on fast. The faculty often came to me asking how they should interpret the student work.

      I have always looked at technology in the classroom as a tool towards better educational outcomes, but it requires teacher development and support. For example, most schools never integrate Spreadsheet software appropriately. Microsoft Excel and other similar tools contain a wealth of capabilities. I could make use of a Spreadsheet in every course in the curriculum. A Spreadsheet can be used to organize notes and thoughts, analyze data, create timelines, etc. etc.

      If faculty could lead students to master software tools (not just apps) where students have to critically think, plan, organize, collaborate, and produce a body of work, we all benefit from the journey and outcomes.

      I believe that 1:1 devices in most educational settings are a waste of dollars because the administrators and teachers are not prepared to use the devices or software. I will take this one step further… If selecting a tablet vs a notebook PC, schools should always select a PC. As in my example above, we need to teach the faculty and students the tools. Once you give a someone the tools, their ability to build and learn grow can never be stopped.

    23. David Phillips says:

      I think 1:1 programs fail for the exact same reason other means of instruction fails: because many educators are stuck in the industrial education model that has itself failed. This model–intended to create a MINIMUM level of knowledge and BASIC skills to prepare students to do repetitive, uninteresting work in factories–will always fail to prepare innovative, creative, self-learning leaders for an information age in which less than 10% of jobs go to factory workers.
      Students’ perception of the “sit in rows and listen (or read a chapter) and then answer questions on a worksheet” method is that it bores them out of their minds. A much worse effect of this method, however, is that it begins at the very lowest level of learning, the “remembering” level of the revised Bloom’s taxonomy, and almost never rises higher. In my article for Techsmith’s January http://bit.ly/15GCpUC, I try to make the case for beginning at the very highest level of learning, the “creating” level and then “vacuuming up” the knowledge and skills necessary to do the project.
      The real problem I see with so many 1:1 programs is that we view devices as a means of gathering information and/or drill rather than as engines for creating meaningful, real-world artifacts that clearly meet curriculum standards.
      Before we start the technology acquisition process, we need a true revolution in our ideas about learning, then we can wisely move toward equipping our students with devices that can be used successfully to create a true digital learning environment.

    24. Lori Polachek says:

      Brilliant Alan!
      One to world… stimulates such a powerful, much needed shift in perspective. We might also say that in this world of abundance creative potential, ubiquitous information, and instanteous capacity for connectivity… tech innovation might be seen as a communal endeavor.. where teachers, students and even parents.. are invited to think, experiment, connect, explore, discover and share …. and where ed tech specialists, can be facilitators, simulators, catalyzers of the process, rather than owners or solo designers.

    25. Sally says:

      I agree! Where do you teach and does your school use any particular learning management system in its 1:1 computing environment? We have an MYP candidate school looking at learning management systems that don’t seem to fit the MYP model or curriculum.

    26. Mtra. C. Martin says:

      The school where I teach has recently implemented a BYOT program. Although I am excited about the learning possibilities this program opens, I do not know where to start. I am a Spanish teacher and I have been using technology for a while. However, I have mainly replaced the media used to create performance assessment. Instead of writing a journal, students have written an electronic journal or blog post; instead of writing the skit for a conversation, they chat on messenger or Moodle. My intention is to provide my students with authentic tasks. Students are motivated and excited to use media that is typically banned in school settings. However, due to my concerns about my students’ safety and due to the privacy regulations that for years have emphasized that teachers cannot share students photos, information or work, learning and interaction is still limited by the classroom walls. This article answers the questions that have been playing in my head for years. If technology is going to take learning to a new level, we need to change our mindset about what learning and collaboration mean in the digital age. The term “One-to-world” clearly illustrates this shift.

    27. H. Reaves says:

      I am looking for successful Best Practices when it comes to One to One iPad disbursement K-12. Proven policies that have worked regarding whether to allow students to take them home or not, Roll Out procedures etc…

    28. Bob Houghton says:

      A table of key factors in 1:1 initiatives that could be used as an evaluation rubric would be welcome from those that have the time and experience to do so. My concern is that the basis for most visions and goals is to shove paper down a wire, to recreate Ford’s problem of potential car buyers really wanting a faster horse. It is not that hard to do an analysis of the types of composition being placed in the Web and cyberspace environment and work backwards to what knowledge needs to be taught (http://bit.ly/digilliteracy) or to consider the needs of the creative class as identified by Richard Florida. More politically powerful would be to survey the profit and non-profit startups in Entrepreneurship organizations around the country that are producing jobs and examine the extent of technology, computer programming, general digital knowledge and other skills considered key to a successful startup plan and then look at what school curriculum needs to do to hit that target. If interested in collaborating on such research contact me at rhoughton@morrisbb.net.

    29. Misty Chadderdon says:

      I agree with the author. Technology in the classroom is bringing the future into the Present. If teachers aren’t given instruction as to how to implement technology into their curriculum it isn’t any different than spray and pray that they learn something. If we are to teach we need the knowledge to do so.

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