In Praise of One To One
Back in 2010-2011, my school went to one-to-one computing. We put a netbook in the hands of every 9-12 grader.
It is rather unusual for my school district to be out in front of things. We're small, largely rural, and not terribly wealthy. But a combination of factors came together to launch us into one-to-one computing. And I'm here to tell you that I don't regret it a bit. And yet, I don't disagree with writers like Thomas Ultican when he says that one-to-one is Bad News.
Let me tell you what I think we did right, because I recommend that should your district make noises about such a program, you agitate to follow our somewhat aimless lead.
I say "aimless" because one of the very first things our administration did was fail to give us any specific instructions about how we were to use our students' newfound technotools. I am not kidding. That lack of direction was genius, and it was exactly right. Different teachers incorporated different aspects of the technology in different ways. Some classes were converted to digital textbooks (that's a big part of how the expense was sold to our board). Some teachers used a variety of tools. Some found some cool things they could use in their class. Some teachers didn't do a damned thing. We were initially given a tool for monitoring what the students were doing on their screens; it faded quickly, as most of us discovered we could monitor students using a tried and true teacher management technique you may already know as "Looking at them." Also, we had anticipated problems with things like keeping the netbooks charged. It turned out to be no problem.
I'm sure administration became a little frustrated with how slowly some teachers adopted the tech, and many teachers were frustrated that our infrastructure had some hiccups. Actually, it's still hiccuping.
But the minimum planning was genius because, first of all, the little planning that was done all turned out to be Not On Point. And second of all, it let teachers advance comfortably at a speed they could work with.
Many folks were doubtful, and students in the first few years pronounced the experiment a waste of CURMUDGUCATION: In Praise of One To One: