At my school, we have recently purchased enough Chromebooks (specifically the Lenovo 500e 2-in-1) to ensure that every student in Year Four and Year Five has one each. The iPads that we previously had (2:1) have been passed down to Year Two and Year Three so that they also have a new 1:1 environment. However, 1:1 device programmes are not always popular and not always successful. The decision was made after much discussion, debate and consideration. This blog post will outline what 1:1 means to us, what it doesn’t and how we will make it successful.
What 1:1 means to us:
With the shared devices that we had before, it was quite common for a student to be accidentally logged in as a different student and have access to their files and emails. While there’s definitely a teaching point here about logging out properly and securely, in such a big school, occasional security issues like this were inevitable. With 1:1 devices, students’ accounts are safe, secure and private because nobody else will use their allocated device. Each Chromebook is labelled according to the student numbers and stored in number order.
Our 1:1 programme means that we have convenient access to devices whenever we need them, even when it is spontaneous. We no longer need to book additional devices or borrow from neighbour classes. This convenience makes it much easier to integrate technology and for students to grab a device whenever the need arises.
With an allocated device labelled with their unique number, students are more accountable for their responsible use of technology. This increased responsibility is already clear to see by the way in which students carefully carry the devices and question pop-ups and upgrades. This responsibility extends to the stylus that comes with each device. Students are increasingly obsessive about looking after these fiddly resources and ensuring that they are stored properly inside the Chromebook’s slot.
When a student opens their designated device, their account appears straight away and they only need to input their password to access their Google account and Chromebook apps. This is so much easier and faster than using shared devices. This means that precious learning time is not wasted and technology is another classroom resource that can be used efficiently and seamlessly.
What 1:1 does NOT mean
All-day screen time
We call our programme a 1:1 device availability programme. This reminds us that devices are available, but not always needed. We do not expect our students to be using technology all day long. We must still be mindful of screen time and, depending on the lesson, technology isn’t always best practice anyway. Our intention with the 1:1 programme is not for our students to use the devices more than they used to. Rather, it’s to make it easier and more secure when they do.
Replacement of traditional skills
While devices are available, we don’t always need them. That’s ok! Even in a 1:1 environment, technology won’t (and shouldn’t) replace traditional offline skills. For example, we still place huge emphasis on reading physical books, writing on paper and collaborating face to face (as well as online). Technology is used when it adds value to the learning. If it doesn’t, it could be replacing something that is more valuable. We will continually question our technology integration so that we don’t automatically use our devices thoughtlessly.
All students using technology at the same time
It is quite rare for all of our students to use technology at the same time. More likely, it’s students sharing a device or one group working on Chromebooks. Even if there are enough devices for one each, this isn’t always the best option because there is still value in sharing. In many cases, sharing prompts meaningful collaboration and fruitful discussions. This is why, for example, SOLE suggests one device per group when researching. Again, we have the option of one each, but we don’t use it unless it adds value.
In conclusion, technology is an accelerator of teaching practice; it makes good teaching even better and bad teaching even worse. This is still true (probably more so) with a 1:1 availability programme. While the programme itself won’t enhance learning, it makes the integration of technology easier than ever. And when technology is integrated meaningfully and purposefully, that’s when learning is enhanced. Our 1:1 availability programme will help us in this mission as long as we utilise it thoughtfully.
Have you taught in a 1:1 enviornment? Would you like to? Do you have any concerns with going 1:1? Please comment below to share your thoughts and keep the discussion going.
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