TL Advisor Blog

From The Principal's Office: Looking Back At Year One of 1:1 iPads - Part One

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December 27, 2012 By: Patrick Larkin

Dec 27

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12/27/2012 3:08 PM  RssIcon


As I reflect on our first year as a 1:1 school, I am overwhelmed by the insights that we gained after distributing over 1,000 mobile devices to our students in grades 9-12. As I look at the data from an end-of-the-year survey completed by students, I am reminded of an excerpt from Milton Chen's book Education Nation - Six Leading Edges of Innovation in our Schools.  Chapter 3 of the book is titled The Technology Edge: Putting Modern Tools in Young Hands.

There is a great excerpt from the Abilene, Kansas High School Dialogue Buzz Website that sums up what we will do for students when we create a 1:1 environment for our students.

Here's the excerpt:

Let’s have a little competition at school and get ready for the future. I will use a laptop and you will use paper and pencil. Are you ready…?
  • I will access up-to-date information - you have a textbook that is 5 years old. 
  • I will immediately know when I misspell a word – you have to wait until it’s graded. 
  • I will learn how to care for technology by using it – you will read about it. 
  • I will see math problems in 3D – you will do the odd problems. 
  • I will create artwork and poetry and share it with the world – you will share yours with the class. 
  • I will have 24/7 access – you have the entire class period. 
  • I will access the most dynamic information – yours will be printed and photocopied. 
  • I will communicate with leaders and experts using email – you will wait for Friday’s speaker. 
  • I will select my learning style – you will use the teacher’s favorite learning style. 
  • I will collaborate with my peers from around the world – you will collaborate with peers in your classroom. 
  • I will take my learning as far as I want – you must wait for the rest of the class.
The cost of a laptop per year? - $250
The cost of teacher and student training? – Expensive
The cost of well educated US citizens and workforce? - Priceless

How important are the above bullets? By what criteria would you measure success in a 1:1 initiative?

I will be sharing the results of the student survey soon.

cross-posted at

Patrick Larkin is the Assistant Superintendent for Learning of Burlington Public Schools in Burlington, MA and the former principal of Burlington High. He blogs about education at


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