The Realities of 1:1
Another day, and another district is going 1:1. That’s the good news. T&L wanted to see if
there were any steps to take—or to avoid—to ease implementation and everything thereafter.
|Middle schoolers in Alabama collaborate in Google Docs.
Oxford Middle School
A Quick Look: This year, 658 7th- and 8th-graders at Oxford Middle School in
Oxford, Alabama received MacBook Airs. For now, the laptops remain at school,
but the plan is to let students bring them home next year. There’s a 1:1 MacBook Air
program at the high school, too, in which 1,400 students bring their laptops home.
Device Details: The district chose MacBooks because they already had iPad carts
but wanted something with more power. The teachers received MacBook Pros last
year to get a jump on using them with the iPads and Blackboard. “We collected teacher
feedback to let the district see what we needed and what we needed to work on,”
says Marci Hall, computer apps teacher. “We pushed digital citizenship early on and
continue to ensure that whatever we do in the middle school gets embraced district-wide.”
How It’s Working Out: “This 1:1 program is the best thing we’ve done,” says Principal
Kyle McCartney. “The 1:1 team meets with our technology coach every Tuesday for
professional development. At the beginning of the year they focused on apps. Now
she goes into their classrooms to help them
troubleshoot. The departments have done a lot
of cross-curricular planning and training.”
■ Splashtop: Teachers use it to link the
iPads, control the desktop, and share
■ iMovie: Teachers can use this program
for project-based learning.
■ Pages and Keynote: These apps are great
for creating projects.
■ Schmoop: Test prep and more.
■ ClassDojo: This program works well for
■ Google Docs: This program is good for
collaboration, presentations, drawings,
|Sixth-graders at Bedford Public
Schools learned how to navigate their
Chromebooks before the 1:1 rollout.
Bedford Public Schools
A Quick Look: In January, Bedford (MI)
Public Schools handed out Acer Chromebooks
to 380 6th-grade students. The plan is to roll
out two additional grades each year, with a 1:1
program for grades 3–12 by 2018.
Device Details: The district chose
Chromebooks because of their fast startup time,
longer battery life, affordability, and ease of
management. They also liked being able to keep
using the Chrome apps that teachers and students
enjoy. “We’re four months in, and the Acer
Chromebooks are a good fit for us,” says Jennifer
Earl, director of instructional technology.
“We’ll continue to evaluate and monitor, but
Chromebooks are cost- and time-efficient.”
How It’s Working Out: “Our teachers and
staff are witnessing a transformation in their
classrooms where more students are more
engaged in their learning,” says Earl. “While
many teachers were trepidatious at the prospect
of the 1:1[program], they are impressed by how
students have risen to the new expectations of
greater responsibility and independence. Many
teachers are enjoying the freedom and flexibility
that a 1:1 classroom provides since they are no
longer the lone expert in the room. More students
are taking the initiative to extend their learning
during class time and at home with the ability
to access such a wide variety of Web resources
and collaborate with others. Teachers are also
expressing a renewed enthusiasm for teaching as
they see kids get excited and take more ownership
of their learning. While there is definitely a steep
learning curve for teachers in how to effectively
manage and teach in a 1:1 environment, teachers
are saying they would never want to go back to the
way things were.”
■ Hapara: “Hapara is our big
thing,” says Earl. “We saw it
when we were researching
devices and visited districts that
used it to get teacher feedback.
Once you have that you never go
back.” Bedford’s SIS is uploaded
into Hapara so teachers have
instant access to student work,
drives, and emails they send and
receive—even messages that
get deleted. “You can see if a
student is sending questionable
email or watching ESPN instead of
National Geographic,” says Earl. “Once
teachers see how easy it is, they have
■ PlanbookEdu.com: This Web site provides
an online lesson-planning tool that lets
teachers align benchmarks and use the
digital tools they learn about in ongoing
professional development sessions.
■ NoRedInk: Earl calls it a “clever app
that uses a Mad Libs-like approach to let
students practice grammar.”
■ Edmodo: Teachers & students can
discuss, connect, and collect in this safe
■ SpeakIt: This app reads text passages that
students highlight. It also helps at-risk
and special education students to be
Dassel-Cokato High School
|Above: A high school student in horticulture class uses online resources to
study class materials.
Below: Beckermann teaches his journalism students about photography.
A Quick Look: Dassel-Cokato High School in
Cokato, Minnesota is in the midst of a four-year
1:1 rollout, says Paul Beckermann, media and
digital learning specialist. Instead of doing it
by grade level, they started with the English
department last year; this year, the science and
business departments went 1:1. Next year will be
social studies, and by 2016 all departments will
be 1:1. Beckermann explains the by-department
rollout this way: “We have a lot of mixed grade-level
classes, and if a teacher can’t count on the
device being there every day, it’s difficult to find
value in creating activities.”
Device Details: Dassel-Cokato selected HP
ProBook 4530s. “Whatever we chose had
to replace our computer lab, so it had to be a
full-functioning device,” says Beckermann. “We
looked at tablets and other devices and teachers
unanimously chose laptops.”
How It’s Working Out: “We have intentionally
called this a Digital Learning Initiative instead
of a 1:1 laptop initiative because it’s not about
the technology by itself—it’s about student
learning. More specifically, it’s about improving
student learning through the use of digital tools.
In my opinion, moving to a 1:1 environment
in the classroom is just the beginning. Once
teachers and students can rely on having these
powerful tools available in their classrooms
every day, they can begin to innovate and find
better ways to improve student learning. It
opens a whole new world of possibilities.
“In less than two years, our English
teachers have totally revolutionized how
they teach. They’ve developed new teaching
strategies, content delivery systems, common
course materials with online textbooks written
by their department, common assessments,
and innovative lesson plan ideas. The process
has made them a more cohesive group that
collaborates very well, and their students are
achieving their English objectives at a high level
while developing 21st-century skills. It has been
exciting to watch.”
■ LanSchool: Teachers use it for classroom
management and monitoring.
■ Serif Design Suite: This program costs
less than Adobe Creative Suite and is
great for video editing, photo editing, and
■ Turnitin: Plagiarism detection site
■ EasyBib: Bibliography generator
■ Google Apps for Education. “We
introduced Google Apps to our teachers
last fall because they saw the potential
for collaboration and distribution. Our
science teachers are doing data analysis
with shared spreadsheets and finding it
to be really meaningful.”
|Glenview students adapted quickly to using their iPads.
Glenview School District #34
A Quick Look: Glenview (IL) School District #34’s education foundation
funded a major portion of the last two years, in which the district pilot tested
a 1:1 program. In the first official year of its 1:1 program, students in grades
1–5, as well as one 6th-grade class and one 7th-grade class (3,700 students
in total) are participating. Next year the 1:1 program will include 5,000 K–8
Device Details: “The iPad provided the most access to resources,
creativity, and content development. It also gave students the ability to
manipulate information and work in an open-ended environment,” says
Brian M. Engle, executive director of educational technology.
How It’s Working Out: “The 1:1 [program] has proven to be a critical step
in making wholesale advances in instructional effectiveness and student
learning opportunities throughout our district,” says Engle. “Educators
are now able to more efficiently and effectively deliver authentic and
meaningful learning experiences to students, while extending instruction
beyond the walls of the school. The opportunity for staff to capitalize on the
increased communication avenues with students, parents, and colleagues
has revolutionized our learning environments.”
■ Schoology + Google Drive + Notability: The middle school teachers
love how this trio of workflow apps works together, and education
technology facilitator Candace Marcotte says they seamlessly let
students import and export resources and turn in work.
■ iCardSort: This app is great for brainstorming, outlining, planning, and
■ Popplet: This app helps students brainstorm and take on other tasks.
Test First, Then Implement
|Teacher training is essential to any successful 1:1.
Too many districts still say: We want to buy [insert product X]. How
many should we get? It’s much wiser to figure out your end goal and then see
which device or devices will help your teachers get there. One district taking
this approach is Orange County (FL) Public Schools. As it is the country’s
11th-largest district with 190,000 students, administrators decided to
pilot various devices before scaling up. Six different schools are trying out
MacBook Air laptops, full-size iPads with external keyboards, HP 4440s,
Lenovo Chromebooks, Samsung Chromebooks, and the Classmate PC.
“It’s a very diverse range, but we need to
understand which platform and device will work
best with our curriculum and have the smallest
impact on our technology infrastructure,” says
Mariel Milano, director of digital curriculum
and instructional design. With so many disparate
ecosystems, the district decided to unify on the
back end so everyone in the pilot is using Google
Apps for Education for email and to produce
and store content. This decision also helped
streamline professional development.
Each month, a program evaluation team
looks at 30 metrics, including progress
monitoring, usage, breakage, and theft. The
team marries that data with student, parent,
and teacher surveys to produce reports. In
two years, Milano says the district hopes to
have one ecosystem for grades K-1, 2-5, 6-8,
and 9-12—but not necessarily one device— on
which to standardize.
DOs & DON’Ts
By Chris Aviles
DO: Use a learning management system (LMS) like
DO: Have a backup plan in case devices don’t work.
Nothing should require a device in order to be completed
DO: Use a “Screens Up, Screens Down” approach or a
similar system to let students know when they should
or should not be using their devices.
DO: Create a Responsible Use Policy that defines
expectations and what responsible use of a device
DO: Have students use a device to make things and
show what they are learning.
DON’T: Take away a student’s device if they are misbehaving.
Would you take away their notebook or
DON’T: Let the device drive the lesson. Devices should
enhance the lesson. Devices are not a learning outcome.
DON’T: Think that tech needs to be used all the time,
every day. Sometimes pen, paper, and books are better.
DON’T: Expect students to learn about an app/program/
Web site and use it in the same day. They will
need time to play with it.
DON’T: Forget to make your physical classroom space
more collaborative to meet the needs of your 1:1 students.
Chris Aviles teaches English at Barnegat High School in
New Jersey. He presents on education topics including
gamification, technology integration, BYOD, blended
learning, and the flipped classroom. Read more at
Teched Up Teacher (www.techedupteacher.com).
DOs & DON’Ts
By Paul Beckermann
Some people think a 1:1 program is the ultimate goal. I think it’s just the beginning. Once
every student has consistent access to the tools for learning, then teachers can begin
innovating and revolutionizing their classrooms.
DO: Involve stakeholders in the decision-making process (including choosing a device).
DO: Choose a device that meets your program objectives.
DO: Train your staff—this is critical!
DO: Provide integration support during implementation.
DO: Focus on what you can do with the tool, not the tool itself.
DO: Provide ongoing training. W e provide summer tech academies, professional development
strands during the school year, full-staff workshops, and Professional Learning
Community support as well as help materials (videos and documents) posted online.
DO: Go at a pace that is right for your district.
DO: Celebrate and share successes.
DO: Have consistent expectations for students.
DON’T: Focus solely on the device.
DON’T: Expect success without integration training.
Paul Beckermann is a media and digital learning specialist at Dassel-Cokato High
School in Minnesota.
DOs & DON’Ts
By Jay Barrett
Last year, our school launched a 1:1 iPad initiative. In math and science
classes, we shelved our textbooks and began using open educational
resources (OER) to create our own multimedia courses.
While some teachers were quite proficient using digital content,
others felt a bit like pioneers.
Do make sure your staff is ready. We provided iPads to our teachers
during the summer so they could become acquainted with the
tablets months before rolling them out to students in November.
Don’t overwhelm teachers with everything at once. We provided
education and training to our teachers just as we would with our
students—paring everything into small chunks of information to
make it easier to digest.
Do create a framework for early adopters to share their expertise.
We held monthly lunchtime “Appy Hours” to provide a forum for
early adopters to demonstrate how they used the iPads, OERs, and
different apps. Teachers enjoyed learning from their colleagues and
knowing they could get help if they needed it.
Do allow for flexibility as teachers integrate technology into their
courses. As we eased into our 1:1 program, I did not require teachers
and students to use the iPads every day. I gave them the flexibility
to naturally progress through the stages of technology integration.
Do provide continuing education and training. We regularly send
staff to conferences, and last fall I traveled to the EdTechTeacher
iPad Summit with our math and science department heads.
Don’t forget the content or content management. To simplify
the world of OERs, we use Net Texts. With this free, Web-based
system, our teachers can easily access and use the vast library of
free, high-quality OERs available on the Internet and then publish
directly to students’ iPads. Teachers can select existing courses
from the library or create new courses by mixing and matching
items with their own educational materials.
Don’t let technophobes off the hook. Whether you completed
your training as an educator three years ago or 30 years ago, the
world has changed and we must change with it. We must show our
staff and students what it means to be lifelong learners.
Do demand rigor and quality from OERs. We seek the same quality
and rigor with OERs that we would for a textbook, curriculum
software program, or any other resource. With OERs, some think
that because it’s free, it’s okay to settle for less. It’s not.
Don’t expect to find everything you need for free on the Internet.
Even with all the OERs available we haven’t been able to find
everything we need for every course, so we create our own content,
such as video lessons. Teachers like being able to explain
concepts and skills to students using their own methods.
Don’t expect that every student will have Internet access at
home. Almost 70% of our students are economically disadvantaged.
One thing we like about the Net Texts app is that students
can download their courses onto their iPads and use them offline.
Do expect change. We are transitioning from an instructional
model where teachers dispense information to a model where
teachers are facilitators and students take a more active role in
their learning. This approach is exactly what we need to prepare
our students for success now—and in the future.
Jay Barrett is the principal of the Amarillo Area Center for
Advanced Learning, a math/science specialty high school in Texas.