Forget 1:1, Are You Ready for X:1?

Currently, a vast majority of school districts either already have or are planning on implementing some type of 1:1 program. We read about the growing “tablet revolution.” Large 1:1 initiatives have made national news. Print textbooks are increasingly being replaced by e-textbooks.

However, with every revolution comes a coup, and this one will be in the form of devices brought to school that are not a part of the district’s 1:1 program. Kindles, iPads, smartphones, and other devices are coming into schools in record numbers. Is your network ready?

Enter X:1. A device ratio of one device per student is no longer enough. According to a recent Cisco presentation, most colleges are already planning to support students at an 8:1 ratio when they plan for new infrastructure and bandwidth. As children and families expand their personal access to technology at home, it is realistic for them to want to use those devices at school as well.

Previous 1:1 initiatives have generally focused on being able to digitize instructional materials and resources. X:1 programs will extend this goal by allowing the students (and teachers) more flexibility in determining which device or devices are the most effective for any given task. For instance, one student may be happy reading a book on her smartphone while another student wants a print copy and a third student prefers to use his Kindle.

In order for schools to prepare for this multi-device/platform environment, school leaders need to make realistic determinations about the amount of bandwidth their schools will require, especially when factoring in the many cloud-based services needed to populate these devices with content. Building the necessary filters and other safeguards (e.g., VLAN and separate public networks) into school infrastructure will also have to be considered as more personal devices seek to connect to the school network.

So, where does a district start? Some basic questions include:

■ What level of support will be provided for such devices?
■ Will technology staff help students connect personal devices to the network or help them to troubleshoot problems?
■ Will devices need to be registered in order to be connected or will some segment of the network simply be entirely open?
■ How will you communicate to your community about device recommendations or minimum requirements to connect to the district’s networks?
■ Even in a BYOD situation, will only some types of devices be supported in order to maximize the efficiency of the tech staff ?
■ How will these additional devices affect CIPA compliance?

No matter how schools answer these questions, school leaders are going to need to develop plans on how to increase bandwidth and performance as more instruction goes digital. As your school district determines your direction regarding these key questions, we encourage you to share your solutions. Leave a comment on this article or find us @ techlearning.