DAILY INSIGHT: Have we outgrown 1:1?

By Trevor Hope, CIO Advisor

1:1 is a buzzword in the edtech world right now—or even just in education in general. Everyone has an opinion on it, but no one seems to have the right answer. Does it work? Is it effective? The simple answer is yes, if you have the right people and plan in place.

I helped my previous district implement a 1:1 initiative six years ago and it is still going strong, but have we outgrown 1:1? Look at your own technology device usage. Do you use just one device for all of your needs? The answer is probably no, considering the popularity of tablets, laptops and smartphones on the market. Teachers, administrators, and staff for the most part have all gone beyond 1:1. So, why not our students?

Another buzzword, or acronym I should say, going around is BYOD or Bring Your Own Device. This can work if the majority of your student population has access to a device they can bring to school on a consistent basis. But what about the students who cannot afford a device? Another problem is allowing all these outside devices on a school network? One also has to consider that if the device is student owned, does the school assume liability in case of accident—and can the school properly filter the device?

Both 1:1 and BYOD are trends right now, but what about a combination of the two? Allow students and staff to use their school device as well as their own personal device. For example, the school issues students a laptop or tablet, how about take it one step further and allow the student to also use his or her smartphone in school? Think of the possible uses for having multiple devices per student in class. We all learn in different ways, so why can’t we all use our own device?

Obviously this plan isn’t for every district. Many districts cannot afford to implement a 1:1 program. That is why BYOD programs are becoming more and more popular as it puts the burden of purchasing and cost on the student and his or her parents.

The point is, we have evolved to go beyond 1:1. Think 2:1 and perhaps even 3:1 in some cases. Creativity should not be the job of our fine arts departments exclusively; the technology department needs to get in the game!

Trevor Hope is director of technology at Mount Prospect School District 57 in Illinois. Follow him on Twitter as @trevhope.