DAILY INSIGHT: 1:1 assumptions v. reality

By Steven M. Baule, CIO Advisor

What does 1:1 mean? To many people outside of educational technology, a 1:1 classroom is envisioned as a place where students watch videos and work directly with their computer, tablet or iPad. They imagine a classroom without student-to-student or even student-to-teacher interactions. The vision some have is that 1:1 educational programming will stunt social and emotional growth and lead to a nerdocracywhere interacting with a keyboard or touch screen will replace nearly all human interaction. Others simply see the automation of traditional classroom instruction where the device is simply an expensive spiral notebook.

In reality, the best 1:1 classrooms are much more engaging. Students are using a range of tools to collaborate on assignments via Web 2.0 tools in ways that are not practical in traditional settings. Students in classrooms I have observed are often more interactive with each other than in traditional settings. In the North Boone 1:1 pilot, both discipline incidents and absenteeism have decreased sharply, which is a sign of better student engagement in instruction. The 1:1 device also allows for a more differentiated curriculum, easier modification for special needs, and the ability for more easier, faster, and more accurate formative assessment. Students who read books on electronic devices read about 60% more books per year than those without, according to a recent LearnStuff.com infographic. Of course, I doubt that I am telling most IT folks something new.

The question is how to educate the general public, parents, and some educators to these facts? In some corners there appears to be a campaign worthy of General Lud to return to the traditional textbook and not move to a stronger and more flexible digital curriculum. I think it is important for instructional technology leaders in education and other educators to share their digital curriculum successes in order to bolster the whole. Otherwise, I worry we will be in an even sharper digital divide than we currently have. What can you share?

Steven M. Baule is superintendent of North Boone CUSD 200 in Poplar Grove, IL. He has written several books on aspects of library and technology management and planning. Follow North Boone on Twitter @NBCUSD200.