According to a 2014 report by Project Tomorrow, one-third of high schoolers in the United States use school-issued mobile devices. Seventy-five percent of these students use their devices to access class information, 52 percent to take tests, and 37 percent to use online textbooks. These 1-to-1 computer solutions—also known as “one laptop per child” solutions—can transform the classroom experience. But if you want such a solution to work, you have to make the right preparations.
Prepare your Teachers
Studies have shown that, often, the key determinant of whether a new technology helps or hinders students is the presence of a well-trained and vigilant teacher. Yet a national survey conducted in 2014 by Modern Teacher found that 46 percent of teachers feel they lack the training necessary to make effective use of classroom technology.
Training teachers is essential if you’re to ensure that 1-to-1 computing solutions deliver benefits to students. So give your teachers the tools they need to keep students on-task during computer-based classes, and you’ll get far more out of your 1‑to‑1 solution.
Prepare your Students
Passed by Congress in 2000, the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) mandates the use of web filters on all school-owned devices. Its aims are to increase student safety, enhance network security, reduce cyberbullying, and allow for the enforcement of acceptable use policies. However, CIPA also acknowledged the difficulty of “balancing security and safety with learning and education.”
For this reason, sites like YouTube are usually not blocked on school-owned devices, and schools can unblock sites they deem to have educational value. It’s also worth noting that web filters have been known to fail, which means that, occasionally, some inappropriate sites aren’t blocked at all.
To keep students from harm when browsing unblocked sites or communicating via email, it’s helpful to discuss the principles of online safety. That way, when an inappropriate site is accessed, your students will react responsibly.
Prepare your School
In 2013, The Atlantic reported that as many as 60 percent of American schools lacked complete wireless network coverage. Last year, the Federal Communications Commission moved to address this issue, approving a $2 billion investment to improve wireless Internet connectivity in American schools. This marked the first phase of President Obama’s ConnectED initiative, which aims to deliver complete wireless access to 99 percent of American schools by 2018. In other words, most schools can look forward to fast broadband in the near future. For now, however, it’s prudent to make sure you don’t invest in laptops for students who can’t use them to connect to the Internet. So before rolling out your 1-to-1 computing solution, make sure that your school is ready to support it.
After high school and college, the students of today will have to navigate a world where computers are ubiquitous. So it makes sense to introduce computers in classrooms in order to empower students to learn, and teachers to teach, in a way that’s relevant and stimulating. Avoid the mistakes above, and there’s no reason for your 1-to-1 solution to be anything other than a resounding success.