What does 1-1 look like?

May 5, 2008 § 1 Comment

Tim had an interesting post, which sparked some brain activity.  I actually sort of started this post in the comment section of his post, but I thought I’d pose it here too.

Does 1-1 really mean every child has a laptop in front of them, or should we, as schools, be looking at a different type of 1-1 computing?

With computing devices coming in all shapes and sizes these days, and the ed tech community at large talking about how we can use these devices with students, why is it that tech directors are still fixed on 1-1 computing looking like this?

Maybe instead of being fearful of the major outlay of funds required for purchasing and upkeep of laptops, we should be exploring other options.  Yes, the laptop can provide many different uses in one package, but how many of those uses could be accomplished with other technology?

Alphasmarts or Palms for word processing, Palms, iPods, or a cell phone call to GCast for voice recording, Palms or probeware for in the field testing, cell phones or wireless Palms for a quick google…the options are our there, and much less expensive than a laptop.

I guess what you really need to look at is what the laptops would be used for.  If the main focus of a 1-1 program is getting students to use the technology outside of class using those laptops at home for research and production, then maybe laptops are the way to go.  If the crux is to get a computing device in the hands of every student during the course of the school day, then there certainly are other ways to do that.

At the end of the day, when it comes down to dollars and cents, I’d be willing to bet we’d be a lot more successful (and not have to worry about battery power as much – the original point of Tim’s post) using a variety of smaller devices than trying to deal with the distribution and upkeep of thousands of laptops.

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§ One Response to What does 1-1 look like?

  • Michelle says:

    In the last three years my high school has benefited from a grant that placed computers into the classrooms. While many of our teachers have argued for a 1-1 program, we have opted for laptop carts distributed semi-evenly among the various departments. In my department, English, we have 16 teachers and 6 carts (a little better than 1-3 ratio, technically.)

    in a world where money didn’t matter, it would be great to say “OK, everyone. get out your laptops and go….” But the reality is, while technology is a great tool, it is only ONE tool in the teacher’s arsenal. Providing each student with a laptop is a monsterous investment. When school districts make that much of an investment, they want to see it used efficiently, which means they want to know why you aren’t using them all the time.

    Another question is how much money you want to invest in alternative “cheaper” technologies. Most of these are fairly limited in their abilities, but I need my students to be able to multi-task: research, organize, take notes, participate in online discussions, write essays, and create podcasts or PowerPoint projects.

    We’ve had success with sharing laptop carts and are able to do a lot with them. Alternative technologies are simply too limited!

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