1:1 — A look at technology in education

I am serving my community by being on my school district’s 1:1 committee. The purpose is to see why our district might want to have 1:1. I feel that I’ve been a very very good person at keeping an open mind, not blogging about 1:1, putting bias aside from a couple families that I know have been affected by their district’s implementation of 1:1. Until now. Pat me on the back for self-control, would you? 

#wsrconnect 1:1 @wdmcs
photo from http://wsrtech.weebly.com/

What is 1:1? You say it,  “One to one.” Usually written as 1:1,  the term means that one electronic device is assigned and provided to one child by the school district. I went with a group of fellow committee members to see why and how Waverly-Shell Rock school district uses 1:1 in middle and high school.

Impressions. The devices used are school supplies. That’s what I think. Laptops and ipads don’t really replace anything; they make us fairly paperless.  A device is one tool or method that kids and teachers use for personal organization, design of lessons and completion of assignments, thought collection, demonstration of knowledge, etc. — stuff they would do with or without a device. It’s a school supply like loose leaf paper and pencils. Technology did not get in the way of teaching and learning for the students and teachers I met. It’s a delivery method with issues similar to non-1:1 issues.

What does this mean? I don’t know what 1:1 really means for district customers (the student and his/her family, and taxpayers without school children). W-SR employees thought that 1:1 meant a level playing field for the have’s and have-not’s, but it did not mean higher achievement. That makes sense — does a search engine make you smarter? No. Does using Prezi make you smarter? No.

My questions: Does taxpayer money buy school supplies now? Sort of. We expect the school to be appropriately stocked with clay and glaze, photocopies, and other consumables. But sort of not, if you count supplies like notebooks, markers, laptops, and planners. When you look at personal school supplies, traditionally every person must buy his/her own. Families pay a book fee. If 1:1 replaces a school book, how will the book fee change? If 1:1 replaces hardcopies and planners and markers and wastepaper baskets, how much will the cost to go to school change? If 1:1 replaces nothing, how will the cost of education change?

Read my district’s mission and vision:


Working in partnership with each family and the community, it is the mission of the district to educate responsible lifelong learners so that each student possesses the skills, knowledge, creativity, sense of self-worth and values necessary to thrive in and contribute to a diverse and changing world.

Shared Vision

The WDMCS will be a caring community of learners that knows and lifts every child. We will inspire joy in learning. Our schools will excel at preparing each student for his or her life journey.

Does 1:1 fit into the current mission and vision? Does the district meet the mission and vision without 1:1? We’re getting fuzzy now, because depending on any one student’s personality, learning style, preferences, etc. almost anything in the world could equip a particular person with skills, knowledge, creativity, self-worth, values, and joy and preparation for life. (I still scratch my head at the use of “shared vision” because the sharing parties are not identified.) What turns the lightbulb on for you might not work for me, so to think that a device could universally be that light switch, without regard (perhaps respect is more appropriate) to a person’s individuality has me concerned.

Personalized Education Learning Plans, or PELP’s, (can’t find a district link, it may have been mentioned at the MindMixer forum, or whatever it’s called) would fit the mission and vision, and 1:1 definitely fits into PELP. But it’s not the only way to fulfill a PELP. Home schooling fulfills and supports PELP’s, of which I am in favor. But I do not see how PELP’s would work on a large scale, and we have large class sizes.

Would you support your school district supplying one device to every child? Talk to me.

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