How To Choose The Best Education Technology For Your School

edtechInspired by a recent #edchat poll for possible discussion topics: if the choice were yours, would you rather your school adopt 1:1 laptops, bring-your-own devices (BYOD), or a little-to-no approach to educational technology?

A minimalist approach to technology (MAT)

Perhaps those a bit more savvy when it comes to educational technology (ET) might find it strange to still hear the argument that bringing devices into schools does little to advance student learning.  Forget the ubiquity of current technologies, students do not learn any differently today than they did in the past, the argument goes.  Educators have gotten by without using technology in the past while student learning has not suffered, some may claim.  But is this still really a sound argument?

Bring-your-own device (BYOD)

Bring your own devices is the answer.  Most students already have some type of mobile device already: cell phones, tablets, laptops, etc., so why not adapt curriculum, assessment, and instruction in such a way that allows students to interact with content on their own terms.  Plus, this is a cheaper solution that 1:1 laptops (or tablets)!  Why not allow students to interact with content when and where they feel most inspired to do so?  Would this afford greater levels of differentiated instruction and assessment that would support the claim that what we do in schools should adhere to the needs, interests, and learning preferences of the student?

1:1 technologies (1:1)

It’s best to adopt a 1:1 approach to ET.  Students all have the same device which makes it easier to control how students should use their devices for educational purposes.  School administrators and educators know what’s best when it comes to how devices should be used in schools, so let’s limit what students can access, when they can access content, etc.  For example, let’s limit the use of Facebook and other social media websites so not to cause a distraction for students. This is why a BYOD approach does not work.  Imagine the problems educators would have if students had full access to information all day while educators design and implement learning experiences around a set of learning objectives.

Asking more relevant questions

Should we be asking which would educators rather have: MAT, BYOD, or 1:1?  Imagine if educational stakeholders (i.e., anyone interested in improving student achievement in schools) instead ask questions that pertained to current situations:  What approach to ET most relates to your situation: MAT, BYOD, 1:1?  What recent problems have you faced and how have you been working towards possible solutions?

Let’s avoid asking abstract, predictive, questions that frame certain approaches as better than others, and instead ask more relevant and meaningful questions that allow educational stakeholders to set problems in terms of possible local solutions, which others might find insightful.  Let’s focus on evidence-based observations instead of hypotheticals.

So I ask…How would you frame current challenges you face with educational technology and higher student achievement within your own educational context?  How have you (educator, administrator, etc.) worked towards a possible solution?


  1. TomMcDonald

    November 8, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Choosing the best education technology for your school initially requires serious and deliberate analysis of what you are trying to improve and why (e.g. deep learning). This requires a deep review of what doesn’t work (one to many lecture) and what does work (research validated, blended, flipped learning) and why it works. Then, and only then, is this revised process of facilitated, individualized, deep learning (individually spaced, paced and reinforced learning, over time)is delivered to individuals over cool technology.
    “School administrators and educators know what’s best when it comes to how devices should be used in schools”..This statement really isn’t true when it comes to deep learning..Staff are subject matter experts, not, deep learning experts and think erroneously that traditional one to many teaching (lecture) delivered over cool technology will result in individual deep learning. It WILL NOT, as school after school finds out the hard way.

    • Benjamin L. Stewart

      November 11, 2013 at 6:16 am

      Thanks Tom for your insights. I agree overall with what you say, but could you elaborate a bit more on the term “cool technology”? And, is it possible for someone to be a subject matter expert while at the same time not be a learning expert?

  2. Evan A

    November 9, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    I have been struggling with this very topic for almost a year now. My school district is 95% Mac but one Middle School is going 1:1 next year. The teachers have no idea how to teach to that environment and the district administration does not believe the training is necessary. We are doomed to fail. Any ideas?

    • Benjamin L. Stewart

      November 11, 2013 at 6:20 am

      Hi Evan, I’m curious, 1) why do you think that teachers have no idea how to teach to 1:1 environment, and 2) why does district administration not believe that training is necessary? I would think that addressing any possible solution should required “unpacking” these two questions.

      What do others think? Do you face similar challenges?

  3. fahad

    November 13, 2013 at 2:48 am

    tom i think best technology for your school is best school management with analysis of each student,teacher and also parents.parents receive timely update for their children from school.

    • Benjamin L. Stewart

      November 16, 2013 at 6:59 am

      I totally agree, Fahad. Technology, if done correctly, can encourage fluid communication between all educational stakeholders: teachers, students, parents, administrators, and the (global) community!