Why 1:1 Shouldn’t Be Isolated To Just The Classroom

1:! ipad classroomDon’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t give up the iPads in my classroom for anything. It has been a phenomenal experience putting the world into the hands of my students and seeing them grow by leaps and bounds. Despite the WiFi problems, the ups and downs of trying to manage 25 devices with a program intended for only 1, and the frustrations of EVERYTHING taking longer than it used to – I have never had so much fun with my students.

I have never given them so much control, and therefore never had the opportunity to be so delighted by their creativity.

We experiment, we make mistakes, we learn – and we laugh.

A lot.

Evolving As A Teacher

Is it all because of the iPads? Of course not. As much as my students are evolving as learners in this environment, I am evolving as a teacher. The iPads are really only the catalyst – I am approaching the processes of teaching and learning differently. Partly because we have an amazing tool at our disposal that we didn’t have before. Giving students more freedom and control, and asking them to create and collaborate, is just easier and more convenient when you have a 1:1 classroom. But mostly, having the tools readily available sparks my own creativity.

It’s Not About The Device(s)

The opportunity to pilot this program pushed me to do more research, to think bigger, to try new ideas and methods – and to expect more from my students. I recently read a speech in which someone made the statement that it’s not really the devices that create this incredible learning environment – but how the devices spur teachers to recreate themselves and their classrooms. I couldn’t agree more.

Half Over.

So here I am, creeping up on the midpoint of the school year. There are amazing things happening in my classroom. My students have really become comfortable with their devices, and the technology component is finally helping us more and slowing us down less. We have reached a point where my students can pretty much figure out how to use apps and perform simple tech tasks without needing much help. The technology is becoming efficient to use. And it is simply wonderful. I love having assignments, projects, and quizzes emailed to me. I love being able to just tell my students to find a website, and they get there within a couple of minutes instead of a half-hour struggle in which I want to pull my hair out. I love the ways my classroom has evolved in the last 6 months.

And then I realize – the year is almost half over. My amazingly adept students will be leaving me before I know it. And come August, I will have 45 newbies again. Most of my students have limited access to technology. Some have no technology experience at all when they come to me. Next year, I will once again go through this process of teaching my students how to use their devices, in hopes that by December we can incorporate the technology painlessly. And then the next year I start over…again.

The Reset Button

reset buttonThis kind of makes me want to bury my head in the sand and pretend it isn’t really going to happen. That these wonderful kids aren’t going to leave me behind come May. And I imagine it will be just as difficult for them – to return to the world of having to wait until they have a class period in the computer lab to be able to access the technology that they are now accustomed to using constantly. This is perhaps one of the biggest reasons that 1:1 classrooms shouldn’t be isolated. I realize that I am participating in a pilot – that the whole point is to try it out in a few classrooms before taking the plunge and buying devices for an entire district. I get it. But starting from scratch every single year wastes SO much valuable time.

I absolutely will continue to do it – the payoff is worth it for my students and myself. And the time we take isn’t exactly wasted – my students are learning valuable technology skills. But I just keep thinking – if only the 5th graders had iPads, and we could just jump right in on Day 1 next year. An isolated 1:1 classroom doesn’t allow for the full potential of technology integration to be realized. It is inefficient, and if the technology skills can’t be fostered in future years, students will lose many of the benefits.

So while I really love my iPads, I feel strongly that a 1:1 district would be an even better situation than a 1:1 classroom. Since I don’t get to make those kinds of decisions, I’ll just keep hoping.

After all, a year ago I was searching for funding and thinking wistfully of all I could do with a classroom full of iPads.

2 Comments

  1. Megan

    December 6, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    This is a great argument for expanding 1:1 programs. Once students, and teachers, become accustomed to a certain way of doing things, they will find it difficult to regress. If it is not possible to start an entire school or district at once, then it is worth considering adding one grade at a time so that once students have had the ability to use these devices, they are not expected to forgo them the next year. Imagine if we did that to adults – “here is a fancy new tool that will make you much more productive and efficient, but you can only have it for a set amount of time. After that you have to go back to your old ways.” It would never work!

    For the schools concerned about managing the devices, there are options available that make it easy to send content to multiple devices at once.

  2. Barbara Disney

    December 7, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    I taught a few years with the author of the article, and I have to say, her success with her 1:1 program in her classroom does not surprise me one bit. Even without the benefit of the technology she now has at her disposal, she demonstrated incredible creativity, drive, and and unbelievable devotion to each and every one of her students.

    Kudos to you, my dear friend, and may you continue to have great success in your chosen field of educating our young. You will no doubt continue to add to your arsenal of amazing apps, techniques, and breakthroughs, and I will continue to follow your admirable growth as an educator and as an invaluable mentor to your very fortunate students. My wish for you is that the district sees the important strides that have been accomplished with this pilot program, and that they fund and supply all that is needed to continue and grow it for the benefit of students and teachers alike.