The idea of 1:1 education is further developed in the USA, so I’ll take some examples from there.

Pennsylvania’s 1-to-1 computing initiative Classrooms for the Future

It has supported 12,000 teachers and 500,000 students statewide. The programme equips English, maths, science and social studies classrooms with internet-connected laptops and advanced learning resources.

A key finding is that success revolves around training to ensure that teachers had the skills necessary to fully take advantage of the new devices that were available. They received professional development that helped them elevate their capabilities beyond traditional teaching techniques, enabling them to better support personalised learning.

Training should also be treated as an ongoing process, not a one-time event. It takes time to learn to teach in a 1-to-1 environment. By providing ongoing support and coaching, key skills and competencies can be cultivated most effectively. And by providing a mix of virtual and face-to-face training, teachers are most likely to acquire skills that stick. Once teachers become digital teachers they can’t go back to being analogue teachers!

In addition, Pennsylvania ensured adequate IT support staff with tools to enable them to remotely diagnose and repair hardware problems. Teachers are not computer technicians!

Quakertown Community School District in Pennsylvania

They created a “self-blend” learning environment for students. Some take online classes at home, and others work on them during free periods during the school day. There are cyber lounges, where students can work comfortably in a cafe setting between their face-to-face classes. The online courses allow students to move at their own pace and complete courses based on competency rather than being tethered to the traditional semester timeline.

Carpe Diem a secondary school (US grades 6 to 12, ages 11-18) in Yuma, Arizona

It uses a ‘flipped’ model. In 35-minute increments students rotate from online learning for concept introduction and instruction to face-to-face for reinforcement and application. In 2010, Carpe Diem ranked first in its county in student performance in maths and reading and in the top 10 percent of Arizona schools.

San Diego school district

They equipped their students with 1:1 computers and, significantly, they highlight the speed of feedback on student understanding as the key immediate benefit.

Says Blake-Plock, who writes the popular Teach Paperless blog: “It’s this model of deeply analyzing the data in a way that no human teacher would have time to do, and mapping lessons to kids’ abilities, that’s fundamental to what education is going to look like in the future. Technology allows students to go in their own direction, which is really difficult to do in a classroom with 30 different kids at 30 different levels in 50 minutes.”

New York City’s School of One

A fascinating experiment based at Dr. Sun Yat Sen Middle School in Chinatown, New York, it provides maths lessons that are customised every day to meet the individual needs and progress of the 80 incoming 7th-graders (12-year-olds) who volunteered to attend the five-week session.

The School of One combined face-to-face instruction, software-based activities, and online lessons designed to move each new 7th grader through a defined set of maths benchmarks at his or her own pace.

As students entered school each morning, they could view their schedules for the day on a computer monitor—similar to the arrival and departure boards at airports!—and proceed to the assigned locations. A student’s schedule could include traditional lessons from a teacher, small-group work, virtual learning, or specific computer-based activities. After each half-day of instruction, teachers entered data on students’ progress and instructional needs into a computer program that recommended the next day’s tasks.

Preliminary data showed significant student progress toward mastering the skills targeted in the scheme. The school—named one of the 50 best inventions of 2009 by Time magazine—has now expanded to three middle schools in the city as an after-school programme.

Project Red www.projectred.org

is a good resource on what works and doesn’t work. It has pulled together the experience of several thousand early-adopter schools in the USA and created 9 steps to successfully using the new technology.
1. Getting the commitment of the senior leadership group
2. Timely professional development
3. Use the technology daily – not occasionally
4 Use it to promote more student-to-student collaboration
5. Use it to personalise learning
6. Get students using technology to create their own e-books, digital presentations and digital stories
7. Be realistic in specifying devices that stand up to the stresses of daily student handling
8. Use it to extend the time and place for learning – ie outside school hours and school walls
9. Create quantified expected outcomes for your investment in advance, measure against them and refine your program accordingly.

Outside USA

South Korea has created a National Virtual School and switched to digital content from textbooks. China with 100 million new students has a Digitized K-12 curriculum and is training Master Teachers to teach online. In Singapore 100% of secondary schools use online learning and all teachers are trained to teach online and viaBlended Learning Environment.

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