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Why Every Student Should Be In a 1:1 Classroom

by Kelly Walsh on April 18, 2012


1 to 1 Classroom Teacher Mark Pullen shares some observations on the benefits of this increasingly popular instructional technology.

As a teacher in a one-to-one (a.k.a. “1:1”) classroom, where each student has his/her own laptop computer, I have seen many benefits that this form of ubiquitous access to technology can provide.  The single most important benefit, however, is clear: 1:1 technology allows teachers to differentiate both in terms of how they teach and how the students are expected to demonstrate their learning.  Let’s examine both of these advantages in more detail.

Differentiation of Content Delivery
In traditional instruction, not involving the use of technology, teaching and learning were typically undifferentiated.  Teachers lectured to entire classes, largely unable to adapt to students’ readiness levels or learning styles.  Students were expected to learn the material presented at whatever pace was determined by the teacher or by the district curriculum.  The teacher was the one primary source of information in the room, resource materials like encyclopedias or (often out-of-date) textbooks were frequently the only other information sources available.

With 1:1 technology, content delivery can be differentiated, particularly through video ( is probably the largest and most famous free site attempting to use video in this way).  Videos can be paused and viewed multiple times by students for whom the traditional lecture moves too quickly.  Far better still, however, the entire model of content delivery through lecture-based learning can be replaced by student research or even project-based learning.

Differentiation of Student Assignments
Previously, without the help of technology, the undifferentiated content delivery described above was followed by one undifferentiated assignment which was given to all students, again without taking into account those students’ individual needs.  With 1:1 technology, assignments can be differentiated or even individualized through the use of adaptive technology that gets harder or easier based on previous student responses.

This can be particularly effective in math – a site like allows students to access practice problems for hundreds of specific topics by grade level (for all grade levels from kindergarten through high school) with each set of practice problems constantly changing based on previous answers the student has submitted.  Even better, instead of using the computer as an improved, adaptive form of worksheet, assignments can be completely remade into more meaningful projects.  Student writing can be published through blogs, experts can be interviewed in the classroom through Skype, students can do online research and then write their own textbook-replacing wikis, and more.

Human beings don’t naturally all learn the same material at the same pace and in the same way.  1:1 technology allows teachers to differentiate their content delivery and student assignments to meet the needs of all students.

About the author: Mark Pullen, 1:1 classroom teacher, on behalf of Worth Ave. Group. Worth Ave Group provides laptop, tablet computer, and iPad insurance to schools and universities. They have been insuring schools since 1971 (learn more at

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
Is Reverse Instruction Education Technology’s Perfect Storm?
Are you using technology to positively impact K-12 student learning? Get recognized!
School Administrators as Leaders of iPad Implementation Programs


Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer at The College of Westchester, in White Plains, NY, where he also teaches. In 2009, Walsh founded He frequently delivers presentations and training on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. His eBook, the Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book is available here. Walsh became the Community Administrator for the Flipped Learning Network in June of 2016. In his "spare time" he also writes, records, and performs original music ... stop by and have a listen!

[Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own, or those of other writers, and not those of my employer. - K. Walsh]

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelly Walsh March 31, 2016 at 7:11 am

Thanks ‘ddiianni’! I did not know Google Docs had that functionality – I’ll have to check it out. You might want to get to know Newsela –

ddiianni March 30, 2016 at 7:06 pm

Thank you for your comments on using 1:1 for differentiation. Kahn Academy is a great example of students self-directing their learning to accommodate their specific learning style. I recently discovered that Google Read and Write can increase or decrease the reading level of items in Docs. Do you have any other tools or websites that you would recommend to help differentiation?

Jordan May 19, 2014 at 4:27 pm

Great article, thank you! I am a 1:1 advocate but I have a question. If students forget to bring their device, what other creative ways can teachers us tech in their 1:1 classrooms. I found to be helpful but want to hear other suggestions.

@robrobson April 22, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Nice post. My classroom is almost 1:1; we just purchased a lot of 12 netbooks to compliment the current (outdated) laptop cart and computer lab. My students use Google Docs to create and share work with each other and myself. It has totally changed the way I can teach my intermediate grades. Earlier in the year I was concerned about having no new textbooks (I have pre-2000 texts in class)–now, everything we do has some connection to online research and current events. Students are far more motivated and they produce much better quality outputs than they would within the traditional classroom.

Gallit Zvi April 21, 2012 at 10:43 am


I totally agree that it is much more easy/effective to differentiate in a 1:1 classroom (my dream, by the way), however, I do think that it is possible to differentiate (to some degree) without tech.

My class is only 1:1 for about 15% of the week (we have to share the laptop cart between many classrooms) but I still hand out leveled work (when I can), assign a choice of projects, allow some students adaptive technology, etc.

Sure would be easier (and more exciting) with 1:1 though, that I agree with 100%
Thanks for sharing your findings!

Gallit Zvi
Gr 5/6 teacher
Surrey, BC, Canada

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