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Why Every Student Should Be In a 1:1 Classroom

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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  The teacher was the one primary source of information in the room, resource materials like encyclopedias or (often out-of-date) textbooks were frequently the only other information sources available.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 (khanacademy.org 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 ixl.com 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  http://www.worthavegroup.com/education

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
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School Administrators as Leaders of iPad Implementation Programs

41 COMMENTS

  1. 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?

  2. 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 http://exitticket.org/dont-have-1-to-1/ to be helpful but want to hear other suggestions. exitticket.org

  3. […] Why Every Student Should Be In a 1:1 Classroom 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 <i>how they teach </i> and <i>how the students are expected to demonstrate their learning </i>. Reflections on Instructional Design What is instructional design ? A friend and colleague of mine, Rob Barton, asked (and answered) this question in a fairly recent blog post . His thoughts are interesting and have made me think of my own response to that question- what is instructional design? Here are my thoughts (which are fairly similar what Rob wrote). Archive Your Tweets with IFTTT We’ve written fairly extensively about Twitter here at ProfHacker. (Just take a look at the archive of our posts that have been tagged “Twitter.” ) A challenge of this medium is how to keep your Tweets — should you be inclined to do so — in long-term storage. I joined Twitter five (!) years ago this month, but I’ve only recently started trying archive what I write through this otherwise ephemeral outlet. While you can be sure that your Tweets are being saved online somewhere by someone (whether it’s Twitter, the Library of Congress , or some other entity) you cannot necessarily access those archives, and you might want to keep your own collection just to be on the safe side. 10 Things You Can Do To Make Yourself an Ed Tech Star This Summer As I watch Twitter at this time of year I see a mix of sadness, relief, and excitement that the school year is ending for many teachers. The summer is a great time to tackle some of that personal learning that got pushed to the back burner during the school year. If one of your goals for the summer is to improve your knowledge and skills in educational technology, here are ten things that you can do to work toward that goal. 1. Twitter comes up frequently on ProfHacker. We write about Twitter in the classroom , Twitter for conference (and unconference) backchannels , and using Twitter as part of a web presence strategy . One of my first ProfHacker posts was all about how and why academics should consider using the service . When it comes to the classroom, however, there are complications with requiring Twitter. […]

  4. […] “Why 1:1 Classrooms rock” This is a blog written by a teacher, who teaches in a 1:1 classroom. In this blog he discusses briefly how being 1:1 has had a positive effect on his classroom. He also discusses how being 1:1 makes learning easier on his students because they all have different learning styles, and do not learn at the same pace. […]

  5. […] 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 http://www.worthavegroup.com/education Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out): 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. Why Every Student Should Be In a 1:1 Classroom | Emerging Education Technology […]

  6. 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.

  7. Hello,

    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!

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

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