Making the Leap to 1:1 a Success Takes Proper Planning
Initiatives to place tech devices in the hands of each student are by no means a new practice in K-12 districts. Although classrooms have been transitioning to 1:1 for quite some time now, school leaders still struggle with the decisions that need to be made to bring tech implementation into fruition.
Unfortunately, selecting a device for an entire student population takes more forethought than performing a Google search on which device is the best on the market right now. In addition to the cost factor, the tools that might work best for one district won’t work well for yours. After considering existing broadband capabilities, each district that embarks on a new 1:1 initiative should keep the following factors in mind.
1. Collect staff and student input
Distribute a survey to staff and students to better understand how 1:1 tech can fit their needs. Questions might concern which tech they feel most comfortable with or what challenges they have run into before when using tech in the classroom.
A tech survey often brings up issues that district leaders hadn’t thought of before. For example, a teacher might point out that speakers on certain devices don’t provide high enough quality sound for listening activities.
2. Determine how the device will most often be used
When implementing a 1:1 rollout, it is key to have a blueprint of the district’s digital curriculum in mind. While an iPad might work best for some schools because of portability, other schools might require laptops with physical typing capabilities and a disc drive.
Even if your staff hasn’t hammered out the specific details of your digital curriculum, you can get a sense of the top priorities in your tech teaching. For example, district leaders will likely know if game-based learning will be a common practice in the classroom. Overarching priorities like game-based learning will help you determine which devices will be most supportive in 1:1 instruction.
3. Research the endurance of the hardware
If the price of a device seems too good to be true, it most likely is. For K-12 tech purchasing, durability has to be a top priority. Before investing in a device to deliver to all of your students, conduct research on how many years it typically lasts and how easy it is to update the device.
Tech companies that cater to educational needs often have a warranty or tech replacement guarantee. Shop around to determine which companies provide the most support in terms of making your products last.
4. Consider how easily current digital curriculum will integrate with new tools
Whether teachers are already using a program, or your curriculum directors intend to introduce a new app in the upcoming years, take the time to figure out how compatible devices are with the software in your digital curriculum.
Even if a program your staff is currently using is available on a device, it might not be as user-friendly as the version they are currently using. Browse the reviews on an app store or online to see what users have to say about using the software on the device.
5. Factor in additional maintenance needs
When students aren’t using their gadgets, tech will need to be stored in a secure place. Technology carts are one solution to stow away student devices. The accompanying storage needs of any device should be factored into the cost analysis.
In addition to storing devices, technology carts typically provide charging capabilities. While researching tech storage options, it’s a good idea to question how long it will take gadgets to charge and how long they will retain battery power. A 1:1 initiative can’t be successful if students are unable to use the device for the length of time as outlined in the curriculum.
6. Prioritize peripherals
For most schools, a device alone won’t be enough to meet all of the digital learning needs. Tools such as keyboards, mice, microphones and tablet stands are often necessary. You might even find that a digital microscope could effectively support your 1:1 instruction.
Like technology carts, district leaders must factor in the cost of peripherals when making the move to 1:1 instruction. Items like gaming headsets can enhance your digital curriculum, and increase the functionality of the devices purchased.
7. Don’t underestimate the power of lists
Finding the best tech for your 1:1 rollout should be a time-consuming process, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be complicated. Create a cohesive and organized checklist for each technology tool that you look into. When the time comes to make a purchasing decision, your research efforts will ensure that you are making the best choice.