When a school considers running a 1:1 programme (where every child has their own device to use in class and at home), be it for one cohort or for the whole school, it represents a major undertaking and not one that should be made lightly. so what teachers want to know is quite a lot!
The first and probably the most important thing to remember is that it is not about the device but how it is used and integrated as a tool for teaching and learning. It can be very easy to be pulled along with the popular device of the day and not give enough thought about what you want to do with it and if it is the most effective way of achieving it. Our first piece of advice to schools therefore is to consider what a 1:1 programme can do for you.
We would hope that the thinking and planning for a programme would include input from and consideration of all teaching staff and we actively encourage this from the earliest possible time.
There are a number of, important, questions that you as a teacher will probably be asking. In the 15 years+ that we have been helping schools we feel confident that we can not only anticipate them but also provide you with very satisfactory answers. So, here are, what we think are likely to be, your main questions:
What difference does it make?
Much has been talked about the benefits of using 1:1 technology mostly positive but you quite rightly want to have more solid evidence of the impact. Fortunately, there is a vast amount of supportive evidence that will help you feel more confident about going forward as well as the ever increasing number of schools that have been running successful programmes for several years and are more than happy to show how they work and the positive impact it has had. To find out more have a look at our ‘evidence’ page and our ‘Regional Champion Schools’. Although the key measure you will be looking for is in improved attainment there are less tangible, but equally valuable, befits such as; improved engagement, improved attendance, improved classroom discipline and even improved homework returns.
Is there more than one way of running a programme?
There are a number of different provision options that you should consider. We have looked into all of them and prepared a ‘for and against’ comparison for each. You can find the full details in our toolkit ‘Provision Options’.
How will this benefit my teaching?
From your perspective there are potentially a lot of things that the introduction of a 1:1 programme will allow you to do differently. This is not about producing a PowerPoint slide or two, your lesson plan can include the use of a wide selection of software such as a maths tutors, science experiments, etc. You will also have the opportunity for teacher/pupil interaction such as collaborative learning and instant feedback.
You can give your pupils the freedom to prepare a project piece using any tools they wish. You may even choose to completely ’flip’ your lesson. Although the school or head of department may wish to manage the extent to which it used, at least initially, within that criteria you will have a wealth of new tools, techniques and experiences that will add new zest into your lessons.
Will I get training?
We always emphasise the importance of solid training for all teaching staff in the form of CPD that starts as early as possible, and certainly well before the launch of the programme. It is important to remember that many of your pupils will already be very comfortable with the technology and, in some cases, could even be more advanced than you. It is threefore important that you are brought up to speed, not just with how to use the device and some of the software but also how to integrate it into your lesson by exploiting the new opportunities it offers. There are a number of specialist companies that offer this service, depending on the device choice you make. Our ‘Teacher engagement’ section in the toolkit will give you more information about this.
Is it safe?
It is quite understandable to worry about the use to which the device is put by your pupils. There has been a fair amount of press covering online bullying, grooming and access to inappropriate material. These are all areas that we cover when we are helping schools plan their programme but it is also important to remember that this is not just the schools or your responsibility. When the device is given to the pupils they and their parents should be asked to sign what we call a Home / School agreement that sets out clearly the responsibilities of each party with regard to looking after it and using it appropriately.
What’s in it for me?
If you are more comfortable with the more traditional lesson format, which is working well for you, you may wonder what the value is in yet another change, on top of all the constant changes imposed by successive Government Ministers etc. Well we believe very strongly that, once you get to the new approach and the benefits listed above kick in, your life will be considerably easier in all sorts of ways. Your class will be more interested and responsive, homework will be more complete and easier to mark and results will be better. We really would encourage you to embrace the change and bask in the benefits…
Will it last or is it just another fad?
YES it will last but not without a contribution from everyone involved. This programme is all about teamwork. Not just the teaching staff but the parents & pupils as well. The school needs to be sure the infrastructure is robust and the support efficient and fast. It is important that good communication with parents is developed and maintained, particularly if parents are donating to the programme.
We encourage the introduction of Digital Champions, where pupils ,staff and even parents can take on this role so that they can help guide others on how to make effective use of the devices and the software or Apps that they use. More information can be found in the toolkit ‘engagement’ section. Make sure this is happening and your programme will be a success, year after year.
What are the common pitfalls?
Technology before pedagogy
Often the latest gadgets are introduced without giving adequate thought as to ‘why’. As a teacher you'll know that education is all about purpose. Integrating technologies into your classroom needs to be relevant and purposeful; it needs to make learning easier and more engaging and effective for all of your students - whatever level they are at or aptitude they have. So - ask yourself ….. "Why am I using this technology and how will it improve learning in my classroom?". Think pedagogy and curriculum before technology.
Technology as a toy
Too often classroom technology is often perceived as being used as a toy. But, to be effective, technology needs to be used as a tool to support learning, not as a gadget (as much as we all love them). The children that we educate in the 21st century are often already digital natives and are the leaders of tomorrow. Children will already be using technology for their own entertainment in their own time. In schools, we need to capitalise on this and steer this natural inclination to teach them lifelong learning skills for the future.
Technology to fill in time
Technology should be used as a learning tool, not as a tool to fill in time or simply to keep students ‘busy’. Every spare moment in our classrooms should be full of engaging, learning opportunities. It is powerful to see teachers that are passionate about their jobs, and who are utilising technology in new and innovative ways.
Not utilising the technology available
I am sure you have seen this before … a teacher is equipped with the best possible tools to integrate technology into their classroom and the technology sits in the corner of the room, in the trolley or in a cupboard gathering dust while students yearn to see the technology brought out. No matter how hard you try, you can’t pry the key out of their hands to unlock the learning potential. While this is not in itself a mistake, it is close enough. You cannot make mistakes if you don’t take risks and this is the hardest thing to see. With the balance of evidence and opinion moving from the positive to the negative and vice versa, especially in the popular press it can be difficult for some to take that leap of faith and open that cupboard.
A framework for mobile learning was developed through research conducted by Kearney et al in 2012 identifying three key elements educators should consider when deploying mobile technologies and particularly when made available on a 1:1 basis and these were: Personalisation; Collaboration and Authenticity:
More on pedagogy and learning can be found under the Evidence/Research section.