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Technology Today: A 1:1 Classroom

Technology Today: A 1:1 Classroom

The alarm clock on your phone. The emergency weather alerts via text message. The satellite radio streaming from your phone. The wireless thermostat. The watch that makes calls and sends messages. Stop for a second and consider technology’s vital role in your life, society, and world. With this in mind, it seems only logical that classrooms across America incorporate technology and provide technological experiences for students. This concept is not new. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, classrooms visited the school library or computer lab where students could type stories or play educational computer games. Fast forward nearly 30 years, and school districts are now issuing computers to students like they are textbooks. This movement, termed 1:1 (one to one), provides one school issued computer or device per student. Since there are both positive and negative aspects of 1:1, the key to a successful 1:1 classroom experience requires parents and educators to maximize the positives and be aware of the concerns. 

One of the most positive aspects of 1:1 is the use of a learning management system (LMS). By using a LMS, students become familiar with the way a LMS operates and feel more comfortable using one. Students are able to learn how to use a LMS in high school, and then when choosing to take an online class in college or when a college professor requires students to use a LMS, the students are more adequately prepared and are able to meet these expectations. 

A LMS enhances the educational experience when used to its fullest potential. Teachers are able to record instructional videos and tutorials and house them in their course. Assignments and assessments can be completed within the LMS; therefore, student work is stored within the LMS creating an electronic portfolio. When students are absent, they can access and submit work through the LMS preventing students from getting behind. With a LMS, student collaboration can extend beyond the four walls of the classroom as teachers can assign peer reviews, wikis, and collaborations between all students taught. 

Not only does a LMS allow student collaboration to extend beyond the four walls of the classroom but also class instruction. For example, the LMS Canvas has an application that can be downloaded to a smartphone or tablet. The app allows students to view instructional content, complete assignments, participate in discussion boards, and more from anywhere. Students can even record video from their phones to submit to assignments or discussion boards. 

While the LMS experience provides numerous student benefits, there are also benefits beyond the LMS. The computer contains various programs that enrich the educational experience. For example, all students have access to a word processing program and have the ability to type and submit essays and research papers outside of school. Similarly, the computers provide programs for creating  presentations. Before 1:1, these types of assignments were more difficult, especially in low socioeconomic schools where students lacked access. 

There are numerous benefits of 1:1, many more than can be discussed here; however, there are also some concerns. Students have a great responsibility to care for their device. While each district creates its own policies and procedures, many issue school devices with a small yearly fee. If damages occur, students can be responsible for the entire cost of the computer depending on the situation and damages. Students are also responsible for making sure their computers are charged and working properly for class. 

Within the classroom, teachers are responsible for establishing computer guidelines. Creating clear expectations helps prevent the computers from becoming a distraction. Students must understand the appropriate versus inappropriate time to use the computer during class, and the teacher must ensure that the students understand. The teacher must monitor the students carefully throughout the class when computers are being used in order to prevent inappropriate use and keep students on task. 

Similarly, parents have to establish computer guidelines for the home. Children need to understand any rules that parents want to set in regard to the use of a device. For example, boundaries for the amount of screen time allowed at home should be established in order to prevent overuse. Routines for charging and packing the computer for the next school day can help students be responsible and prepared. 

The benefits of 1:1 outweigh the concerns, but it is up to the teachers, parents, and students to make the most of this opportunity. 1:1 can truly help students on their paths to becoming college and career ready, and it is the responsibility of everyone involved to help guarantee this.

 

By Beth McKay

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