Common Classroom

Educators Talk About the Lessons Learned From Implementing 1-to-1

Planning to implement a 1-to-1 iPad or tablet program in your school? We talk with administrators who’ve been there. With their help, we’ve developed a free, comprehensive set of planning tools for your school’s 1-to-1 rollout.

Schools across the country continue to grapple with the challenges of introducing 1-to-1 technology—one device per student, which allows all students to have access to technology at all times, and helps them become 21st-century learners. However, to be effective, 1-to-1 programs require adequate training, ongoing tech support, adequate bandwidth, parental involvement (since the devices go home with the students), and plans in place to address safety and upkeep.

Common Sense Media has recently created a new resource for administrators tasked with implementing 1-to-1 programs. The 1-to-1 Essentials Program provides interactive and customizable tools for schools to prepare and execute a 1-to-1 program that is consistent with their mission, culture, and goals. The free program also includes resources that highlight best practices from 1-to-1 educators, some of whom helped develop the program.

One of the educator advisors is Don Orth, Director of Technology at Hillbrook School in Los Gatos, California, which is in its the third year of 1-to-1 implementation. Orth said that even three years in, they still face obstacles and are constantly trying to make their program more suitable for students, teachers, and parents.

“One of the things we’re trying to improve on is involving parents in the process,” said Orth. “We have a meeting with parents to talk about iPads and expectations. We want them in that conversation.” Orth added that parents participate in homework assignments for the first few weeks of his school’s 1-to-1 program, which begins in fifth grade, and that the school provides additional resources for parents online.

Common Sense Media’s 1-to-1 Essentials Program includes resources for parents, such as customizable tools to help families develop their own media agreements. It also includes an EdTech glossary to help demystify the new classroom technologies.

“We always talk about parents being involved, making sure that they know how students are using them and what our expectations are as well,” said Orth. “If you don’t involve the parents, it could cause the program to fail.”

Another reason to encourage parental involvement, says Orth, is to ensure that parents are comfortable enough with the technology to regulate the device outside the classroom and inside the home.

“We are empowering parents to set those guidelines,” said Orth. “Our job as a school is to help them know that it is in their jurisdiction.”

iPads bring their own set of hurdles. In many ways they’re harder to manage than a laptop. “The last few years we’ve been trying to be smart about how we use iPads in particular,” Orth said, with a focus on how they police iPad rules and regulations.

“There aren’t a lot of management tools [for iPads]. Locking them down and restricting them is a lot of work. Now we’re working to teach kids about misuse. Rather than trying to lock it all down we really talk about how to use it and the expectations we have.”

Many schools grapple with this question of policing devices versus giving students an acceptable use policy (AUP) and empowering them to police themselves. The customizable 1-to-1 Essentials Program can help schools develop their own AUP and offer adaptable resources that can be aligned with a variety of school communities and their unique cultures.

Director of Technology at Nueva School Edward Chen, who also worked with Common Sense Media to design the 1-to-1 Essentials Program, helped adapt his school’s AUP into a questionnaire instead of a list of dos and don’ts. “It’s more like holding kids to ethical standards,” said Chen, who arrived at Nueva School during its third year of the 1-to-1 laptop program.

The current AUP policy, he said, was student driven. Students initially boycotted the AUP and ripped it up. The school allowed the student council to help redraft a new version of the AUP, which students subsequently agreed to sign. The head of the middle school at the time, Matt Levinson, found the experience to be such a teachable moment, he wrote a book on the subject in 2010.

“We’ve learned a lot in terms of how devices work with kids, and how kids work with devices,” said Chen, who has since helped his school develop a list of best practices. The Common Sense Media program incorporates many of these.

The 1-to-1 Essentials Program includes three phases of the rollout process: envisioning, planning, and implementation. It includes an itemized list of the tools available in the new program, including:

The program is available for free online to registered members.

As Orth said, “Kids have access now, in a very portable way,” and it’s our job to provide you with the resources you need to navigate the learning process that accompanies this new access and portability. 

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As a first grade teacher I am exploring blogging opportunities that provide support to students with special needs. How can I use technology to help meet the needs of all students? Which apps are actually useful?