1:1 Device Ratio: A Fad or the Future?

The pandemic has significantly changed life and schools have had to adapt in the way they deliver teaching and learning. Discussions around having 1:1 devices have been around since long before the pandemic, as far back as the 1990s in some schools. With the number of manufacturers offering exceptional value on devices and the pandemic significantly changing life, you would be forgiven for being caught up in the hype of 1:1 devices and thinking it’s the way forward for your school.

The truth, however, is far more complex and any decision to move to 1:1 devices should be very carefully considered. I often get asked “should I go to 1:1 devices in my school?”, and my usual response is to ask “do you have the key components in place for an effective 1:1 deployment?” To which the response is mostly met with blank expressions and uncertainty. It is not simply enough to say yes or no as to whether you should move to a 1:1 device ratio in any school or organisation.

There are four key pillars that need to be in place before you consider moving to a 1:1 device ratio.

Do you have a clear understanding of how the curriculum is to be delivered using a blended approach (online and offline)?

Simply placing a device in front of every child and expecting the teacher to be able to work them into their lesson is wholly unrealistic. Without a clear strategy and understanding of how teaching and learning are to be delivered in a blended learning environment, you are simply purchasing very expensive textbooks (or coasters).

The devices themselves are not the answer to the problem, they are simply one element of the solution. Having a clear plan that outlines how the devices will be used in your day to day learning and the associated pedagogy is the only way to maximise value when moving to 1:1 devices.

Do you have an online learning platform?

A device is just an electronic textbook (albeit a very advanced textbook) and if there isn’t an online learning platform in place, the device itself will not deliver value. An online learning platform such as Google Classroom facilitates learning, in a coordinated manner that helps to deliver outcomes in a way that works for you and your students.

Without an online platform, it is impossible to monitor work or progress without going through each and every device and reviewing saved documents. An online learning platform will provide easy access to all student work at the click of a button. This will allow your teachers to have a far more healthy work-life balance and stops the need for carrying 30+ textbooks home and back again to assess progress.

Are staff and students equipped for online learning?

Any project, big or small, will always be reliant on staff and students being behind the project and understanding the benefits it will have on their learning. Failure to get your stakeholders behind a project spells disaster before you have even begun.

Training is absolutely vital in the success of the delivery of online learning. Being comfortable with education platforms will maximise the outcomes of teaching and learning. For students, policies on device usage and controls around security are also required to ensure risks are managed.

Internet Connectivity?

Without high-quality internet connectivity, online learning fails, it’s as simple as that. Within the school premises, having high-quality wireless and internet connectivity enables the learning experience to thrive. Learning is not just for the classroom it is a continuous process and understanding connectivity at home is just as vital for online learning.

We have all suffered from the dreaded “wheel of death”, that moment when you are demonstrating something to the class or trying to find out some information and you are met with a spinning icon which seems like an endless wait. What happens if you’ve waited 30 seconds and you’ve closed and reopened the web page several times to try and get it to work and it still doesn’t? You move on, you lose interest and you lose concentration. Precisely what you don’t want to happen in your lessons.

Every one of these elements is just as important as the others. Take any one of these 4 key pillars out and the whole thing comes crashing down like a house of cards. If you have the key components in place, a 1:1 device deployment can deliver outstanding outcomes through online learning, whilst simultaneously preparing the next generation for the future.

I appreciate that not all schools have the budget to make a 1:1 ratio possible however, there are a number of different options that can be considered which will bring the same benefits as a 1:1 ratio, one of which is BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) which we will discuss in a future edition of the newsletter.