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Identifying the Right 1:1 for Your District

If you're like many of the people I've talked to over the last few months, you've been tasked with outlining a 1:1 strategy and implementation plan for 2019 that will work for your district. Where do you start? Providing a device for every student in your district can be daunting. My experience in working with hundreds of districts that deployed 1:1 is that there are several key questions that you need to answer in order to put down the foundation of your plan. Key areas include identifying:

  • The purpose of going 1:1
  • How to stratify the 1:1 deployment--do you separate by grade levels? by how 'testable' (keyboard) they are? by point of use (home, school, public venues?) 
  • How inclusive should the scope be in 1:1 --by OS? by device type? by browser? 
  • The type of digital content that will be leveraged 
  • The cost!

To begin to develop a 1:1 plan, there are three key areas that you need to answer in order to put down the foundation of your plan. Key points include identifying:

1) Socioeconomics of Your District:
To create a plan, you need to first understand both the budget of the district and your district's socioeconomic situation.The right solution will fit the greatest number of families. To outline this, consider:

  • What is the percentage of free and reduced lunch participants?
  • Is it likely that students have connectivity at home? 
  • Are there true and perceived income gaps across the district? 
  • What's the median age and education level of parents across the district?

While it is great, in theory, for students to have a Chromebook or laptop at home that is district provided, there are a many factors to consider before allowing them to go home. For example, perhaps a cart-based option might be better than sending home laptops for the year. A deep understanding of the socioeconomics across your district can help you to make a judicious choice that will fit the greatest number of students (and their parents') situation. While our goal as educators is to be as inclusive as possible, we must also balance this with the understanding of the technology gap and access to technology so that we can define the optimal 1:1 strategy.

2) Intended Device Usage:
Once you have the devices in every students' hand, it is key to take the time to outline all of the use cases of the student. What are they going to do on the devices? Start thinking through:

  • What digital content is actually being accessed? Unfortunately, a lot of the content available are PDF versions of textbooks 
  • Are students supposed to just view content, or are they supposed to interact with content through interactive apps? 
  • How different is the content between elementary, middle and high school and what are the key criteria pertaining to each?

3) The Teacher Factor:
A successful 1:1 plan allows teachers to do what they do best--creatively adapt to their student populations to entice them to engage their minds. Identifying success for a 1:1 plan runs a continuum, but a highly successful plan strikes the balance to allow teachers the freedom to source content that will appeal to their students within a safety net of compliance with district policies. A great 1:1 district plan includes allowances that ask:

  • How can we allow teachers the creative freedom to source the content they need in a way that is safe and secure for the teacher, students and parents?
  • How can the teacher still maintain control in a classroom? How can we provide access to the teacher to view the screens of students in real time?
  • How can we provide access to students to utilize the Internet for research, but provide a safe and secure way in which to do so?
  • How can teachers encourage collaboration and exploration using digital technology in a way that does not open themselves to personal liability, or expose children to any danger? 
  • Do these needs increase or decrease the amount of time the content filter administrator needs to spend in the content filter?

Answering the Challenge

The reality we are now facing is that we are putting 28+ devices in a teachers' classrom and in front of their students and we desperately need a sound plan that protects administrators, teachers and students. Obviously, there are going to be a lot of stakeholders in the 1:1 decision. A few ideas that can help are to:

  • Create a 1:1 Committee
    Pull from different departments that will bring in different perspectives from their respective fields. Consider including instruction/curriculum, IT, HR, legal, security (physical), and financial departments;
  • Brainstorm Outcomes
    Work together to list out potential outcomes if their departments adopted a 1:1 strategy 
    and ask them how they think a device in every students' hand may affect their sphere of influence. With this information, you can start to factor in which type of 1:1 makes sense for your district and how you need to start preparing for a rollout. 
  • Get Expert Help
    Don't feel you have to go it alone! We are in the midst of digital transformation and it is imperative that you seek the help of experts to help mitigate risks to create the right solution! We are passionate about opening up the dialogue and bringing in the right stakeholders to understand the severity of the topic. You can always count on us to be able to address the tough topics and provide solutions that are designed from the school districts' point of view.

Topics: 1:1, US schools, capacity planning, school administrator, system administrator

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