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1:1 Is Not Enough

There is a positive buzz in our school about our 1:1 iPad pilot expanding to program phase. This will bring another twenty teachers and another 1300 students into our 1:1 program. Our students and their parents are excited, our teachers are excited, and our administrative team is excited. I have been wishing and preparing for this time during the past several years suspecting that tremendous learning opportunities await all of us. However, there is one significant problem...it's not enough.

Start With Why - Shelley Wright



Why 1:1?  

Too many posts, discussions, and tweets are identifying connected mobile devices as the silver bullets that will eliminate student apathy and low achievement. Transformational learning will occur when we give students and educators the freedom and resources to become individually responsible for their learning. Ubiquitous Internet access and the connected devices, much like the slide-rules and books of a previous learning age, are the tools that will help disrupt stagnant educational practices. Connected learning will help us re-examine and redefine our understanding of school, and of education. The nature of learning, however, will change with the pedagogical shifts (disruptions) of our students and teachers. The device will often take a back seat when the WHY questions are repeatedly kept up front. (Graphical summary of learning theories)

Four examples of pedagogical shift supported by a 1:1 learning environment
  • Project-Based Learning - can be a curricular design, as well as, an instructional methodology. The final project is predetermined. Students can create oral, written, visual, or multimedia projects. These projects can / should be interdisciplinary, collaborative, and authentic. Projects address a central theme or question, often revolving around a school or community need. In a 1:1 setting, students have numerous choices and digital tools for presenting their learning to authentic, web-connected audiences.  +Edutopia's Project-Based Professional Development Guide is an excellent PBL resource for educators. In addition, The Buck Institute for Education (BIE) has an excellent website full of helpful PBL resources. "Projects vs. Project Based Learning"


  • Problem-Based Learning - is an instructional design and methodology in which students are presented with, or choose, an authentic problem to solve. Students will identify their current knowledge, identify what needs to be researched or investigated, and then apply the new learning to resolving the problem. Self-assessment and reflection are often included in the learning evaluation.  (Why Problem Based Learning is Better, Tim Holt - PLP Network) As with project-based learning, problem-based assignments can be interdisciplinary, and collaborative.  In a 1:1 learning environment, students can instantly obtain "real-time" information, and collaborate with experts outside the bounds of the conventional classroom. Once again, solutions are digitally published, or shared with authentic audiences. +IMSA's (Illinois Math & Science Academy) website is a wonderful collection of PBL resources.
  • Inquiry-Based Learning - is an instructional methodology where students create and explore a question in-depth. Further questions are introduced in the student's quest for understanding.  As with the PBL examples, Inquiry-Based Learning is student centered, motivating, and a bit messy.  In a 1:1 learning environment, information is unlimited, and knowledge is shared with authentic audiences. Thirteen.org is a website dedicated to providing resources that support Inquiry-Based Learning.
  • Challenge-Based Learning - emphasizes technology in a multidisciplinary, collaborative environment. Students use learning networks in the formation of globally challenging questions, research and investigation for deep understanding, and finally, the development of local action plan that addresses the original global issue. CBL is student-centered, focuses on authentic issues and solutions, and provides frequent opportunities for metacognition and reflection. Challenge Based Learning.org is an excellent starting point for learning more about this learning methodology. Here a Slideshare presentation that thoroughly explains CBL.
These four methodologies can be used together, in sequence, or interchangeably depending on learning objectives, targeted standards, and student characteristics. When supported in a 1:1 learning environment, PBL/IBL/CBL will motivate students by providing authentic learning opportunities, higher level thinking opportunities, opportunities for metacognition, and opportunities to engage in meaningful, connected, learning activities. Methodologies such as these promote "dispositions of learning" that are long lasting and transformative in nature. The pressure is off of teachers to be the content expert as they can now focus on being a cognitive coach for students. Parents don't care about content, they want to see their children engaged in meaningful learning activities that emphasize skills that will translate to adult fulfillment and productivity.

1:1 is not a curricular design nor an instructional methodology.  1:1 by itself - is not enough.

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