Tuesday, March 3, 2015


Many schools offer 1:1 programs for students. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, the school provides a device to the student to use as their "own" for the length of time they are a student in that school or district. There are various pro's and con's to this kind of program, but that is a larger debate. My school is not lucky enough to offer such a program, yet. I will keep pushing until it happens, but until then we need to be creative. It can also be challenging to book computer labs and laptops for students when they are in high demand among all teachers. How can I create a 1:1 environment and deliver a flipped classroom that is all the rage these days, when the technology isn't quite there?

Here's how:

My school has a unique cell phone/personal device policy. Students are allowed to bring
them to school, use them "freely" at certain times and places throughout the day and are allowed to use them at teacher discretion. Within any given class a teacher could assume that 99% of the students in that room have some kind of personal device on them. One that is capable of accessing the Internet and use as a pseudo 1:1 environment. Allowing students to use their own devices that they are comfortable with  and really know how to use, can be a huge advantage compared to giving them a device and saying "Here. You have to use this."  It is not uncommon to walk through my classroom and see various devices out and about. If you were to look at the screens of those devices you would see many of the same apps running; Google Classroom, Google Scholar, Wikipedia, and Issuu. I allow my students to use their devices, and encourage the use for learning purposes. It helps provide that 1:1 environment without purchasing a device. This also allows me to use Google Classroom as a mechanism for a flipped environment. Knowing that 99% of students have a device, and 99% of them can get access from home, I am confident that I can deliver a flipped environment through various devices.

Now what about that 1% of students who do not have devices? Here's where the hoarder creative teacher comes into play. First and foremost, teachers are hoarders. If we hone those skills to hoard "old" technology,  we can provide for our students. I have been able to obtain 35 "old" desktop machines, 3 "old" laptops, 8 "old" netbooks, and I am always on the lookout for more. These "old" machines are ones that were labeled as trash, because they were slow, or had windows xp. The easy solution was to wipe the hard drive and install Linux. Just like that, these "old" machines are speedier, and more responsive then the brand new machines kicking around the building. This allows me the freedom to sign out machines to students who might need them. I really only have 11 machines that are practical to sign out, however that is 11 students that I can provide that 1:1 for if they do not have their own device.

I mentioned that a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is advantageous to a 1:1 setting. Think about the one device you have that you really love to use. Think about how well you can use that device to find out something completely random and useless like what was the name of the horror movie that kick started Julia Louis-Dreyfus's career?  Now if I handed you a random device and asked you the same question, how much longer and how much more frustrated might you get trying to find the same information? Compound that by a million to understand how a student might feel when they are asked to find some serious information related to the content on a device they don't like and don't really know how to use. This is where their own device eases the pain of researching content information.

To conclude this long winded post, if your school policy allows for it, and you do not have a 1:1 program, or your 1:1 program is struggling, try letting students use their own devices. You might be surprised at the results.

No comments:

Post a Comment