1:1 Learning Initiatives Are Essential, but Require Careful Planning and Execution
Writing in the journal Information, Communication and Society, educators Patrick White and Neil Selwyn note that “rather than serving to equalize opportunities, as some had hoped, the Internet is merely reinforcing the inequalities that exist elsewhere in society.” (16: 3, 397–420, March 2013)
As Lori Ramsey argues in our current In Focus article, school-sponsored technology for those in the most need can help overcome those divides, increasing “digital inclusion” and helping to prepare all students for the requirements of the twenty-first century.
While a number of school systems are heeding the call, many haven't. In fact, as Chelsea Clinton blogged in The Daily Beast: “[A]nother digital divide is emerging: between those educators, parents, and students re-imagining teaching and learning for the 21st century using technology, and those who are not.”
One-to-one technology—in which each student and teacher in a given school or district is assigned an electronic device, and especially if students can take those devices home—has the potential to level the playing field in an even more precise and targeted way than if technology is simply used in the classroom. I believe there is a moral imperative to explore the possibilities of this approach.
Lori makes a compelling case that when this technology is used well it can enhance learning. She provides step-by-step advice to would-be “re-imaginers” on issues associated with selecting technology, determining appropriate access to that technology, identifying rich curricula and other learning resources, and providing support to teachers to ensure the effective integration of the technology inside and outside of the classroom.
In the 17 years that Metis has been evaluating educational technology programs, the results consistently show that these initiatives must be done with forethought, organization, and fidelity to best practices. It can't be left to whimsy. Otherwise, it becomes a potential burden for already overworked educators and a strain on—rather than an extension of—limited educational resources.
– Stanley Schneider, President