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Saturday, 23 February 2013

1:1 computing is not enough!


The notion of device provision has been on my mind for a while now ... what is best for the learner? Often we see chest inflation from schools about their provision and the ratio they may have per pupil. It would be easy to think we have moved beyond this discussion but in truth I believe many people are still missing the point. From what I can see, schools are still talking provision statistics. Regularly you hear of the latest school to go 1:1 with the latest device! 1:1 Laptops, 1:1 Netbooks, 1:1 iPads, 1:1 Chromebooks... what next? 1:1 this, 1:1 that? Is this really preparing students for the world they have to live in? After all, as educators, this is our job!

Don’t get me wrong, the idea of 1:1 computing is very appealing to me, especially in my role. Let’s take the iPad for example, 1:1 provision of this device is incredible. You give every student a device and install a load of Apple TV devices and hey... you’re away! Of course it is not as simple as that, but you get the basic idea. You deliver your content through one system (probably iTunes U) and everyone is happy! Does happy equal great learning though? In truth, this model supports some fantastic learning and yes the correct application with sound teaching will lead to improved results and better outcomes for pupils. But... critically, does this model prepare students for the real world and ultimately support them in becoming life-long learners? I would suggest not. After all, when have you ever gone somewhere where everyone is using the same device to create, share, connect and learn? The world is not monotone and we therefore must prepare our students for this clear fact by using a range of devices.

I myself use a MacBook Pro for the majority of my work related tasks, however, sometimes I use a Windows device and I regularly use my SmartPhone which until recently was not an iPhone. My point is, I need to be able to use more than one device on a regular basis, I need to be competent on multiple platforms, operating systems and interfaces. If I need to be able to do this, what will our students need to do? Surely we need to prepare them to be more versatile and adaptive than I will ever be!

With the above in mind, I am currently thinking (and these are thoughts so they are likely to change and develop), that in order for our students to truly succeed, 1:1 provision is not enough. It is becoming my strong held belief that schools should be looking to build systems and most importantly cultures that support B.Y.O.Ds (Bring-Your-Own-Device(s). If a student owns 3 devices (say a SmartPhone, Tablet and Hand-Held Games Console), let them use all three to support their learning whatever their age. Why not? Applying this model would not necessarily mean pupils bringing three or four devices to school everyday (although many of them already do) but instead would serve to highlight how all platforms have their value and can support learning.


Image - Ian Gavan / Getty Images