The Dream of 1:1

I have spent the last several years in a large district helping to implement new technology and providing staff development while teaching science. I switched districts this year and am currently teaching middle school science in a small north Texas school district which encompasses a large amount of land, most of which is only currently be developed, in a mid to high socioeconomic community.  We have 4 elementary schools (K-4) with a fifth planned for 2015, 2 middle schools (one for 5-6th graders and one for 7-8th graders), and one high school. Although we are busting at the seams and getting larger every day, our tax base will not support new schools just yet. This creates unique challenges both for space and technology integration.

My District At A Glance


Each campus has at least one classroom set of iPads, laptops carts and computer labs that teachers can sign up to use. All of the seventh and eighth graders in our district attend my middle school campus. We have approximately 950 students which would put our iPad ratio at about 30:1 and our desktop/laptop ratio at approximately 10:1. The district is slowly integrating new technologies, some campus wide while others are classroom based. The high school students received Google Education accounts in January while two fifth/sixth grade teachers are piloting a 1:1 initiative with Chromebooks. These students also received Google Education accounts.

If our district were able to go 1:1 with any device, I would suggest the Chromebook. While the iPad is a great product that I use in my classroom often, it has its limitations including the price and accessibility. Updating and buying apps can become a problem as well as reinstalling them when students delete them. This type of request has to go through the technology department, which takes time. Students also dislike not having a keyboard and word processor that exports and/or saves easily. The inability to use Flash has also been a problem.

I also looked at the difference between laptops running Windows and the Chromebook. In my previous district, I flipped my classroom and had a laptop cart almost exclusively for my students. I used Google accounts with my students for collaboration, presentations, word processing, etc. The big plus of Chromebooks versus laptops is the cost. Since we will be implementing the Google accounts on a wider scale, the reduced cost of the Chromebook would make it possible to provide a classroom set to more teachers.

It would be best to implement the same device for all subject/grade level areas. Implementing one type of device makes providing professional development and teacher/technology support more accessible. Teachers can create a support network for questions and ideas as well as problem solve any issues that may arise.

Since my district is small and the budget even smaller, I would not choose one campus for the 1:1 implementation. Identify teachers on each campus from different grade levels and subject areas that are familiar with Google Drive and Chromebooks or teachers with technology experience who are willing to attend professional development sessions. Find districts in our area that have implemented 1:1 programs and have teachers and administrators visit these schools/districts to learn more about their successes and challenges. Examples would include Irving ISD and Grand Prairie ISD.

Provide staff development for the teachers on how to use the Chromebook and the different features of Google Education accounts before implementing them with students in the classroom. Discuss and create goals for the school year and how you will measure the progress of each classroom towards these goals. Schedule online or in person meeting times to discuss problems and solutions that may arise throughout the school and provide support for the teachers. Educate parents and students to the goals of the 1:1 initiative and the rationale behind it. Teachers should submit lesson plans and samples of students work/projects throughout the year for documentation and sharing purposes. Use data to determine which subjects/grade levels would most benefit to determine how to continue the implementation.

The 1:1 implementation will create personalized learning environments, promote collaboration, increase engagement, as well as provide real world problem solving opportunities and ownership of learning. By providing documentation such as data, lesson plans and work samples, the pilot program can be implemented in more classrooms each year.

Too many 1:1 implementations are about the device they are using, not the learning that is taking place. Alan November makes this point in the article, Why Schools Must Move Beyond One-to-One Computing, “Adding a digital device to the classroom without a fundamental change in the culture of teaching and learning will not lead to significant improvement. Unless clear goals across the curriculum—such as the use of math to solve real problems—are articulated at the outset, one-to-one computing becomes “spray and pray.” Other challenges include finding time to train teachers and our district’s bandwidth will definitely be put to the test with this number of new devices.

South Bay Middle School Chromebook Project
Although this middle school is extremely small with only 80 students, it is a great example of how to start small. The 1:1 initiative can then be implemented on a larger scale after the success of the program has been proven and potential challenges worked out.

1:1 Pilot Proposal  Sudbury Public schools in MA implemented a 1:1 initiative with their sixth grade students. Check out their proposal and the research including the cost comparison chart shown below for the 2013-14 implementation.


Leyden CHSD 212 – 1:1 With Chromebooks
After listening to Jason Markey discuss their 1:1 implementation in this week’s EDIM 516 video, I wanted to take a closer look at their procedures. I really enjoyed the detail of this document and it shows how you would alter the Acceptable Use Policy for those with the devices.

What is your dream 1:1 plan look like?   Does the type of device make a difference or will any device do?

8 thoughts on “The Dream of 1:1

Add yours

  1. Great post! I can see your point about choosing a Chromebook or other device over the iPad is probably a good idea. You make a good point about how we turn to the iPad but it may not be the best choice. My dream really revolves around a combitation of BYOD and using devices that the school owns. I would like to see every student in my classroom with a pencil, important materials for class, and a technological device that has the capabitily to allow them to research, particpate electronically and collaborate at their fingertips. I really think that any device will do as long as it has the capability to be linked to the network and the students knows how to use it. I can appreciate the challenges that you bring up. Without having a purpose for the technology it is just a distraction. It is important that technology implementation is purpose drvien. I find that in my classroom when we initially started to use laptops it was a big deal, it actually became a distraction. Today it is common place for students to grab a laptop and be engaged in class without missing a beat of our routine. That shows that we are ready for a 1:1 classroom but we need to work out the details. I found this article which seems to put the whole topic into perspective.
    Thanks for the informative post,

  2. Tim,
    Thanks for posting the link to the Edutopia article. I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately my 1:1 plan won’t become a reality anytime soon in my district so I am also going to rely on our BYOD policy to incorporate technology in meaningful ways more often. Our BYOD policy is not widely utilized and doesn’t have enough structure for my piece of mind so I will be spending the summer adding in more details for appropriate use and ways it will be used in my classroom. I want to hit the ground running from the first day next year so students know how, why and when to use their devices in my class and so that parents also feel knowledgeable about what we are trying to accomplish with the devices. I try to help my students (and parents) understand that in my classroom, technology is a tool, not the focus.

  3. Chromebooks are a great choice for a 1:1 initiative for all the reasons that you listed in your post. I would like to offer a few more reasons. As a current GAFE school, we have been using the admin panel of GAFE to manage our student accounts. We place students into organizations based on YOG (year of graduation) and decide which Google products are allowed in that organization. Gmail and blogger for example are reserved for older students while all students have access to Google docs.

    For an additional $32 added to the purchase price of the chromebook, you can use your Google admin panel to manage these devices. This allows you to select an extension such as diigo and populate it to each student without ever touching the device. The time savings to the technology department is staggering.

    Many parents don’t have filtering on their home network. This presents a liability concern when students take home district devices. Who is responsible for this? It’s a sticky widget at times. The chrome management panel allows a school to have the device use a proxy situation (not sure of the specific lingo) where the Internet content available to that user on their home connection has to first go through our network filter thereby keeping us CIPA compliant.

    Also, we can control who uses the chromebook at home by making it so that it only allows someone with our credentials to log in. Now of course the student could log in and let a brother, sister or parent then use it but that is not usually the issue. Usually the issue is that the student doesn’t want the brother using it but has not control. The chrome admin console gives us that control.

    Finally, I attended a webinar last Oct. 2013 about 1:1 chromebooks and one of the presenters was from Leyden School, which you mentioned in your post. The presenter gave an interesting answer to implementation. He said he didn’t favor full roll out or roll out by grade level. He thought it should be done course by course. He explained that if the biology teacher wants access for every class period, he would make that happen with his initiative. Then the teacher could count on access for each class period when biology is taught. This makes the most sense. Sometimes even with two biology teachers only one is ready to use 1:1 technology. Why not have the use for those who are ready? The other teachers see the success and get on board. This makes for a more sensible deployment. This is a link to the handout for that webinar ( The audio can be found here if you create a free account first:

    1. Laurie,
      Thanks for the information and resources. I completely agree with the speaker from your webinar. Not all teachers are ready for a 1:1 program. Some teachers need to take it in steps and see it being utilized before being willing to try it out themselves. Then there are those of us that are comfortable and willing to try things for the first time and work out the problems that may arise. That is where my district is right now. There are a few teachers at each campus that implement technology in their classrooms and are very comfortable with using and trying new things. This is the reason I suggested having teachers volunteer for a 1:1 implementation. You need teachers that are willing to take the extra time for training, planning and problem solving with the technology.

  4. Michelle, interesting to hear you have somewhat of a BYOD policy but don’t see it gaining traction. Do you think the unifying of a specific device makes PD an easier sell? Is PD also easier because the focus of it can become on the device rather than the pedagogy? Interested in your perspectives on this.

    1. Dean,
      The BYOD policy was implemented in my district during the 2012-13 school year at the middle schools and high school. The district BYOD policy is a short paragraph added to our AUP which states that students may use their devices with teacher permission and the school district is not liable for lost or stolen devices. I just finished the EDIM BYOD class and am working with my library media specialist to help interested teachers learn how to set up the BYOD policy in their classrooms including ways to monitor and engage students with content.

      Do you think the unifying of a specific device makes PD an easier sell? I really think the answer to this question depends on the district. My previous district had different types of devices implemented at different grade/subject area levels. Professional development was offered throughout the year on all types of technology with special sessions set up throughout the summer as well. My current district is much smaller and professional development opportunities are limited and provided after school. For these reasons, trying to implement and train teachers on multiple devices would be more difficult. Teachers need to learn that implementing a new device is more than just knowing how to use the device. Teachers need to understand how to use it in their classroom effectively. The lesson objective should always be the focus of learning, not the technology tool you are using to enhance the objective.

      Is PD also easier because the focus of it can become on the device rather than the pedagogy? It is important in any technology training to provide information about the specific device(s) but also to provide attendees an opportunity to learn new ways to use that device with their students. I conducted most of the Smartboard trainings in my previous district and always included ways to use the actual device and ideas for implementation in the classroom. I made sure all attendees knew that technology implementation needed to be embedded in content. The lesson could not be about the technology itself, it needed to be about the content of the lesson and the technology needed to help enhance the content. In a 1:1 implementation, it is important to train the teachers how to use the actual device(s) but you must also teach them different ways to use it in their classrooms to help students learn.

  5. Hi Michelle – great post, thanks for sharing! It’s nice you had experience to pull from, especially in the areas of planning and staff development. As with any new technology I find getting older staff interested in newer tools can take an inordinate amount of effort and have therefore started to budget more one-on-one time to educate the technology laggards prior to rollout. I was also amazed that your school somehow actually makes a 30:1 ratio work – it just doesn’t seem possible if only from a scheduling point of view. That aspect alone would make a great YouTube video! As for flash video support, I was an early adopter of the iPad technology and spent the first few years extremely frustrated without Flash, however over time I was able to qualify a series of core apps that provided functional alternatives to my legacy Flash enabled favorites. Thanks for a great post!

    1. Kim,
      Thanks for your reply. Honestly what makes the iPad ratio work is that there are only about 4 of us that check it out on a regular basis. The most common reason teachers in my school give when asked why they don’t use the iPads or the BYOD policy more is the amount of work it takes to plan for and monitor their use. This week my science classes will be using the iPads to virtually dissect a frog (Froguts app) for our body systems unit and use an app (Explore Learning Gizmos) to investigate homeostasis in living organisms. What kinds of things do your students do with the iPads?

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