From a teaching and learning perspective 1:1 computing makes complete sense and the positive results of this approach have been well researched and documented.
More widespread access to computers makes it possible for students and teachers in schools to transition from occasional, supplemental use of computers for instruction to more frequent, integral use of technology across a multitude of settings (Roschelle & Pea, 2002). Ubiquitous, 24/7 access to computers makes it possible for students to access a wider array of resources to support their learning, to communicate with peers and their teachers, to become fluent in their use of the technological tools of the 21st century workplace. When students are also able to take computers home, the enhanced access further facilitates students keeping their work organized and makes the computer amore “personal” device (Vahey & Crawford, 2002).
On a conceptual level our present approach to deploying technology, small pods of 3-4 computers and/or one computer classrooms put a tremendous classroom management burden on teachers and dis-empower students in a ‘many watching one’ or ‘shared pencil environment’. Computer labs empower students by allowing them to have their own devices; but access to labs is limited and generally not part of the core classroom experience.
Example of a “shared pencil” deployment.
Example of a “many watching one” deployment.
The 21st Century Skills of initiative, self-direction, flexibility, and user responsibility; skills that are fundamental to our children’s future success, are undermined by the technology deployment models described above.
We need a new technology deployment paradigm that empowers students and teachers and serves as a catalyst for transforming classrooms into environments that model the key 21st Century Skills that are so desirable in the work-place.
So why isn’t 1:1 more prevalent?
The fact of the matter is that if money were no obstacle most of us would take steps to expand our computer inventory so that access to learning technologies was ubiquitous. It is the economics of 1:1 computing that seems daunting.
We need a new paradigm to replace the client/server approach that has done well to get us where we are; but is not sufficient to bring us where we need to go.
That new paradigm is “cloud computing and virtualization”.
We need to recognize that the “shared pencil”, “many watching one” way we are deploying technology in our classrooms is not sufficient for students who need to be more “self directed”, “responsible”, “adaptable” and show more “initiative and leaderhship” .
That new paradigm is “ubiquitous access”.
The two paradigm shifts go hand in hand.
Put the tools in our students hands.