A Learning Device for Every Student? – Part I

Start with why

My school has always been a pioneer when it comes to integrating technology in the classroom. Previous school leaders envisioned that technology brings major assistance to the instructional activities of teachers and the learning process of the students. So every classroom used to have overhead projectors, we have had laptop carts, iPad devices, Android tablets, computer labs, LCD projectors and interactive whiteboards, heavy integration of an ELO. You name it, we explored its use in our classrooms.

More recently we have reached a tipping point. The learning process and student and professional life of our staff and students became more and more digital and online. We live in a connected world where we have almost 24/7 access to knowledge, peers and experts near and far. Not bringing this 21st century reality into our school would put us in a parallel universe. If we want to make sure the years a student spends in our school is worth the time and effort, we can not put ourselves in that parallel universe and we need to prepare them for the real world.

How might we achieve this?

That’s a question that has been puzzling me in the last 5 years as technology advisor and administrator.
Do we need more technology? Can we do this with the infrastructure we already have?
I do not want technology for the technology. Any device is an investment and needs constant renewing: no other environment changes at the pace IT changes.

We concluded very quickly we do need more tech in our school: in 2010 we had a computer/student ratio of about 15:1. By 2015 we lowered this to about 5:1. Getting access to a computer requires making reservations of either a whole computer lab or a number of tablets.

It’s not about the device, it’s about the learning!

If we want to create learning opportunities anywhere and anytime, we also need access to the tools that support these learning activities anywhere and anytime. Conclusion: we need to bring the 5:1 ratio down to 1:1.

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