Dec 2, 2009

Is One-to-One Computing the Best Solution?

Originally written December 5th, 2005

It seems as if every tech related magazine has a story about another school, district, or state pursuing a one-to-one laptop initiative. Michigan’s initiative is called “Freedom To Learn.” Computer companies like Apple and HP have put up sites dedicated to the idea. And, they’d love to sell you carts full of laptops!

While I would love to teach in a school that provided a laptop for every child, especially if it was paid for by the state, I wonder whether having one computer for each student would change my methods.

When I work with my students, there are only enough computers for one for every two children. It’s designed that way. Compared to having students work individually, I find that pair and team projects result in greater student learning of content, tech skills, and intrapersonal skills. If each student had a computer, maybe that would give me the ultimate flexibility in designing some projects to be completed individually, some concurrently, and some jointly. Or, maybe I would lose something when each student is staring at his or her own screen instead of a shared screen. Over time, would I slowly be seduced by obvious individual accountability of one student per machine/project, instead of having to work hard to hold all partners equally accountable?

What advantages or disadvantages have you experienced or might you foresee?


BalancEdTech said...

With NetBooks,Smart Phones, iPod Touches, eBook Readers, and other devices this question is even more relevant today. Combine this with the still significant cost to outfit each student with such a device and I wonder if a different ratio might not be better for now. As long as the students get significant opportunities to use any of the devices for learning we are making progress. Ubiquitous computing may cause as many problems as it solves and a thoughtful ramping up may serve us better.

BalancEdTech said...

Here's a critique to get your mind working around this topic:

The Naked Truth about 1:1 Laptop Initiatives and Educational Change

BalancEdTech said...

Related post from Dónal O'Mahony,

Returning slowly…One Device Per Group…