Nevada is Leading the Way: Nevada’s Going 1-to-1

Point 1: 1-to-1. It’s a term almost as tired as Web 2.0. But the old, tired 1-to-1 is not the true 1-to-1, not the all-time-access, home and school, 1-to-1. The tired 1-to-1 is the use of a cart of computers or a lab of computers that, for a moment in time, gives students 1-to-1. But occasional access is not the same as all-the-time access. Indeed, we believe — and, we aim to demonstrate in this blog series — that all-the-time, 1-to-1, access is qualitatively different than occasional, 1-to-1, access. All-the-time, 1-to-1 is not just more access but a different kind of access!

Point 2: But even with all-the-time, 1-to-1 access, without appropriate 1-to-1 curriculum, without appropriate professional development for the teachers, without appropriate infrastructure, and without appropriate school leadership, the opportunities for a qualitative change in teaching and learning that all-the-time, 1-to-1 access affords will not be realized.

With the above two points as a basis, let’s move on to a major current event — and its historical roots.

In 2002, Maine, under Governor Angus King signed a bill that put a laptop in the hands of each and every 7th and 8th grade student in Maine. And, over the years Maine’s 1-to-1 program has spread to other grades.

Just recently (Sept, 2017) Nevada’s Governor Brian Sandoval signed the Ready21 Bill that will put a Chromebook in the hands of each and every student in Nevada’s schools.  Note carefully, the Chromebooks are to be used by the students at school and also at home!

In between 2002 and 2017 — 15 long years — a few other states, e.g., Michigan, Hawaii, Vermont, started up 1-to-1 initiatives, but they have fallen away. It has been expensive to buy computers for all the students in a state! Oh, and don’t forget about bolstering the infrastructure and the professional development — and provide 1-to-1 ready curriculum — to support the 1-to-1 devices. But, folks did forget about those other necessary — and expensive — ingredients, as Therese Mageau, in her now classic "Stop Buying iPads, Please" article observed.

Now, with "concerns that instructional practices haven't caught up to the technology's abilities,..." the Maine program has received mixed reviews in terms of its impact on students. Indeed, the current Governor of Maine, Paul LePage, considered killing Maine’s 1-to-1 program entirely, calling it a "massive failure" — but fortunately he was persuaded to not take such a drastic step. He did comment:

  • "'We don’t provide the expertise to teach the kids how to use it properly and our teachers aren’t properly trained in it.... We should have been doing that 15 years ago,' he said, in another of his many recent digs at King, who made the program a centerpiece of his legacy as governor."

Now, now. Hindsight is always 20-20. In 2002, then Governor King — and now Senator King (Maine) — led Maine in a bold, visionary adventure.

And, in the ensuing 15 years it is an understatement to say that our community has learned a great deal about computers in education in general and about 1-to-1 in particular:

  • Through its three-year study of 17 districts, Project RED and the One-to-One Institute have identified a number of factors that need to be present if 1-to-1 is going to be successful.
  • Zheng and her colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of 1-to-1 controlled, scientific studies and found that 1-to-1 can lead to increased student achievement — under specific conditions. (Surprise, surprise: The conditions noted by Zheng are essentially the same conditions identified by the survey techniques of Project RED.)
  • Nevada has successfully piloted 1-to-1 with 19,000 students — albeit "an incredibly modest number." Nonetheless, Nevada has learned from the pilot and from what has gone on before and is not just buying devices:
    • "... Along with the Chromebooks, every school also received a software toolkit to support digital instruction, [a] learning management system ... [and] professional development for teachers, and school and district-level technical and instructional support ... [and] the installation of WiFi access points to give schools building-wide connectivity."

But, think back to 2002 ... yes, it is hard.

  • That’s five years before the iPhone (2007).
  • That’s Microsoft Windows XP and Office XP. XP?
  • That’s when Netflix was sending DVDs through the mail.
  • That’s three years before Amazon Prime.

In those 15 years, a whole heck of lot has changed in our personal lives and in the functioning of virtually every corporation in the developed world! And in schools? Not so much.

But fasten your seat belts; 1-to-1 is about to take off. Today, according to the consultancy Futuresource, 50 percent of American schools are 1-to-1.

  • Easy Prediction: It is not going to take 15 more years to get the other 50 percentof classrooms to 1-to-1.

With the cost of a serious computing device hovering at the price of a pair of sneakers, affordability of a computing device is finally at hand. Of course, of course: curriculum, professional development, infrastructure, leadership, etc. are needed — and those items do still cost. And yes, schools need to move from 1-to-1 technology initiatives (as Mageau counseled) to 1-to-1 pedagogy initiatives.  

Maybe it’s just that techies tend to be optimistic, to see the glass as half-full, not half-empty. But the large number of STEAM/STEM initiatives, the coding initiatives, the initiatives that seek to better address the standards, etc. — all of which require computing technologies — are indications that schools are seeing that computing technology is the pencil-and-paper of today’s generations, that being fluent in computing technology is a necessary skill that children need in order to compete in the hi-tech, global marketplace. 1-to-1 pedagogical initiatives are about to take off — you can take that prediction to the bank! 

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