T.H.E. Journal FocusT.H.E. Journal Focus

October 26, 2010

Two Approaches to 1-to-1

Determining the right approach for a successful one-to-one program implementation is a tough decision for any CIO.  The process Educational Technology Director Keith Schaeper employed in introducing a tablet PC program at Seton High School, an all-girls Catholic high school in Cincinnati, relied on a strong yet supportive model.  In fact, Schaeper insisted that teachers acclimate themselves to the technology by using it for some activity every day.

Schaeper’s approach is in contrast to the steps taken at another private school, this one in Washington, D.C. Beauvoir, the National Cathedral Elementary School, serves pre-K through third grade. Director of Technology Matthew Castanera-Bartoszek, introduced a one-to-one program to students in the 2009 – 2010 school year. But there, as he describes it, the culture of the school is "very gentle [and] nothing is mandated or pushed at all."

At Seton, the leaders of the school wanted to better meet the needs of 21st century students, and felt technology was the appropriate vehicle for accomplishing that goal. The president provided the vision: "To change the environment in the classroom," Schaeper recalls. "To get us … to a more participatory type of classroom."

Six hours of training directed at teacher use led to a slow start, Schaeper admits. "For the first month or two what I typically witnessed was teachers taking what they'd always done and putting it up electronically.”  But soon after he ramped up expectations for the program. "I was asking [teachers] to use it every day in class," he says. He began twice-monthly professional development sessions focused on integrating lessons with technology.

As the year progressed, so did the faculty members’ comfort level with using their devices. Eventually, Schaeper facilitated sessions that placed the teachers into the role of students, affording them an opportunity to experience the technology’s curricular possibilities firsthand.

Schaeper estimates that he spent half of his time during that first year just wandering the hallway. "I'd poke my head in a classroom and watch what they were doing." Later, he'd send a note or talk with the instructor: "I saw you do this. Maybe we could try it this way."

Results have been what you might expect: a much more participatory approach to instruction. "We still have lecturing going on," Schaeper says, "but the teachers are more actively engaging students in the class and students are engaging with students more." The teaching changes have a physical manifestation too. "Some teachers have totally rearranged classroom furniture due to this."

The primary goal of changing instruction truly is being accomplished.

According to Beauvior’s Castanera-Bartoszek, although the 380-student school has been using tablet computers for many years, only recently did it try out a one-to-one program, focusing that effort on the third grade.

The impetus for the program was to get technology fully integrated into the classroom, and they soon realized that would require breaking apart computer labs, eliminating a scheduled computer lesson and allowing the tech teachers to help prepare and co-teach lessons with the regular classroom instructors. "The more we did that,” he observes, "the more we gave ownership of technology back to the teacher in the classroom."

Beauvoir's approach to professional development is different from Seton’s.  They discovered a number of approaches that would not work for them, including group teaching. "When we bring everybody in a room together and say, 'OK, we're going to teach you how to do this,' it doesn't work," explains Castanera-Bartoszek. "Some people already know how to do something; for others, it's way over their heads."

However, the school does provide one-on-one instruction to teachers from the former dedicated tech teachers who ran the computer lab.  Their schedule has been revised to ensure sufficient time to individualize professional development and help each classroom teacher achieve his or her specific goals.

As a result, students became both responsible "digital citizens" and proficient enough with laptop features and software to teach the teachers.  According to one teacher, some students are now able to “train peers to use certain programs or websites to help them with their work."

Knowing your faculty and the culture in your school is a key factor in implementing a one-to-one program successfully.  Some faculty are open to learning from students, some will work in large groups and some prefer individual help.  Find out what they need and tailor your approach appropriately.

Learn more on THE Journal's Two Approaches to 1-to-1 page.

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