1:1 Computing in High Schools

Many high schools are moving towards a 1:1 environment, where there is one electronic device per student in the school. This can be a very positive change for many schools.
Perhaps you've heard of 1:1 (spoken as "one to one") computing, or maybe your high school is looking to make the move to a 1:1 environment. While the changes can be scary and difficult at first, eventually, it will not only run smoothly, but each student will graduate high school with essential technological literacy for their post-high school lives.

What is 1:1?

1:1 computing is, quite simply, an environment in which every student and teacher has an electronic device to use for learning. Ideally, these devices are ones that can be taken home to make learning possible outside the walls of the school. The device that is chosen depends on the school and the learning environment. Electronic devices used in a 1:1 setting could be laptop computers, netbooks, tablets, e-readers, or any other device that is appropriate for educational uses. When a school chooses a device, they will look at the student population and where they have access to technology outside the school, as well as what features each device has and how those features match up with the needs of the students. If the majority of students at a school don't have access to computers. For example, the administration might choose laptops or netbooks as an option to give the students the ability to research, access email, and type papers. If students do have access to computers at home, but would benefit from a tablet or e-reader while in school, those might be the devices of choice. Either way, the school will provide each student with the chosen device for the years the student is enrolled in the school. After the student graduates, sometimes they have the option to buy the device at a significantly reduced price, which is extremely convenient for students heading to college or the workforce.

How is it Useful for Students?

Having a device at one's fingertips can be invaluable to a student. High school students have so many questions, and sometimes teachers cannot answer them right away. With a device that is connected to the Internet, students have answers to their questions right at their fingertips. Having a device that can be taken home from school also fosters a community of learning by allowing students to research, write, and interact at home. They can download books, research, highlight articles, and write a paper all on one device, all outside the classroom. Of course, using an electronic device also helps teach technological literacy to students, which is a very valuable skill in today's society.

How is it Useful for Teachers?

By giving the students the means to do work at home, teachers are free to do other, more engaging things in the classroom. When a teacher takes students to a computer lab or library to type a paper or do research, that wastes valuable class time that can be used to learn and prepare more. It also allows students to be more connected to teachers outside school. Instead of spending hours answering questions in class, students can email a teacher questions about an assignment and the teacher can respond immediately. This further creates a community of learning, and fosters lifelong learning in the students.

What About Costs

Electronic devices are expensive; there is no way around that. However, e-books are much less expensive than traditional textbooks, and if students can get books on their devices, that could eliminate the need for any textbook fund at all. Similarly, by emailing students assignments and collecting assignments online, budgets for paper, ink, toner, and other copying and printing services become virtually unnecessary. Plus, the benefits of having the device definitely outweigh any costs that might accrue, as the students are afforded the opportunity to use technology in very useful ways.
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