How will 1-to-1 computing classrooms impact Michigan schools?

Across the nation, many classrooms, schools, and districts are going 1:1. Though a 1:1 program might look different from place to place, they all have at least one thing in common: every student gets their own computing device. In some cases, students receive a laptop computer while others get tablets. Regardless of the device issued to students, 1:1 programs are a substantial undertaking and require thoughtful consideration before moving forward into them, the foremost of which is whether the technology is intended to support or supplant great instruction.

In Michigan, a long-time push from Governor Snyder toward more online education (supported by a report from the pro-business Mackinac Center on online learning) along with the statewide move to expand online assessment associated with the Common Core State Standards, Technology Readiness Infrastructure Grant (TRIG) money, and the inclusion of digital learning in the revised School Improvement Framework, has inspired many schools across the state to look to 1:1 computing environments for their students.

Whether fully-online courses or blended learning (a hybrid between online and face-to-face education) is adopted in a 1:1 environment, there are several major considerations schools must first explore before implementation.

Among the considerations are shifts in teaching and learning, interim assessments, 21st century learning, and, of course, cost. Of these, cost is typically the area of consideration most widely scrutinized during the development and implementation process of a 1:1 program. This is for very good reason. Devices are not free, and depending on how a 1:1 program is designed, the cost can vary, as is evident from these six examples. However, while cost is a large factor in designing a good 1:1 program, so is the projection of impact on student achievement, engagement, graduation rates, and school improvement.

Although laptops and desktop computers have been integrated into 1:1 computing environments for over a decade now, tablet 1:1 programs are relatively new. Thus, relatively little longitudinal data exist to document the impact of modern 1:1 programs on teaching and learning. That being said, the Michigan Department of Education is currently working toward a statewide pilot program that will collect data from a large enough sample to provide reliable data on 1:1 programs in schools. Until then, Michiganders can only look to other places that have documented their 1:1 programs for insight.

For any school or district interested in a 1:1 program, you might first consider piloting 1:1 in a few classrooms at the elementary, middle, and high school levels to gather some preliminary information about how it will fit your educational needs. Another option to consider before going 1:1 is to try a Bring Your Own Device pilot and study how students and teachers using computing devices will support teaching and learning.

To provide a set of resources related to research on 1:1 computing programs in schools, I solicited the help of educator Dan Quinn of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice. Dan gave me some great resources to begin assembling some data on 1:1 programs in schools. From there, I perused other available studies from around the country. Below are several studies and articles related to 1:1 computing and the impact on student achievement in schools. This list is not exhaustive, but it can serve as a starting point for investigating some available research on 1:1 programs.

Here’s the bottom line: educators, parents and community members should all have a sense of what’s involved if their school or district is moving toward a 1:1 program, and that includes knowing the available research on the topic related to student achievement.


Educational Outcomes and Research from 1:1 Computing Settings
Damian Bebell, Laura O’Dwyer

Key Takeaways:
Despite the growing interest in 1:1 computing initiatives, relatively little empirical research has focused on the outcomes of these investments. The current special edition of the Journal of Technology and Assessment presents four empirical studies of K–12 1:1 computing programs and one review of key themes in the conversation about 1:1 computing among advocates and critics. In this introduction to our 1:1 special edition, we synthesize across the studies and discuss the emergent themes. Looking specifically across these studies, we summarize evidence that participation in the 1:1 programs was associated with increased student and teacher technology use, increased student engagement and interest level, and modest increases in student achievement.

Large-Scale 1:1 Computing Initiatives: An Open Access Database
Jayson W. Richardson, University of Kentucky; Scott Mcleod, University of Kentucky; Kevin Flora, University of Kentucky; Nick Sauers, University of Kentucky; Sathiamoorthy Kannan, University of Malaya; and Mehmet Sincar, University of Gaziantep

Key Takeaways:
This article details the spread and scope of large-scale 1:1 computing initiatives around the world. What follows is a review of the existing literature around 1:1 programs followed by a description of the large-scale 1:1 database. Main findings include:

  1. The XO and the Classmate PC dominate large-scale 1:1 initiatives
  2. If professional development was conducted within a 1:1 initiatives, it was done at the onset of the project by venders of the hardware
  3. Funding for 1:1 initiatives appears to be provided initially but not as a reoccurring expense.

Why Schools Must Move Beyond One-to-One Computing
Alan November

Key Takeaways:
Adding a digital device to the classroom without a fundamental change in the culture of teaching and learning will not lead to significant improvement. Unless clear goals across the curriculum — such as the use of math to solve real problems — are articulated at the outset, one-to-one computing becomes “spray and pray.”

Results & Lessons Learned from 1:1 Laptop Initiatives: A Collective Review
Lori B. Holcomb

Key Takeaways:
Over the last ten years, the emergence of 1:1 programs has grown increasingly in popularity. More and more schools are implementing 1:1 programs as a means for increasing student achievement and performance. In fact, few modern educational initiatives have been as widespread and costly as the integration of laptop initiatives into education. As a result, a new vision in education has emerged as more and more schools across the country are now providing their teachers and students with laptops. In a 2006 eSchool News report, it was estimated that by 2007 nearly 25% of school districts in the United States would implement some form of a 1:1 computing. Currently, 1:1 initiatives exist in a wide variety of settings in Georgia, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota. The impact of 1:1 learning on student measures and outcomes has been examined and studied from several different angles, from looking at absentee rates, interest and motivation, and achievement scores. This article highlights research findings relating to student and teacher outcomes and 1:1 laptop initiatives and presents lessons learned from 1:1 initiatives.

Project RED: A Synthesis of Achievement and Engagement Data with iOS devices

Key Takeaways:
Methodology consisted of:

  • 997 schools, representative of 49 states and the District of Columbia
  • 11 diverse success measures
  • 22 categories of independent variables in the study

Key findings included:

  • 1:1 schools employing key implementation factors outperform all schools.
  • Technology-transformed intervention improves learning.
  • Online collaboration increases learning productivity

A Small Collection of Studies of iPad Use in Education
Richard Byrne

Key Takeaways:
There are a variety of reports of iPad use in classrooms that focus on engagement levels and anecdotal evidence. However, there is also some more substantial writing on the topic that includes research reports with useful data.

Study shows iPads increase student engagement and achievement
Jayme Gillen

Key Takeaways:
A school district in Lakeville, Minnesota integrated iPads into 32 classroom environments. The results show 23 classes increased student achievement, 24 classes increased student motivation, and 20 classrooms showed a gain in student learning.

[Public domain image credit: U.S. Census Bureau | Wikimedia Commons]

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