One-to-one (or 1:1) computing can be a game-changer for K-12 schools, but before embarking on any hardware strategy, it’s critical to understand the big picture of how devices and endpoints should be managed.
First, a brief definition: one-to-one computing refers to a system in which every student has his or her own internet-connected laptop or tablet to use 24/7. In most cases, students use these devices at school and at home to work, communicate, collaborate, and research.
Before committing to a 1:1 program, you’ll want to answer these questions:
- Are devices being used? When? How much?
- Is it consistent across the district, e.g. different students, classrooms, levels, schools?
- What decisions could the district make based on usage information?
- Are students allowed to take computers home?
- When there’s inclement weather, can you validate students are actually using the devices?
The advantages for schools that embrace a 1:1 program are numerous. The most prominent is equal access and standardization, leveling the playing field for every student regardless of their learning abilities or demographic background.
When each student has a device, engagement increases and passive learning drastically declines. Even better, lesson or class content can be delivered digitally — which encourages independent study and allows the teacher to devote more class time to students who may require additional assistance.
Collaboration is also enhanced, in which group projects can be tackled during or after class via online collaboration tools.
On the administrative side, the capability for easy device upgrades, simplified networking, and the overall ability to monitor student progress and online behavior are huge selling features.
Getting Real About the Challenges
However, 1:1 is not without its obstacles. The most obvious hurdle being costs — and it goes beyond the direct hardware costs. Schools must factor in the human resource overhead for increased student training and general computer literacy as well.
Professional development and training for the devices and their applications can take up significant time and focus.
One can also argue that too many 1:1 applications stress technology over learning and that these laptops and tablets may detract from learning. Depending on the curriculum or teacher, managing all these devices and applications may become too burdensome.
One of the major consequences of 1:1 programs is managing all of those devices, which can include provisioning devices, deploying applications, keeping them secure, managing returns at the end of the school year, and more.
Adding to the burden is when schools adopt a BYOD policy.
Why 1:1 is better than BYOD
BYOD brings about a myriad of issues that some schools probably want to avoid. Whereas a standardized device policy means the same equipment for every student, BYOD means a growing disparity that further disadvantages low-income families. Next, the rise in the number of devices being carried to and from school can endanger student safety, making them a prime target for thieves. Further, lost or stolen student devices have a major impact on learning, with no school-district management capability to track or recover these devices.
While BYOD is obviously appealing, the main issues in management, equality of learning and security are driving many districts to reconsider and adopt a 1:1 program instead.
When a school can maintain visibility and control of its devices, students are better protected. The school can be alerted of any suspicious activity so they can remotely detect and remediate at-risk devices.
Finally, to save even more on IT resources, a year-round 1:1 program can work wonders. Think about it: what happens at the end of the year when all your devices must be collected? It places an unnecessary drain on IT resources. With the support of endpoint tools, districts can perform remote device maintenance, keep track of device inventory and automatically enforce compliance with student privacy regulations such as the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) —preventing students from accessing harmful content or doing something harmful themselves (like hacking).
With these tools in place, supporting a year-round 1:1 program is more manageable. What’s more, these programs can be instrumental in supporting student’s education and the inevitable “Summer Brain Drain.” The stats don’t lie: students lose an average of two months of reading skills and 2.6 months of math skills over the summer, and teachers spend up to six weeks of fall class time re-teaching old materials to make up for this loss.
Ultimately, education is no different from other industries in that endpoints (like student tablets and laptops) must be properly managed. Remember, most successful breaches begin at the endpoint (according to an IDC study, the endpoint was the cause of 70 percent of successful breaches).
If these devices are not well-managed, attacks can quickly morph from a brushfire to a widespread blaze. Maintaining visibility and control of your endpoints is crucial.
Learn more about how Absolute is making a difference in one-to-one programs by watching our Santa Margarita Catholic High School’s One-to-one Program video.