Five Reasons Your One to One Program is Failing

1) You haven’t had an honest conversation about adult control; If you think about it, the phrase “one to one” democratizes teaching and learning by putting the teacher and student on equal footing, doesn’t it? Have you been fact-checked during class?. One time I actually said that Wikipedia was lying after my point about the Battle of Bull Run was challenged. (It was a bad day). The adults need time to come together and talk about how this revolution is impacting the culture of their classes and how they will redefine what control means. This is not easy but it is a very important conversation and one that will bring out much angst.

2) You built the spaceship but can’t find a pilot: So many schools have done this: Spent millions ‘kitting’ out their classes with the latest and greatest without the integration framework in place. (I am NOT talking about IT systems, this is an education point). If you can’t define HOW Google Docs will improve literacy for each child then you should turn off the I-Pads and go back to the note pads.

3) No one knows what “one to one” means: I bet if you ask a number of people in your school, many will give different answers. The obvious is that it’s one student per one device. But is it? What about the other relationships? Teacher to student? Student to student? Device to device? All of the above? This lack of vision is critical. I have a feeling in a lot of places it means that the students have a device that has to be in sync with the adult’s device at all times, which to me sounds a lot like…school.

4) It’s a culture shift, not an add-on: One to one is not like painting the house a different color; it is breaking down walls and throwing out the furniture. It is the biggest investment your school has made since you built a new primary school. It’s not doing what we’ve always done but with a distracting internet connection. You must have the hard conversations about what this means. We invited students to talk to the staff about how confused they were about having to use Edmodo and then Google Sites and teacher’s home web pages, all in different classes. They basically told us to focus and get our acts together on what we wanted this program to be. (“And a little child will lead them”…Isaiah 65).

5) What’s the product? Web 2.0 blew the doors off the information age. We shifted from consuming content to creating it with the ability to share it with millions. Wow. So, how are you harnessing this power? The democratization of content sharing means that your students actually have the ability to engage with the world and get feedback (most commonly in the form of ‘likes.’) So, why aren’t they? If your product still consists of students giving PowerPoint screencasts of the Napoleonic Era then YOU FAIL!!

And in keeping with tradition of the 80s video, I could only come up with this really weird Eddy Grant one (talk about creating bad content) and still wonder how Electric Avenue ever became a hit.

About Stephen Dexter, Jr.

Stephen is an international educator and administrator. A native of the United States, he lives with his wife Stephanie and children Zoe and Ian in the Singapore. With a career that spans over twenty years in public, private and international schools, he writes when he can and is on a quest to discover if "text walking" is changing the human brain.
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One Response to Five Reasons Your One to One Program is Failing

  1. I would like to humbly suggest that there is a sixth reason for a one-to-one program failing and that is: you have not involved your librarian! I see far too many schools who do not encourage an equal collaboration between the tech department and the library and thus miss out on a natural connection and another person who can support implement and support one-to-one integration.

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