one-to-one computing

Should you aim for one-to-one computing?

Saturday, June 4th, 2011 | Computer Usage, education | Comments Off

One-to-one computing – one computer for every learner in the classroom – is the dream of many teachers.  Just imagine what we will be able to do if every learner has a computing device in their hands!

But is this feasible?  Consider the following points when you consider pursuing the goal of one-to-one computing in your school.

Before chasing ubiquitous computing in a school, ensure that existing ICT resources are used optimally. 

One-to-one computing (one computer per child) is an impossible dream for poor schools in Africa – it’s just not sustainable.

Schools must aim for one-to-one computing for teachers before they pursue one-to-one computing for learners.

One-to-one computing can only be as effective as the teachers who are taking the lead in classrooms.

When a school moves towards one-to-one computing, security of equipment becomes a serious issue.

These thoughs were tweeted by @e4africa with the tag #ictschooltip.

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What is the down-side of one to one computing in the classroom?

Monday, November 1st, 2010 | Computer Usage | 3 Comments

Attractive as one to one computing in the classroom may appear to you, don’t be fooled into thinking that there are no pitfalls.  Let’s think about a few of them:

The greatest barrier to one to one computing in schools is the high cost.  Most schools can hardly afford to establish and maintain a single computer room, let alone providing a computer for each learner.

Security is another problem.  The value of one to one computing is seen in the fact that learners can take their computing devices with them so that they may work outside of school – in the mall, with their friends and at their homes.  This poses a security risk.  Parents must be involved – in some communities it is a challenge to convince parents to share the responsibility for the equipment carried by their children.

A critical factor for the success of one to one computing is teacher training.  When you give each child a computer, you assume that they will quickly learn how to use them.  In general, this happens; but it does not necessarily hold true for the teacher.  The teaching style of teachers has to change, and this is not as easy as you may think!

Class discipline in a one to one environment is sometimes a challenge.  A teacher who is used to learners sitting at desks, all facing the teacher, discovers that the attention of learners is now directed towards the computers in front of them.  How can you make sure that they focus on learning material, rather than playing games, sending text messages to each other, engaging in social network activities or aimlessly surfing the web?

The greatest danger of one to one computing is that too much emphasis is placed on the technology, at the expense of education.  A computer can be a valuable teaching and learning tool, but it is just that: a tool.  When each learner has access to a computer all the time, you need a sound understanding of how to use this tool for its intended purpose, so that the technology tail does not wag the education dog in the classroom.

Cell phones are becoming as powerful as computers, and since mobile technology is approaching saturation point among children in some schools, one to one computing may be realized sooner than you think.  With this looming possibility, wise teachers are coming to grips with technology now in preparation for the realities of an uber-connected world.

For more technology tips for teachers click here.

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What are the advantages of one-to-one computing in the classroom?

Sunday, October 31st, 2010 | Computer Usage | 4 Comments

It is not easy to prove that one to one computing increases learner achievement.  Much of the research pointing to positive results has been conducted by computer manufacturers – nay-sayers claim that these studies are biased.

Teachers who have experienced positive outcomes offer anecdotal evidence of an improved classroom experience when each child is given a computing device.  Let’s look at a few examples:

In schools troubled by absenteeism and disinterested learners, a present and engaged learner is the type of learner to have.  Many teachers report that one to one computing grabs the interest of learners, leading to improved class attendance and involvement.

Unexpected teaching moments arise when a learner asks an intriguing question, or something eventful happens in the world around us.  When each learner in the class has access to a computer, as well as the internet, a teacher can lead the class in the search for information sources, investigate the facts and help learners to reach conclusions.  In the process learners learn the valuable skill of finding and evaluating information.

Learners with a restricted world view are helped to expand the borders of their experience.  They can observe world news on the other side of the globe as it happens; they can also discover the wonders of faraway places and ancient worlds.

When learners engage with written material and interact with it, their ability to read and write must improve.  One to one computing does not only have a beneficial impact on basic literacy – being able to read and write – but also on the new literacies demanded by the twenty-first century.  Since much of the material learners access is in the form of images, they will develop visual literacy and media literacy skills; and since they’re using computers on a daily basis you can imagine what one to one computing will do for their digital literacy skills!

With one to one computing, never will a child be able to say: “The dog ate my homework.”

None of these positive results happens by itself – the success of one to one computing depends on the ability of the teacher to harness ubiquitous technology as a tool for teaching and learning.

For more technology tips for teachers click here.

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What is one to one computing?

Saturday, October 30th, 2010 | Computer Usage | 9 Comments

In the field of education, one to one computing means that every learner and teacher has access to a computer at all times – one computer, available to one person.  The computer could be a personal computer (PC), but is more often a laptop, a netbook, or a handheld computing device.  It is also assumed that each person has access to a printer and the internet.

A one to one computing classroom situation is different from that of a computer room visited by learners on a rotational basis.  In the latter case learners have limited access to technology and can engage with it only at fixed times.  The whole idea behind one to one computing is that learners can use the computer anytime, anywhere.

Computer manufacturers are the main promoters of one to one computing.  It is a no-brainer: if every learner were to be given a computer, sales will sky-rocket. 

School management and parent bodies may also support the concept in the belief that a computer in the hands of a child at all times leads to superior education.  It is for this reason that they are willing to invest large sums of money to make this possible.

Education authorities in the developing world must yet be convinced that one to one computing yields a substantial return on the investment.  In most cases they will only support a one to one initiative if the equipment is funded by parents or other donors.

One of the disadvantages of a computer room is that learner entry is limited – this makes it unlikely for learners to develop the level of computer proficiency required by most careers.  One to one computing allows learners to work with computers all the time, leading to sound digital skills and confidence in the use of technology.

It is difficult to justify one to one computing in poor countries where millions of learners have no access to technology at all.  Don’t fret if your learners do not have this level of exposure to computers – do what you can with what is available.

For more technology tips for teachers click here.

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Is a one-to-one computing programme not better than an interactive whiteboard?

Thursday, February 4th, 2010 | IWBs | Comments Off

One-to-one computing in education refers to a situation where the teacher and every child have a computing tool for use in the classroom – this could be a laptop, netbook or a handheld computing device.

The value of continuous access by learners is clear.  When technology is brought into the classroom – as opposed to taking learners to a computer room – and its use is closely intertwined with teaching activities, you move one step closer to an interactive classroom.

But can you afford it?

Only a few schools benefit from one-to-one computing.  It is limited to affluent schools, or the few fortunate schools, who are the beneficiaries of generous donors.  With limited options for other schools, how can you bring technology into your classroom?

If you have ten children in your family it would be desirable to give each child his or her own bedroom.  But this is seldom possible.  So you make the available room or rooms as comfortable as possible and let the children share.

The same principle can be used in the classroom.  Let the learners share resources.  One of the easiest and most affordable ways to do this is to bring one computer into the classroom – but to make it accessible to all, link the computer to an interactive whiteboard.  With one computer you can infuse technology into the class; the interactive whiteboard allows all learners to interact with it.

The price of computing power is plummeting.  We hope that in the not too distant future every child will be given a cell phone as powerful as a present-day netbook.  Then one-to-one computing will be within the reach of all schools.

In the interim, your interactive whiteboard can help you and your learners to bring technology into the learning experience.

One-to-one computing and interactive whiteboards – the one is not better than the other.  They are different manifestations of the same thing: interactive classrooms.

Click here for more information about interactive whiteboards.

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