The Road to One-to-One; It Keeps Getting Better

Nearly a decade after launching its one-to-one program, River Dell, NJ, administrators say it just keeps getting better.

It seems as though schools across the nation are finally addressing the need for putting technology in the hands of each student and providing every student with a voice. I have to say that it surprises me that it has taken so long to ‘catch on’. Unfortunately, the device is still driving the decision in a lot of districts, which is unfortunate as the focus should be on improving teaching and learning.

When our district was in the planning phases eight years ago, there were no resources available to help schools realize the importance of the role of education leadership in building effective technology programs.  Now there are many sites such as Intel K-12 Blueprint providing guidance to help leaders understand the importance of their involvement for a successful technology initiative. Some of the advice shared is to bring all of the stakeholders to the table to hear their perspective on policy, curriculum and assessment, and sustainable professional development, infrastructure and funding.

Luckily, we had chosen an HP device as our first device and along with this decision came a strong partnership with not only HP but with many of their partners they brought to the table to help us along the way down this ever expanding technology.

Last year we refreshed our lease to the best of the products so far; all teachers, staff and students have an HP Folio13 laptop, which meets the Intel standard as an UltraBook.  It is has a solid state hard drive and an Intel i5 processor which enables the teachers and students to create their content without constraints.

With each refresh, we brought administrators, teachers, students and the technology department to the table to evaluate devices. The students and teachers were passionate about staying on the Windows platform with the full Microsoft Office suite, Movie Maker as well as the Adobe creative suite, Camtasia Studio, Jing. The students create their content through podcasts, movies, documentaries, book trailers, video science labs and travel log video clips with voice overs in many languages.  Many of the districts that come to visit our school’s one to one, focus on a device that will meet PARCC or SmartBalance assessment specifications instead of the best device that would support the curriculum.  We have to take a step back and reassess the decision-making process.

The road to one to one requires a continuous dialog with partners and district stakeholders. One of first issues that we needed to address as a district was the importance of ongoing and sustained professional learning opportunities with personalized options. 

We recognize the need for personalized learning options for students but districts should provide several models for teacher and administrator learning too. Here are some one-to-one personalized learning approaches for staff:

  • On-demand options - staff can ‘rewind’ their learning
  • Face to face options
  • Flipped options - direct instruction can take place before a session thus providing time for deeper creation.

In future posts, we will delve into each of the areas that need to be explored for a successful one to one initiative and the new devices on the horizon for future implementations.

Marianthe Williams has been a district level administrator supporting teaching and learning with technology and professional learning for the past 15 years. Most recently, she has supported the River Dell Regional School District in the implementation of their one-to-one computing initiative which is about to enter its ninth year at the high school. In addition, she supports technology infusion into the middle school’s learner-centered environment. Williams created an elite team of technology turnkey teacher trainers within each discipline who provide ongoing, personalized options through face- to-face, on-demand and flipped professional learning opportunities to their colleagues. She is active in several state and local technology director associations and she currently serves on the technology committee for the New Jersey Association of School Administrators.

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