As you can imagine many of the schools were talking about or presenting their theories, failures, and successes regarding One-to-One programs and Bring Your Own Technology(BYOT). I am not going to recap what everyone is doing or has done. Nor am I going to rant about curriculum impact, test scores, or anything related to academics. Instead I am going to summarize the three things that justify any school pursuing such initiatives:
Not a single school overtly listed these three things in their presentations. However, everyone of them found that all three areas were positively impacted after the implementation.
When I write – ERGONOMICS – I am not simply addressing clever furniture. I am in fact addressing the concept that in a school rooms and spaces need to be modular, suited for the work being done, and as comfortable to work in a possible. In addition they need to be safe and able to conform to building codes of the future. The more people you have in a given space with portable devices, the more flexible that space is. This also means that if you need to remodel a space the impact to accessible technology is minimal. This is common sense, but something often over-looked when we built IT labs or place computers in a noisy hallway.
Economics is a tough one to approach. Most people focus on the cost of the technology and what part of that cost the school will be responsible for bank-rolling. This is where models for one-to-one and BYOT begin to diverge. However, there are common positive economic affects that occur regardless of the chosen model. First off, space is not free. Everything left in a building takes up space and uses building resources. If a large percentage of needed technology is only being used a few hours day, and that technology is not occupying space, then a positive economic impact will be seen. This can be measured in utility expenses, freedom to increase revenue from additional teaching spaces, and a reduction in licensing fees paid by the school for on permises equipment.
The final point to consider is – DISASTER MANAGEMENT. Again this is not a ground breaking idea but something often overlooked. Education is often impacted because of natural disasters, flu outbreaks, facilities damage due to fire or water, etc. The list goes on and on. If an organization equips all its people with a technology standard and plan that includes everyone having a device, then work can continue in a decentralized manner. Many schools told me that due to earthquakes, typhoons, and SARS they decided to go one-to-one. They looked out how often the students fell behind from missing school and the benefits out-weight the costs and efforts of implementation. Downtime in education does not just waste money, it also can negatively impact student achievement and their future opportunities.
This post is not that enlightening, but if you think having a one-to-one program of some sort is a good idea, you will be hard pressed to find the right kind of data you need to prove it. Most of the data is Action Research based. Furthermore until testing methods change an increase in standardized test scores is not likely to be found. So the three areas of ergonomics, economics, and disaster management should be enough of an argument to justify the approval to form a model and feasibility study. It is hard for anyone to argue against better workspaces, lower operational costs, and less downtime.