Technology has fast become a leading force in the classroom, and more and more schools are taking up the torch to supply their students with personal devices. In fact, as many as 90% of educators said they had at least one device for every middle and high school student by March of 2021, and 84% said the same of elementary school students, according to a survey by the EdWeekly Research Center.

Early research tells us there may be a direct correlation between 1:1 technology in schools and academic achievement and student motivation. This isn’t surprising, given that students with their own devices have access to a wealth of information. Teachers can create customizable learning experiences, and the system as a whole encourages independence and responsibility. However, making the switch can be challenging if you aren’t properly prepared and equipped.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about 1:1 technology, from the benefits and challenges to best rollout practices to streamline 1:1 implementation in your classrooms. Feed your curiosity, or discover what your school needs to take the next step.

What is 1:1 technology?

One-to-one technology, also known as one-to-one computing or a one-to-one initiative, refers to an educational program where schools provide each student with their own personal learning device.

a 1:1 technology management workflow makes life easier for students and staff with features like equipment tracking and IT ticketing
IT management ticketing software helps enable 1:1 initiatives in schools.

These devices are often computers, laptops, tablets, or Chromebooks. The type of technology issued, the usage strategy, and utilization time can vary significantly depending on the age and grade of the students and the institution’s educational goals. Middle school students will have different needs than elementary school students, so device choices for each may vary.

Teachers have a mighty tool in technology. If each student has access to their own device, the classroom suddenly becomes much more open than those four walls suggest. Educators can plan lessons and curriculums around hands-on material while integrating new technology to create expansive, customizable learning experiences.

Whether your school is considering introducing a 1:1 initiative or you’re aiming to improve an existing system, weighing the pros and cons of 1:1 technology can help you better understand this concept as a whole and how it could be implemented at your school.

The benefits of 1:1 initiatives

Supplying children with their own devices in school isn’t just for their convenience or enjoyment–though what child isn’t excited about a new tablet? As a matter of fact, 1:1 initiatives can increase engagement and quality of learning. Providing students with digital citizenship can positively impact their learning experience and better equip them for our modern world.

Access to a wealth of information

Not only will children have access to a host of information online, but they will also be able to access free educational programs, school-approved Google apps, and digital libraries. Teachers and educators will be able to utilize tools like Open Education Resources (OER). OER are free teaching, learning, and research materials that are built to be adaptable and shareable. Educators can find the best tools for their subject matter and grade to better suit their students and support their curriculum.

Teaches responsibility and fosters independence

To encourage children to take responsibility for their devices, schools should outline expectations prior to rolling out a 1:1 program. Provide resources for students so that when technological errors occur, they can take ownership and enact replacements and repairs. With the proper support in place, this tech-savvy generation of K-12 students can undoubtedly adopt 1:1 initiatives.

Allows for individualized learning for different levels and learning styles

Even when remote, students can collaborate on group projects in real time, or work on future assignments if they are ahead of pace. Likewise, students who need additional support can take advantage of live tutoring sessions or supplemental learning materials. Students and teachers can choose between different visual, verbal, or interactive learning tools to find the best fit.

Increases student engagement

Teachers can analyze student involvement, comment on completed work, remind students of upcoming deadlines, or provide homework help directly through learning platforms. Remember, most students have grown up with technology, so utilizing it in the classroom often feels familiar and unintimidating.

Encourages equality of opportunity

Children come from various socioeconomic backgrounds, and not all can afford their own computer or tablet. By supplying children with the same devices in class, you’re bringing equal learning opportunities to your school. Plus, 1:1 initiatives provide additional support to children who might not otherwise receive it.

Allows for distance learning

Whether children are sick, traveling, or partially homeschooled, technology helps bridge the gap to promote distance learning without sacrificing quality. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, 1:1 computing became an asset for schools around the world, and it’s likely here to stay. Plus, teachers can use the parent portal to communicate with families throughout the school year.

Prepares students for advanced technology in the real world

The real world is ever-evolving, and technology is at the forefront. If our children are brought up in an environment that fosters a positive experience with tech, we’re giving them one more tool in their belts for when they enter the workforce.

The challenges of 1:1 technology initiatives

While bringing technology to the individual students has undoubted benefits, there are certainly some drawbacks. The primary concerns for most schools are the additional cost and enforcement of online safety.

How much does a 1:1 initiative cost?

The cost to roll out a 1:1 initiative varies significantly by school size, the type of technology, and the area. Depending on the budget for your school or district, it may even require additional funding. According to data gathered by EdTech Evidence Exchange, K-12 schools spent between $26 billion and $41 billion annually on education technology prior to the pandemic. Since 2020, the cost has likely risen significantly. Broken down individually, that means the average school spends about $306 per student on technology, networks, and relevant staffing.

To put it in perspective, The Los Angeles Unified School District paid $768 per device for its students, teachers and administrators. Clark County School District in Nevada paid $384 per device, Corvallis School District in Oregon paid $400, and Mooresville Graded School District in North Carolina pays about $215 per year for devices, according to a survey by K-12 Dive.

It can be costly upfront, but if done correctly, it can save schools from the recurring costs of outdated textbooks and other source materials. However, on the upside, a 1:1 initiative can help save teachers a few hundred dollars a year. Teachers often pitch in personal funds to decorate their classrooms and provide their students with supplemental supplies for projects. In fact, the average teacher spends about $750 each year on their students. By providing students with personal devices, you also give teachers the opportunity to expand curriculums at no additional cost. While some supplemental learning supplies will always be necessary, technology can provide an endless supply of digital materials.

Managing 1:1 assets remotely

While most schools now offer in-person instruction, it is still important for teachers to maintain control over their students’ technology when possible. This can help preserve the life of the technology and also helps ensure the programs and materials are working properly. If a device falls out of sync or malfunctions, there needs to be a system in place to repair the device quickly or replace it.

There’s also the issue of device safety online. There are several safety initiatives to keep students safe while using educational technology. Typically, adults can use filters and controls to block specific searches or sites. Safety protocols may vary depending on whether students are in middle school, upper school, or elementary school. Teacher and parent supervision and involvement is also key in this initiative. Parents and teachers should talk to children about safe technology practices, especially as it pertains to internet access.

How can I use 1:1 technology in the classroom?

Every district has different needs, so it’s important to consider what’s most important to you as you roll out a new 1:1 program this school year.

Students and teachers can use 1:1 asset management software to pair with a variety of educational devices for 1:1 initiatives.
1:1 asset management software can pair students and staff with a variety of devices.

Type of technology

Would tablets or Chromebooks work best for you? How much storage will the devices need? What are your data usage needs, and what about internet speed capabilities at school and at home? Some schools opt to pay for data plans for hotspot usage, while others leave this up to the students’ families. Consider your area and assess your needs.

Establishing policies

One of the most important aspects to consider when starting a 1:1 initiative is the onboarding process. Staff should be prepared for each step of the process, from the actual disbursement of the devices to repairs and maintenance, device replacements, systems for remote monitoring, and usage expectations for the classroom and at home. Parent portals could also be an effective way to encourage family involvement and enforce an acceptable use policy. Schools should always establish written policies to share with staff, students, and parents to guarantee expectations are clear from day one.

Device disbursement and management

Most schools opt to disperse new devices as a part of the new year’s enrollment process. With 1:1 asset management programs, staff can easily issue student devices with simple programs that store all relevant information. That way, you can track which student has which device, which student has required multiple device repairs or replacements, which devices need to be updated, etc. The best way to do this is by using 1:1 asset management software.

FMX can help you get started

Getting started on a 1:1 initiative is half the battle—and we’re here to make it easy.

FMX 1-to-1 Asset Manager allows you to track technology devices and supplies assigned to students

FMX’s 1-to-1 Asset Manager feature makes deployment and collection of school-owned devices easy. Simply scan device barcodes or IDs to assign devices, submit IT repair tickets, assign loaner devices, see work order logs, and remove device assignments, all in one interface.

Our school asset management software can help you manage your 1:1 technology from the get-go with mobile asset tracking, asset mapping for easy device location, and a centralized asset database to store all relevant information.

We invite you to schedule a demo to learn more about FMX’s school asset management software and how it can help with your 1:1 initiative.