1-to-1: Starting Well

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I have visited and consulted for schools in the U.S. and overseas around 1-to-1 and also researched 1-to-1 for many years. These schools are in varying stages of planning, implementation, rollout, refresh and analysis. Most want advice on how their programs are going in any of these stages. There is always the chance to return and correct, but schools save themselves the most time if they start well. Here are some pointers for this:

o Involve all your stakeholders in the visioning and planning. While not every person can sit on your Visioning Committee, representatives from your faculty, administration, parents, and students will bring out ideas and perspectives you need for success. And don’t forget students – they are the single largest stakeholder in terms of numbers and impact on their lives.

o Visit, attend conferences, research, ask many questions. Schools embarking on 1-to-1 have the luxury that many others schools did this already. Assemble your questions and a team and take road trips to other schools and to conferences. Be sure to ask the tough questions such as: What went wrong? What did you learn now in hindsight?

o Give teachers devices first – at least 6 months to 1 year before students.

o Invest in Professional Development but understand it should be varied and job-embedded. Make it relevant to each teacher in each classroom for each discipline.

o Include an online learning community. Without a unifying system that everyone is part of (and not email) you risk classrooms in silos that are not connected. Make 1-to-1 be about collaboration with a 1-stop shopping location everyone uses.

o Know that pilots don’t tell everything. Most schools pilot and expect the teachers piloting to be the documenters of everything. However, the pilot teachers are highly motivated and likely early adopters. Their workarounds and motivation might not scale to every teacher and every classroom. Expect the year after the pilot when more teachers come on board to be bumpy when issues are uncovered that didn’t come up during the pilot.

o Pay attention to logistics. Spare devices, power cords, batteries, charging stations, cases, insurance all matter. Your visits and research will help with this.

o If you’re going BYOD, make sure you know what you’re getting into. Good news is that many schools are successful and you can pick their brains. A great place for BYO information is Thursday nights 9 p.m. U.S. Eastern time to follow #byotchat on Twitter and to search their archives. The people contributing have solved many problems and are very collegial and willing to share their material.

o Invest in tech. Not just devices, but infrastructure so that roaming devices won’t choke when students bring them from math to language arts. And not just infrastructure, but people who understand and can keep your network effective. When you interview, try to find helpful people who understand that teachers need to be prioritized at the top of their list.

o Question, analyze, follow up, listen, revisit, refresh, check, repeat.

There’s plenty more of course. But this is a good list to start. What’s on your list? Please share. Also if you’re going next week to the Microsoft in Education Global Forum in Barcelona please look for me and let’s talk.

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