Are You On The Path To 1:1?

As we make the move to being a 1:1 school next year at Burlington High School, there is definitely anxiety among many staff members (including me).   I take the unrest as a necessary step in this and any major initiative.  We all know how hard change is, especially in the world of education. But when we look closely at the mission statements we have in each of our schools the question of going 1:1 changes from how? to how soon?

Take the Burlington High School Mission Statement for example which states:

Burlington High School prepares students for lifelong learning and responsible citizenship by offering a challenging, relevant curriculum and varied activities in a safe environment.

We would have to drastically modify our mission if we were not taking a route towards a 1:1 environment.  We really cannot be a place that thoroughly prepares students for lifelong learning and responsible citizenship if we are not utilizing some of the same digital tools students will have access in their post high school pursuits. We certainly can’t say we are teaching responsible citizenship if we are not focusing on digital citizenship.

In his book Education Nation, Milton Chen calls 1:1 access “the digital civil right of every student to participate in his or her own education.”  I could not agree more and if we truly care about our students, then we will toss aside our anxiety and remember our primary role as educators to prepare our students for what they will face when they leave our schools. Since the world outside our doors is changing at a faster rate than any time in history, we should be seeing some shifts within our walls as well.

We have all heard about the fact  that we are preparing students for jobs that don’t exist yet.  Following this line of thinking, can we really do this if we are not modifying our own current job descriptions?  We are our own biggest obstacles in moving forward.  As Chen points out, the state of Maine successfully implemented 1:1 programs over a decade ago.  Gary Stager has also been talking about the benefits of 1:1 for years.

The path has been successfully set in front of us and we need to start making some movement on it.  George Couros summed up the needed mindset well when discussing some changes happening at his school – “I don’t care how far along you are on the path. I just want you on the path.”

I hope you will join us!


  1. Darcy Moore said:

    Our school has Year 9-11 with Lenovo netbooks in NSW, Australia. This is approximately 550 students who all have wireless access. We have learnt much about 1:1 but still have a long way to travel as teachers update pedagogy (which is more urgent than using digital resources). MOODLE is useful but tools like Edmodo have more potential IMHO. We need to have students and teachers being designers and creators as ‘consumption’ is still the mode we are in. I have come to the conclusion that the ongoing conversation in staffrooms and online is more important that than the PD session (which does fuel the fire of the chat).

    March 26, 2011
    • Darcy – Thanks for the comment. I think that you are spot on with your thoughts on needing to help teachers and students become designers and creators. Just plugging in new devices without taking a long look at changing how we operate in our classrooms will accomplish little.

      March 27, 2011
    • Cathy Molumby, Supt said:

      Our district implemented 1:1 this past fall. We are making strides along “the path,” some further along than others. I have hopes of getting more teachers to experience the powerful learning in participating in ‘connected learning networks’ though Twitter and/or other social networks with other Learners. To experience the powerful learning in that type of learning would assist our teachers to be open to (and assist) Learning Networks for students. In our district, we will be piloting a (student-centered, with high school, post-secondary, business, community, & parent) Learning Network program in the fall.

      March 27, 2011
      • Cathy – Thanks for sharing your district’s plans. I would love to hear more about how you are setting up your learning network program.

        March 28, 2011
  2. Alice Barr said:

    What we have found, is that the longer we are in this, (8 years in our high school), the more professional development we need. Teachers need more time to learn and figure out how these tools and applications. We also need to differentiate the learning for teachers as they are on many different levels of adoption. As to the job changing, I couldn’t agree more. It is an expectation that teachers websites and online information are kept updated as part of everyday practice. It has become habit to do your email, online grades and comments, and update your homework calendar on your time. Students understand that they have access to a teacher at any hour through email and sometimes chat. And now with the Google Apps for Ed tools, communication and collaboration are even easier than ever!

    It’s great that you are going 1:1. It has been a wonderful process for us. There has been a major change in our culture, mostly around the positive benefits of learning. Having the ability to take devices home has really created a shift in how we do our work. My advice is to just go with it. Trust in your process and you will have a great implementation.

    March 27, 2011
    • Thanks Alice – We need to come to Yarmouth and see and hear about this firsthand. Looking forward to seeing you f2f at Tech Learning Boston in a couple of weeks!

      March 27, 2011
  3. Alice Barr said:

    Absolutely, you are welcome to visit anytime! See you at Tech Forum!

    March 27, 2011
  4. Kate Tracy said:

    Hi, we’re 1 year out from full 1 to 1 – very rapid pace (in under two years!) Very challenging for many staff who are on a wide continuum to say the least. We began with whole staff in servicing around web 2, have a strong use of moodle, increasingly for much more than repository. Pd now, and has been for last two years around just in time, point of need – heaps more effective and targets individual learning needs. New role created (mine) coordinator of teaching/learning with a determined focus on collaborative programming. 1 to 1 is beyond necessary if we’re to honour any rhetoric around 21c learning etc. The tool needs to be in their hands.

    March 27, 2011
    • Thanks for sharing details from your implementation. We should not be questioning why we need to do this any longer. The only question should be how soon can we do this. Please keep sharing your school’s journey on this path.

      March 27, 2011
  5. Clarence Gross said:

    Hi. I am a principal at a small, rural Jr./Sr. High School. I house grades 7 – 12. We are investigating the move to full one to one computing in the near future. In fact a team from my district is scheduled to make a visit to a one to one school in April. What are some of the initial challenges faced in transitioning to one to one computing and what were some of the solutions you found to be effective to these issues?

    March 28, 2011
    • Clarence – The biggest issue I feel is getting both the community and staff to understand why we need to do this. Once you convince the stakeholders that this is a move that is in the best interest of students, things begin to come together.

      We have developed a list of FAQ’s that I would be happy to share. Feel free to contact me.

      March 28, 2011
      • Clarence Gross said:


        Would you please share the list you mentioned. I do not have your contact info. My email address is

        March 29, 2011
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