Edina Public Schools in Minnesota included a one-to-one notebook computer initiative in its 2007–2013 Long-Range Technology Plan. The objective? For all staff and learners to have access to information through the district’s telecommunications infrastructure.
After researching best practices for one-to-one computing and visiting successful programs, the district developed a pilot initiative with the following goals directly aligned to its strategic plan:
- Enhance personalized learning.
- Expand learning beyond the school walls.
- Develop 21st century skills.
- Improve student engagement.
- Maximize the district’s resources of time and talent.
The pilot program began during the 2008–2009 school year, when a team of 22 teachers received notebook computers and formed a community of practice to study notebook learning and how they would teach differently in a more student-centered classroom.
In addition, in January 2009, the district launched a “bring your own device” initiative and invited students at Edina High School to take part. About 50 students agreed to participate in the BYOD program.
Together, these two efforts meant that the following school year, a team of teachers and 155 eighth-grade students had access to notebook computers at home and school to assist their learning. (For pointers on how to adopt this approach, read “6 Steps for Increasing Student Access with BYOD.”)
An independent evaluation of the program found:
- Teachers, students and parents liked the one-to-one concept.
- Many technical, hardware and connectivity issues — both at school and at home — hindered learning activities.
- The pilot negatively affected teachers’ collaboration with their colleagues.
- Technology and integration support lacked adequate staff.
- Based on participant observations, students expanded their technical skills.
- More than 50 percent of students polled used their own computers at home instead of the notebooks provided by the school.
Based on this information and the lack of funds to expand the following year, the district revised its plans. The new strategy called for:
- distributing notebooks on carts at the districts’ two middle schools;
- increasing the number of wireless access points in both schools;
- developing an infrastructure that lets students use their own personal devices;
- training teachers to leverage anytime, anywhere learning strategies;
- buying netbooks that students can check out from carts during school hours; and
- increasing media center hours to expand access to online services.