You mean, your class doesn’t have one to one?

The facilitators and coaches in Innovative Education hear this question a lot:

“How am I supposed to use just 6 devices in my classroom?”

This question often gets highlighted as intermediate and senior students in our school board are fortunate enough to each have a Chromebook. The fact that some have one to one puts the spotlight on classes that rely on one to… some. The exciting thing that some teachers do not realize is that having fewer devices may actually mean you are leveraging digital technologies in extremely meaningful ways!

Sometimes it is easy to get stuck in the one to one trap. Every student has a device, which is absolutely amazing, unless you are replacing pencils with keyboards. Have these devices become word processors for students sitting in rows, typing down notes from the – dare I say – overhead projector? Or have these devices transformed the way students learn in our classrooms? Luckily, most of us can say that having these devices really have sparked a shift in the way teachers think about pedagogy in their classrooms. There is always work to be done and the learning should never stop for educators, but it is easy to see how we all can fall in the the trap of one to one replacing old pedagogical practices. That’s where “one to some” becomes fantastic for pedagogy.

I was fortunate to discuss the successes and challenges that come with a “one to some” setup with the junior teachers at Williamsburg Public School. By working together, we found that having fewer devices in the classroom allows the educators in the room to place a more critical eye on pedagogical practice. Through our discussions, we found that the following were true in a “one to some” environment:

  • Teacher-centric pedagogy does not work well in a “one to some” environment
  • “One to some” encourages a more flexible learning environment with student centers and student choice (computers can be used as a station or can be given to larger groups of students to be used in a collaborative manner)
  • “One to some” emphasizes the importance of student voice in learning as video and screen recordings are easy ways of demonstrating learning
  • “One to some” places a focus on the global competencies in the classroom, especially around collaboration and global citizenship
  • “One to some” works best in a classrooms that embrace flexible and innovative spaces

Teachers that are fortunate enough to have a one to one program in their classrooms have amazing opportunities to leverage digital in effective ways. However, this doesn’t mean that students in classrooms with less devices are void of powerful experiences when leveraging digital. When teachers embrace the ideas listed above, students benefit from being in a classroom that not only leverages digital effectively, but that focuses on sound pedagogical practices and the global competencies.

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