Multiple Technology Devices or 1:1?

Penguin Multiplication

It’s becoming increasingly evident that technology continues to change the education landscape.  The landscape now consists of a variety of technology tools that teachers can use to facilitate the learning process.  If you look around the field of education you’re most likely going to find more schools that are going 1:1 with iPads (1 2 3) or Chromebooks (1 2 3).  I’ve even heard of schools that are using Kindles or tablets to replace textbooks. It can be challenging to decide what type of technology to order for your school district.  Should you go 1:1 or allow funding for multiple devices in the classroom?  I’m hoping to provide a different perspective on that topic through this post.

I’ve used iPads in the classroom and appreciate the many useful characteristics that they bring to the learning environment.  Students are often engaged while utilizing iPads and the user-friendly interface allows little transition time.  I’ve used iPads for individual math interventions, small group instruction, whole class problem solving activities, and math research.  The fast startup time, battery life, and enormous app selection makes iPads a contendor.  Regardless of all of the positives, I’m still looking for ways to create projects on the Ipad. I believe the iPad is primarily still considered a media consumption device first and a creating tool second.  Maybe this will change in the future?  For project creation involving increased keyboard volume, Flash, precision beyond fingers, and faster processing speeds a laptop/netbook might be a better choice.

Laptops/Netbooks bring additional processing power that an iPad may lack.  Recently my students created a podcast project that could only be completed on a computer.  The iPad has many podcasting apps, but all that I tried lacked the additional features that were needed.  Netbooks also provide opportunities to use open source education software.  This is often not possible with iPads.  From my experience, netbooks often fall short in battery life and startup times, although this is improving.

A document camera brings value to my classroom.  Everyday I use a document camera to display student work and model examples.  My document camera is connected to an LCD projector which displays images on a whiteboard.  Displaying work on the whiteboard and being able to use markers to make corrections or highlight exemplary work is extremely beneficial.  I don’t think I could go a day without using the document camera.

Of course there are many different ways to use technology in a math class.  Relying on only one option (like 1:1) without even considering computers may limit the opportunities for student learning and exposure.  Multiple devices, like iPads, netbooks, laptops, document cameras, tablets, Kindles, and ____ all have different uses.  Understanding how to utlize the technology at the right time is important.  Preparing our classrooms with multiple devices allows students the opportunity to pick the right tool for the project.  I believe we should model, but then give students the responsibility to decide what technology tool to use to complete the task.

What do you think?

Author: Matt Coaty

I've taught elementary students for the past 14 years. I enjoy reading educational research and learning from my PLN. Words on this blog are my own.

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