Mobile devices for 1:1 programs

Mobile devices for 1:1 programs

I saw this on the Eduro blog. This isn’t an article though, it is a YouTube conversation. I just realized that their YouTube link doesn’t work so here is the correct link. So they discuss whether or not 1:1 programs should be built with mobile (iPads, tablets, Chromebooks) since students use mobile devices much more than laptops or desktops?

Spoiler: Laptops aren’t going anywhere.

The argument made is that laptops can run certain programs and do certain tasks that mobile devices. For example, but not limited to, Photoshop, professional video editing apps, professional website building apps, database creation apps, professional (or robust) publishing software, serious spreadsheet programs and so on.

Does this mean that schools that opt for iPads, Chromebooks or other tablets in schools? No, not at all. These devices have their own merits: cost, durability, integration with your current systems (Google Drive, Office 365). Also, you can have an IT lab or laptop cart that contains those devices with those special programs.

The bottom line is this. When students leave school and start a profession more often than not they will be handed a laptop or have a desktop. It’s pretty simple. I wrote a post about The future of smartphones and teachers where I dream about having my smartphone be my primary and only computing device. The sad truth is we are not there yet. One day.

What do you think?

Devices – Students, teachers, schools

I’m a part of a Listserv that works pretty much just in the state I live in. It is often helpful, sometimes funny and in this case a little though provoking. This morning I came across this entry (below) and it got me thinking about devices in the school.

Quickly these questions popped into my head:

  • Should teachers and students have the same device?
  • If teachers have a different device than students, should they also have the device that the students use?
  • Should everyone in the school have the same device?
  • Is it OK to give teachers older devices instead of new ones?

Let’s tackle these questions one by one.

Should teachers and students have the same device?

If your school is using Chrome OS or iPads or Android tablets as the students 1:1 device, then the answer is a hard NO. Simple as that. While Chrome OS is a laptop and a lot can be done on it there are clear limitations and sometimes a teacher needs to be able to install certain programs that are not web based. As for the tablets, typing and productivity is the clear limitation. Sure you can type a highly formatted math test on an iPad by it’ll take forever.

If your students are on MacBooks or full on Windows machines then sure it will be fine. Teachers will have the power they need, the issue is more on the student side. Managing those machines are not as easy as a tablet or Chrome OS.

  • As for the new Windows 10S I am not sure. I’ve not had any experience or know anyone who has had experience with this system yet. It does sound a little limiting that you can only install apps from the Windows App store so I lean towards no, teachers and students should have different devices.

If teachers have a different device than students, should they also have the device that the students use?

The short answer is no, but hear me out. In the Listserv that person clearly feels that teachers should have a second device. The reasoning that person puts forth is pretty sound, but in reality I am not so sure. I think knowing what can and cannot be done on a device is important, but let’s think about it. How often does a teacher really need to test something out? Is it every day, week or month?

I would say that a teacher (or department) could test out an app or website and then put the device aside. I am not sure that the teacher would need the device all the time. They just need access to the device. While this isn’t exactly convenient it will keep a lot of devices being allocated to teachers that won’t use it.

At my school our middle school is 1:1 iPads. Each teacher has their own MacBook Air and their own iPad. The reason behind it was the iPad could help the teachers capture and create better than a laptop. The reality is that most of our teachers do not use these devices in that manner. When I took inventory of them this year there was more than one time that a teacher commented that they rarely use it at school. I also rarely see teachers out an about with them. While the logic behind the decision was sound it must certainly be questioned.

There is a possibility here though and I think it is hinted at in the post. If a school has already gotten the life out of a device. For example if a laptop is supposed to only last 4 years but is still functioning past that date, then it may be OK to give those to teachers as long as the teachers do not expect the school or district to repair or replace them as they fail.

Should everyone in the school have the same device?

Nope! Just too darn expensive. A Chromebook can start around $200 for a decent one. iPads start around $300. At our school our teachers have MacBook Airs which start at $1000. Pretty simple to see that while it would be great to give all of our students MacBook Airs, it just isn’t financially responsible.

Even if you start sizing up Windows laptops. While cheaper, they are still far more expensive than iPads and Chromebooks. Heck even some of the newer Windows 10 S laptops are pretty cheap.

Is it OK to give teachers older devices instead of new ones?

I have seen this. A teacher comes in and is assigned a device that may be 3–4 years old. In fact I see this practice at most schools. It is totally OK as long as the school is willing to support and help maintain the device and that the school has a plan on how to replace these machines with new ones. That last part is the key. A teacher will struggle with a laptop for a year if they know that right around the corner is a shiny new one.

Let me give you an example of the other case. I once worked at a school where I was given a Windows desktop. The problem was that it only had 1GB of RAM and the Windows OS hadn’t been properly updated or really maintained. It turned out the computer was almost 10 years old. Booting up was 3 minute process and trying to print would take just as long with a 50/50 chance of actually printing. The hard drive was nearly full (from past users who had not been deleted) and no one really responded to my IT tickets. The machine became basically unusable for anything but reading email.

I ended up unplugging it and storing it in my classroom closet and just used my personal laptop.

So how would you respond to those questions and what questions did I miss? Be sure to put them in the comments below!

Behaviour, Non-Negotiables, and Devices

I had a meeting recently about some behaviour issues related to students using iPads. These meetings are not unusual for me, or anyone who manages technology. For that matter, this is common for anyone working in education. Students have “things” and “do things”. Everyone has issues with behaviour.

During the meeting, I was able to articulate something that I understand, but often do not say enough: “Do not connect behaviour rules to devices or things, connect them to behaviour and actions.”

I asked the group to make three statements that are non-negotiable, and can easily be followed by all teachers without interpretation. An example would be, “I have warned you twice, now you need to go to the office.”

I encouraged them to focus on statements that do not connect to a “thing” but rather to the behaviour or action. My reasoning is that if the school connects non-negotiable policies to an object, when that object changes the reinforcement may also change. People associate logic and reasoning to objects. In many NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) models, objects are used to anchor memories and feelings. One does not have to be a master of neuroscience to acknowledge that by not setting an anchor, board consistency is more likely to remain when change occurs.


I am certain everyone understands the concept of a non-negotiable statement or practice. However, not everything can be a non-negotiable, and I do not see the need for many of them. These statements (which is the context I am focusing on) should be universal within the school and easily applied without interpretation. The application by a teacher merely moves the students and situation to another level of discussion. A non-negotiable does not need to result in a severe action, but some action must be taken.

I believe all schools running any type of 1-to-1 device program should have these statements and have them clearly posted and communicated to the entire community.

Here are some structures I believe are useful and practical:

  1. You have been warned (X – Number of Times), now, (Action).
  2. Personal privacy is not a flexible issue. (Action).
  3. Unauthorized content, or use of unauthorized content, was clearly explained. (Action).
  4. Everything here (define) indicates plagiarism or academic dishonesty. (Action).
  5. This appears to be a potential risk or threat to personal safety. (Action).

The power in these statements is that there is no discussion. Once communicated, the student will immediately move to the action phase. The behaviour is being addresses, without mentioning the “how and what” involved. Those details may be discussed later after the student has been moved to the next level of action. They need to know what they have done is not only against the rules, but something the teacher simply refuses to discuss alone.

Tony DePrato