Top tips for implementing 1:1

According to three experts in the field of mobile learning, getting the workflow, the training and the finance right are essential factors in the successful implementation of any 1:1 project. Here is their advice.

Daniel – Cloud based storage and workflow, choose your weapon and stick to it

Cloud based storage
One of the biggest fears for teachers, when introducing new technology into the classroom, is where does all the work go? A school needs to be very clear where digital assets are to be stored and cloud based storage is highly recommended. Google, Microsoft and Apple all offer storage which is unlimited under certain conditions. The beauty of this kind of solution is that applications will immediately link into the storage and therefore everything can be centralised.

Timely feedback is crucial to learning and mobile technology enables teachers to communicate with students outside of a traditional paper workflow. It is very important that schools, departments and staff look into the right solution for their context. Showbie, Google Classroom and Edmodo are a useful starting point and the decision should not be made lightly.

José – Question: What’s more expensive than training staff? Answer: Not training staff

When you research the success and, in quite a few cases, failure of 1:1 implementations, two things strike you. Firstly, large scale implementations – e.g. country or council wide – tend to  hit the rocks fairly early on due to lack of attention that is generally paid to the highly contextualised factors that will eventually determine the project’s fate.

Smaller scale school wide implementations tend to fare better because they generally follow the well-trodden path of what works in their specific contexts. However, they still risk monumental failure if all the resources are spent on the infrastructure and hardware and hardly any on the issue of training staff and pupils to take advantage of the kind of workflows facilitated by the use of mobile devices.

At the end of the day, the success or failure of any 1:1 initiative will be measured by how well the new technology is integrated into the daily business of teaching and learning. Therefore time, effort and money need to be spent on establishing a vision for the project and providing the necessary, frequent and ongoing  training opportunities without which teacher and student buy in – and therefore success – is far from guaranteed.

Dominic – Proper financial modelling and an affordable scheme are crucial to sustaining the change

Lease, don’t buy
A decent lease agreement can save schools a lot of money over the 3 years of a tablet’s lifecycle. Rental payments can add up to as little as 85% of the value of the devices, with a balloon payment at the end of the lease if a 3rd party (e.g. the parents) want to own the tablet. Leasing doesn’t make sense to me if you plan to keep the asset or want to operate it for more than 3 years, but for tablets it’s a very affordable route.

Model your full costs
Lots of schemes run into trouble because of unforeseen costs. That’s why it’s vital to develop a comprehensive financial model. The devices themselves are unusable, or at least fatally hobbled, if you haven’t budgeted for decent cases, comprehensive insurance, Mobile Device Management software and the educational apps. That’s before you get to the other stuff you might need, including upgraded infrastructure and a storage solution. Surface all these costs at the start and build them into your plan to avoid nasty surprises later on.

Contributors to this piece were:

  • Daniel Edwards – Director of Innovation and Learning at The Stephen Perse Foundation Schools
  • Dominic Norrish – Group Director of Technology at United Learning
  • José Picardo – Assistant Principal at Surbiton High School

Daniel, Dominic and José are also among the authors of Educate 1-to-1: The secrets to successfully planning, implementing and sustaining change through mobile learning in schools.

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