Bryson Min ’15 and Nick Sherrard ’15
Many schools systems have been adapting to the 21st century through the implementation of a “1 to 1” Program. This program allows students as well as faculty to join into an electronic community to better promote and incorporate curriculum into the students everyday lives. In order to achieve this, school systems either distribute devices or enforce a rule where students must provide their own devices. These devices are then linked with a school Wifi system (usually) so that students can work at any time on projects and assignments for class. The “1 to 1” Program is a huge advancement in education. However, each school interprets its differently.
This program provides students with many benefits and opportunities to improve their educational experiences, including the ability for students to constantly be connected to the internet. With this connection, students are able to access any file at any time, leading to an ease of access to assignments and projects in the classroom. Additionally, students can now work in a digital world, which prepares them to move into the modern technological world. Furthermore, class projects gain more depth as students create more dynamic and fulfilling presentations and creations in a school environment.
There are some consequences that come with the program, computer problems being the most obvious. With such a variety of devices and new technology in the world, difficulties can be expected to arise. Software updates, firewalls, infections, and program malfunctions all contribute the overall issue of the “1 to 1” Program. This requires the school to implement its own IT staff in order to facilitate all the issues and complaints. Furthermore, Wifi turns into a sort of bloodline for the school. If it goes out, all school functionality essentially shuts down. Finally, all electronics run on power, and in order to attain this power they must be charged. This means that schools must reconfigure classrooms and common areas in order to provide access to charging stations for students.
At St. Edward High School, the implementation of the “1 to 1” Program has begun a revolution in the way students are now being taught. It provides a common domain for students to work together alongside the faculty to further their education. Students are required to have a device for school. The school has expanded on its use of the web service Haiku, which acts a scheduling site and organizes assignments and exams. “If it’s not on Haiku, it isn’t due” is a phrase that has been going around the student body this year. Although Haiku was available to the school last year, very few teachers used it. Now it is mandated for teachers to use and has made it easier on the students to keep up to date on current assignments. Additionally, e-mail has been changed into a center for announcements and updates in a student’s day and a complete contact system for both faculty and students. As seen here, the “1 to 1” Program has made organization and communication between students and faculty much more efficient.
Teachers Provide Insight on their Use of 1-1
Mr. Romano, engineering department teacher and IT department technician, has provided insight into how he sees the “1 to 1” Program playing out. One of the major insights he gave of was a criticism the universal idea of the program. Mr. Romano commented that while it is convenient that the school operates under a Bring Your Own Device system, he says, “I would for sure want uniform devices that are provided by the school. This way they can be tightly managed by the IT department and parts will be universal among student devices. Uniform devices would also help with charging because everyone would have the same device, charger and battery making it easier for that unexpected dead battery.” He added that charging is a constant issue throughout the school as students do not exactly have plentiful access to power stations at all times. Additionally, if a student has a dead battery and does not use one of the school provided Chromebooks, he does not have a device during class. Mr. Romano sees one of the greatest benefits of the program is the constant access to Haiku and e-mail, allowing students and teachers to constantly be connected in their curriculums in or out of school. If a problem would arise with any Apple computer, Mr. Romano is St. Edward’s Apple Certified Macintosh Technician.
The teaching staff at St. Edward High School have undergone a major reconfiguration of the way they teach in the classroom starting this year. All teachers, now, in some form, implement the “1 to 1” Program into their classroom after receiving training over the summer to teach courses based around this mindset. While the main idea of the program is common, each teacher experiences it differently in their classrooms. We had the opportunity to interview some of our staff and ask what they felt about the inclusion of the “1 to 1” Program into their teaching styles.
Mrs. Hermann says that “the 1 to 1 program has improved [her] class thus far. It has enhanced student collaboration and made project based learning much easier to facilitate.” When asked if she thought students were benefiting from the program, she said, “I think the 1 to 1 program allows students to take ownership in their learning and creates situations in which students can collaborate creatively with one another.” However, she added that students have a harder time staying focused in class with the devices in front of them. She has had to implement new classroom management policies to keep students on task.
Mr. Fichter had similar complaints about the program: “I think it will take time for the students themselves to get used to the discipline required to stay focused when there are so many interesting worlds at one’s fingertips. I would also love to have those big mirrors installed in the classroom; the kind that stores such as CVS use to discourage shoplifting. This may create the impression of an Orwellian dystopian state but some sacrifices need to be made for the sake of law and order.” When asked about the usefulness of the program, he replied, “it is a tool. A hammer can be useful in some situations and not in others. I think most class periods would benefit from having some time devoted to “screens down” activity. We are just scratching the surface of the possibilities of a 1 to 1 learning environment.”
Ms. Dennstedt, a teacher not only new to the program, but to the school as well, expressed some minors concerns towards the program. She stated that, “the major change I’ve seen is the “how” when it comes to teaching styles,” further emphasizing how it is a major shift from the “pen and paper” style of teaching. It’s the major shift from the “pen and paper” style of teaching, not only for the students but the teachers as well. As the year progressed, she noticed how there has been a shift in the attitude of the classroom. “Down time in the classrooms has shifted from student-teacher interactions to computer time… I would like to see the valuable interpersonal relationships established in the classroom again.”
How the Students Feel
In the end, the most valid opinion of the program is held by those who are influenced the most by it; that being the students of St. Edward High School. A survey was distributed out to the students in order to find out the they think about the effects of the program. There was a resounding response that showed an honest o pinion held b y the population of St. Edward High School.
The primary question was honestly the most essential; and that is whether or not the students themselves are benefitting from the program. The positive note was that a majority of students do indeed find themselves benefitting from the program, however the part that must be taken into consideration is that about 20% of the students do not find themselves benefiting well from the program.
The greatest issue is that this program was implemented for the betterment of the student’s education, yet a larger than ideal amount of students do not feel this is the case. This must be remedied as it is not at all fair to the students if the pay for a higher educational standard but feel they are not benefiting as best they could from it. However, in a later question when asked about the overall success of the program in the school, the negative statistic drops down to only 11% which shows that a resounding majority support the implementation of the program. Additionally, it can be seen that those students who do not feel like they are personally benefiting from the program also say that the program is not a success in the school.
A note must be added that this poll consisted of 170 students in total, leaving a majority of the school explicitly unspoken for. The irony is that students are constantly connected, yet were not able to respond to the survey specifically pertaining to the program that affects them most. The fact that is perhaps the most notable though, is whether or not teachers in the school have effectively utilized the “1 to 1” Program in the classroom. The majority answer is no. In fact, over 80% of the students do not feel teachers are implementing the “1 to 1” Program effectively. It seems to be that even with the summer briefing on how to use the program effectively, many teachers still lack the capability. This speaks out to the fact that further education must be given to the teachers, as they are the ones who act as the conduit that connects the program (and curriculum) to the students.
The “1 to 1” Program has had an extreme influence on the modern educational model at St. Edward High School. This is the first year of the program and while it has had its bumps, it seems that the program itself has been a success in the school. The greatest complaints revolve around improvements in charging stations and the efficiency of the Wifi network; but other than those, both students and teachers appear to be benefitting from this new program.