As my school wrestles with ideas around educational technology integration, I find myself thinking more more about the concept of a single device being deployed to every student and every teacher in the school. I thought that I would take a moment to jot down some of the benefits of a single device 1:1 program:

  • A single device is cheaper and easier to support for a school community.  Bulk purchases or leases can be made, and repairs and replacements are simple when you’re only dealing with one device, one image, and one operating system.  Cost should go down on the maintenance side as it should take fewer people to maintain a single device.
  • Single device systems are great when you expect every student to be doing the same thing the same way at the same time. They are an ideal parallel to the 20th century remodel the factory education.  Mass education/production of students can be achieved with maximum efficiency because every student is treated identically regardless of personal needs, backgrounds, learning styles, etc.
  • Single device systems can be networked with in a walled environment ensuring that students are never at risk of being exposed to any dangers outside of the school walls.  The school doesn’t have to think about protecting students from dangerous people online or educating students in the basics of how to conduct oneself in an online environment, because these “risks” have been completely removed from the student environment (at least during the school day on the school network/device).  Mind you, any benefit of connecting with other learners and experts around the world to leverage their perspectives and knowledge is completely lost too.  But that’s OK, because the kids are safe.  Right?
  • Single device systems are brilliant when you only want students using school devices for their school work.  If the intent is to have students use only specifically prescribed applications to do specific tasks then we aren’t worried about application conflicts or version differences.  All software is installed by the IT department and can be wiped, re-installed, or updated at any time.  Of course, the students will then go home to their own machines that have the software that they actually like to use to do work or play in the way that they need to do it.  The school machine is only used for school work and there is never enough time spent on the machine to truly transcend the tool so that it can be used without thinking about the technology as much as what it is being used for.  But that’s OK, because we know that it will always be able to do those simple, easily predicted tasks that the school wants it to be able to do.  Right?
  • The school can track and log every action on a school regulated machine.  Knowing that humans are inevitably bad at heart (at least the teenage versions are), it is inevitable that the users of these machines will be spending their time doing things that they’re not supposed to be doing.  A single device on a highly regulated network makes it really easy to catch the bad guys and punish them appropriately.

I’m sure that there are many other benefits of a single device 1:1 program that I haven’t thought of.  But if the above five reasons aren’t enough to convince you that it is to the benefit of every institution to tightly manage the device that students have access to, please let me know what I’ve missed.

Tongue now being removed from cheek.

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