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Happy 25th, 1-to-1!

How long does it take for a new idea to take hold in education? It was 25 years ago – a quarter century– that the first laptop program was started. We’ve talked about the beginning of 1-to-1 in earlier posts – started in one school in Australia – not only at an all girls school, but in those pre-internet days, the girls were spending their time programming (girls & programming – what a promising start). One-to-one spread to about 80 schools across Australia before the idea moved to North America in the mid ‘90’s, where a number of forward thinking schools took what was then a very daring step. With wires strung across classrooms as the internet entered schools, they began to explore new learning opportunities for their students. But, they were the exception, not the rule. One-to-one was seen as a boutique idea, like so many short-lived education fads.

Today 1-to-1 is getting to be almost mainstream, with large districts, states, and even whole countries implementing or planning to implement some form of 1-to-1 for their schools and students. So 25 years - is that fast or slow for change? Since ideas don’t develop in a vacuum, it’s hard to gauge. Other changes have strongly influenced and enabled the spread of 1-to-1. The widespread use of cell phones, tablets, netbooks, laptops and technology, in general, in all areas of our lives, massive amounts of new content and digital learning materials available, much of it free, social media and the growth of online learning communities, MOOCs, and other forms of collaborative learning have provided both the tools and rationale for ubiquitous technology in schools. They have contributed to the growth of 1-to-1 and the dawning recognition of the potentially significant value for learners to each have at least one device to use for learning at school, at home, virtually.

But just having a device is only a start, the baseline for change. Necessary, but change shouldn’t stop there. Schools are only just beginning to explore how technology and its accompanying materials and communities let us rethink education, learning, and the role of school within this new learning environment. One-to-one isn’t and was never just about device deployment. It always is about providing unlimited opportunities for young people to learn anytime, anywhere. So, 25 years and counting as the real potential of 1-to-1 begins to be explored.
January 5th, 2015 @ 2:37PM