By. Tyretta Obeng

If you would have asked me at the beginning of the year, I would have told you that I did not want a MacBook. I thought that having one-to-one devices in the classroom would make classes more online, thus getting rid of some aspects of class that is important to me.

There are many different learning types. Some students are kinesthetic learners, which means they best understand information through hands-on activities or figuring things out by hand. For example, they would understand how a clock works by putting one together. Other students, like myself, are auditory learners. Auditory learners best understand content through listening and speaking situations like lectures or group discussions. Do teachers accommodate technology into their lesson plans, while accommodating different learning types into their lessons?

A one-to-one environment is where each student in a school or district has their own personal laptop, netbook, tablet computer, or other mobile devices in order to access technology that could enhance their education. Teachers are given the opportunity to take full advantage of the new learning technologies and online educational resources when all students have the tools they need to enrich the way they learn. This can also prepare students for post-secondary opportunities because this environment produces students who are technologically skilled and literate.

Previously, only 6-8th graders had their own iPads. Recently, the public financially supported Shakopee Public Schools’ goal to equip each high school student with their own MacBook. There were several different reactions at first to this new news. What would classrooms look like with these changes? When teachers were asked about their initial opinions about switching to a one-to-one environment, most of them were excited about the computers. They could see students being more productive in class. These devices can allow students to self-discover and be curious. Teachers appreciated that all students have access to technology.

Even though teachers see these new devices as a helpful learning tool, they are also worried about how this could be a distraction. People believe that one-to-one can raise student achievement engagement in learning. Most teachers believe that one-to-one devices can allow students to be in control of their own learning, providing them with tools necessary for students that take it seriously. Yet to determine if it can boost overall student success, it depends upon how this new technology is being used. One teacher claims that they were not convinced that having one-to-one computing would impact student performance.  They said that they have seen many students that continue to make the same types of mistakes with their computers that they might make with less high tech equipment, such as not bringing their computer to class, not having their computer charged, or being distracted by their computer.

For most the benefits outweigh the concerns. One advantage mentioned by teachers was that it takes away a lot of the excuses students might give for not getting things done. The days of “my dog ate my homework” or “I forgot it at home” are over; teachers expect students to be on top of their work because everything is online. All assignments, calendar events, and information about the class is primarily online. Another advantage is that it allows students to work at their own pace. Students who understand the coursework have the option of working at a faster pace than students that would need more help. It helps teachers differentiate students’ work based on ability levels, and if used properly, it can help teachers attend to the needs of students with different learning styles. One teacher talked about how there were fewer limits for their class with access to computers, which are pretty critical for their classwork.

The most common disadvantage for staff is that they are a distraction. It is difficult to monitor student activity and engagement when so many students are using their devices to shop online, play games, and watch video/movies/TV program. It is a new challenge in that it was and is easier to simply ban phones – there’s no need for them for schoolwork when we have the devices.

Teachers are beginning to integrate technology into their lesson plans. Overall teachers have started to adapt their teaching styles to the new technology. They give more time for independent research and work and spend more time in class trying to connect with students individually to guide and assess. However, some teachers do not want a dramatic change in their teaching style. They still expect students to keep a paper notebook, and submit certain types of assignments on paper, but still like the idea that other assignments can be submitted electronically.

Finding a balance between appropriate times to use devices has been a challenge for teachers. Some teachers have use technology for online calendars, recorder videos, and accessible notes and classroom materials. Using technology for software programs to enhance learning has also been a common use of technology in the classrooms. Still, some aspects of the classroom cannot be taught online. Situations like solving an equations or building communities to lower stress and increases support in unfamiliar topics to students.