Top 10 Tips to Explore when Thinking about Creating a One-to-One Technology Program

It’s the new wave – schools are going one to one with technology. Meaning, every student and every teacher has a device. I have created a program at my current school – The Dunham School in Baton Rouge, La. I only wish that I would have had some tips from someone who had already traveled down this road. Please use the tips below as you see fit. My best advice comes from a friend – this will be a journey, but it will be well-worth it!

(1) Mission
What is the mission of your school? How does technology fit with that mission? The worse thing that can happen is that the school’s mission is compromised due to technology. Be sure that you understand your mission and that your technology program compliments your mission. If something happens as a result of technology that doesn’t fit your mission, do something about it. Don’t wait until next year!

(2) Vision
What is it that you want to do? Where do you see the school in a year? three years? five years? Yes, small details of the program are very important. However, you must look at the program with a bird’s eye view. You need to see into the future and know what you want to happen. Be realistic – technology equals money and in schools those funds must be there in order to spend it!


(3) Strategic Planning 
Just like anything else you start, you need a plan. It is best for this plan to be written by a team. The plan needs to include a current assessment and inventory of technology, major goals, action steps, benchmarks and evidence. The more time you spend planning on the front end, the more you will thank yourself later.  A plan also communicates a clear vision for the program.

(4) Professional Development
One of the biggest mistakes I notice with schools is that they purchase equipment and do a brief initial training for teachers. Would you give the keys of your car to a teen who just received their license and let them cruise the streets? No! Professional development is ongoing. It is individualized. People are needed with flexible schedules need to be dedicated to helping the teachers be successful with the technology. These are not just warm bodies – they are actual teachers who understand how to implement technology using the SAMR model.

(5) Instructional Practices
All students now have computers. How will this change instructional practices? What instructional practices does the administration want to encourage or discourage? Will all textbooks move to e-books. I strongly recommend against moving to e-books for the sake of moving. Teachers need to review the textbooks and the e-books and compare/contrast the benefits and pitfalls of each. How will assessments change? If your school is planning to standardize test using computers, then assessments in class must occasionally be electronic.

(6) Policies
What will be the expectations now that technology is at the fingertips of all students? Schools that adopt a 1 to 1 program, usually write an Acceptable Use Policy. This policy is signed by students and parents at the beginning of each year. It is also reviewed with students. Click here for an example. Each year, the policies are revised to ensure that the technology program follows the mission of the school. Policies are also needed for employees. Just like students, they need to know what is acceptable and not acceptable.

It is also important to think about funding when discussing policies. The truth is that technology budgets will not decrease with a one to one program. In fact, they increase! Will you finance the purchase? Will students pay a fee for the technology? Will this fee be yearly or one-time? What will it include? Remember a value must be added when a fee is added. The value is not simply the computer – it is the instruction and learning that takes place as a result of the computer.

(7) Building a Culture
One to one technology changes the way a school looks – ultimately changing the culture. It is up to administrators and the strategic team to determine how the culture will look. Administrators must model the use of technology by USING it! I hear teachers complain – how can they expect me to do this and they don’t even know how to do it. Change will only be successful as much as people who are part of it want it to be.

(8) Support
You can create everything on paper, and it looks great! However, how will your teachers and students get the support they need? Where will teachers go if something isn’t working or if they want something on the student computers? I strongly recommend a support center that is open during school hours and is solely there to help people. Keep in mind that a college student is a prefect low paying person for this job! There needs to be a warm body who understands the basics and greets people with a smile! I like to remind help desk folks that they only have a job because the students and teachers have computers – so be friendly, we are in the business of customer service and want people to visit!


(9) Communication
How will you communicate the details of the one to one program to your community? You can NEVER communicate enough. Send home a note in mail, an email, and post on the website. Conduct meetings so parents feel informed about the new program. We want their minds at ease and their questions answered. Post pictures on social media outlets letting parents know that teachers are being trained on how to implement technology into the curriculum.  The ultimate goal of communication is get parent buy-in and to share the value of the program.

(10) Deployment
Now that you have written your strategic plan, purchased the equipment, established a tech center, and created a plan for communication, how are you going to get the computers in the hands of teachers and students? This part of the planning is very important because it can be the most time consuming. Depending on your infrastructure, all computers may need to be touched. It is recommended that technology staff make a list of everything they need to do in order to be ready for deployment day! They also need time to test and make sure that everything works correctly. A timeline with details is very helpful to create before the deployment process. One of the biggest nightmares that I didn’t plan for was the trash that comes along with new computers. My maintenance staff was not happy!

Motivate and listen to your students with a language they know and understand – Emojis!

👁 💚💜❤️ my 👦👧!

unnamedThe emoticon: more than a face

“Although an emoticon may look like a smile, a frown or any number of facial expressions, it doesn’t represent a face, as many internet users assume. It’s actually intended to convey a feeling (“I’m happy,” or “just joking”).” – Lauren Collister

In 2015, Oxford Dictionaries named “emoji” the word of the year. Emoji is a Japanese word – e “picture” plus moji “letter character.” Emojis are used by all ages to express feelings, thoughts, frustration, hopes and more!  People communicate in this accepted language. With that said, it is time for educators to motivate students by using emojis in the classroom. Let’s talk their language and get them excited about learning.

Ways to Use Emojis with your Students

There are tons of ways to use emojis with your students. Here are some ideas to try in your classroom.

Exit Tickets / Lesson Reflections: Encourage students to reflect by having them complete an exit ticket when the lesson is over. By using emojis, students can express their feelings about what they learned. Did they understand? Do they need more help? These exit tickets will give you insight to their understanding.

Group Reflections: Have students complete an emoji group reflection when they have completed a group project.

Behavior Reflections: Is a student having a hard time listening? Speak their language by having them complete an emoji behavior reflection.

Quotes: Have students translate quotes from a book or historical time period using emojis.