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Business and Tech Education

One-to-One: A Call for a Computer for Every Student


Sarah Hanawald, M.Ed.

Chief Executive Officer, One-to-One Institute

We are at the beginning of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” a time of relentless change with rapid fusion of physical and digital technology across industries. Present-day students will have to be nimble digital learners throughout their careers. Currently, some schools provide all students with computers, Chromebooks, or tablets, while others have only classroom sets, or worse, ancient, largely unused computer labs. How do we get from this state of digital inequity to one where all students have access to the technology resources they need to build the skills essential to their futures?


Good news – we’re making progress. The EducationSuperHighway has succeeded in connecting nearly every public school in the United States to the internet with high-speed broadband. Digital learning resources abound; some are free, others costly. Students can take single courses or complete degree programs online. What about quality? Resources such as ”Planning for Quality: A Guide for Continuous Improvement of Digital Learning Programs”, published by the Digital Learning Collaborative, can help.

With this abundance of connectivity and resources, the glaringly obvious missing piece is access. We must provide equal access to computing and digital resources to every secondary school student in the United States as soon as possible. There’s more to it than just handing out computers at the school door. Teachers and students need to use the technology effectively and creatively. Failed initiatives waste money and time and can even move education backwards.

The Project RED research (co-authored by One-to-One Institute) illuminates a pathway for schools and districts to successfully implement one-to-one technology programs that can dramatically improve education. The researchers studied 997 schools to determine what characteristics made a difference in quality programs. They found key outcomes of successful one-to-one programs that are published on the website.

What can one-to-one programs provide?

High quality one-to-one programs are linked to education success (improved test scores, higher graduation rates, increased college attendance, and improved student engagement) and these schools outperform all other schools, includingother one-to-one schools.

Effectively implemented technology can save money, with cost savings in areas from textbook acquisition to paper and copying costs.

What makes a one-to-one program a high quality program?

  • A school principal who capably leads change and inspires teachers.
  • Teachers who use technology to better understand student learning and adjust instruction based on the information.  
  • Students, teachers, and administrators who leverage online collaboration platforms to improve communication and productivity.
  • Teachers who use technology to enable learning experiences impossible without technology.
  • Schools that use technology daily deliver the best return on investment .

Well-implemented programs, in which every student has a personal, robust device for learning, can increase student learning and open new doors for students. What once was a luxury is now an educational essential.

Sarah Hanawald, M.Ed., Chief Executive Officer, One-to-One Institute, [email protected]

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