Prosys-project-REDIn a previous post, we discussed why K-12 schools are struggling with the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend. BYOD could potentially create distractions and enable cheating, and both parents and teachers have voiced objections. BYOD also adds a massive layer of complexity to already strained IT personnel who have to figure out how to manage, secure and monitor these devices and meet application performance requirements.

One of the primary drivers behind BYOD in K-12 schools is the emergence of 1:1 initiatives. Since the 1990s, there has been a shared goal in American education to provide every student with a computer and Internet access. Today, the focus has shifted from desktop computers to mobile devices. BYOD allows students to use devices that they own, like and understand, which reduces hardware costs and training requirements for the school. However, 1:1 initiatives are about more than technology.

1:1 initiatives allow teachers to tailor learning programs to individual students, who are empowered to use their creativity to solve problems independently or through collaboration with peers. Teachers spend less time lecturing and more time on individual and small group instruction, and the progress of each student is closely monitored to ensure that objectives are being met. In a 1:1 environment, students can move at their own pace and use technology to develop real-world skills that prepare them for the modern workplace.

The One-to-One Institute was created to support the shift to personalized learning by providing all K-12 students with access to technology. Emerging from the enormously successful 1:1 initiative in the state of Michigan, the One-to-One Institute has developed research-based best practices for leading and implementing 1:1 initiatives in terms of both infrastructure and instruction. Consultants and coaches help school districts create programs that allow students to take ownership of their learning.

The One-to-One Institute, along with the Greaves Group and the Hayes Connection, established Project RED (Revolutionizing Education) to accelerate the progress already made as a result of using technology in education, particularly 1:1 initiatives. In 2010, Project RED conducted a national survey of technology programs in approximately 1,000 schools, focusing on the academic and financial impact of education technology. The research found that technology-driven 1:1 programs can improve student outcomes with the right leadership and proper implementation while creating cost savings for the school district.

Project RED Phase II provided school districts with free access to resources, research and educational opportunities so they can learn and share best practices for technology implementation. Last year, Project RED announced Phase III, which involves research focused on student achievement, teacher and student behavior, as well as financial data, in districts that have followed the Project RED implementation model.

Based on its initiatives and research, Project RED offers five general recommendations for improving both learning and financial outcomes:

  • Technology is a must-have. Integrate technology with curriculum to personalize learning.
  • School transformation requires strong leadership throughout the process.
  • Professional learning and effective use of technology must be prioritized by both teachers and administrators.
  • Student engagement and collaboration can be improved through the use of social media, games and simulations.
  • Online assessment data should be used to measure student progress and create personalized learning strategies.

If your school district is planning a 1:1 initiative or is unsatisfied with the results of an existing program, we highly recommend getting involved with Project RED and becoming familiar with their research and best practices. Technology is driving fundamental changes in K-12 education, and success begins with effective technology implementation.

by Edna Zielmanski, National SLED Relationship Manager at ProSys Information Systems