One of the ironies we are seeing at Learning List is that although most publishers are selling online instructional materials, most districts still request materials that are also available in print. Why? These are the three reasons we hear most often:
(1) Schools don’t have the technical infrastructure to enable all students to be online simultaneously;
(2) Teachers are not all on board with or don’t all have the technology skills to teach exclusively with online materials; and
(3) Students do not all have access to broadband at home; if schools adopt only online materials, they may exacerbate the achievement gap.
The federal ConnectEd program and various state initiatives are aiming to address the first challenge by assessing the current status and funding enhancements to districts’ technology infrastructure over the next several years.
Districts are taking aim at the second challenge in different ways. The news is replete with districts rolling out 1:1 initiatives. Presumably, those districts have and are continuing to provide intensive professional development to get their teachers up to speed quickly. Other districts are targeting a longer-term implementation plan. For example, in Houston ISD, superintendent Terry Geer has adopted a plan to implement 1:1 instruction in all of the district’s high schools by 2016.
The third challenge is the most vexing because it is societal, not school-based. Some communities are expanding students’ ability to use online resources outside of school by providing community-wide Internet access, keeping libraries and community centers open later, or creating “hot spots” around them to enable students to do homework there later into the evening. AT&T and Verizon will be leading the effort to expand mobile broadband nationwide while Google and other broadband Internet service providers will continue driving fiber connectivity. What’s your view of 1:1?