When it comes to the benefits of 1:1 tablet-to-student learning, many educators are sold.
But in reality, we can’t always count on that ratio. Tablets break; wireless networks don’t work; or tablets somehow “disappear.” That’s why Learningpod posed the question, “What do I do if I don’t have enough tablets to go around?”
Lori Ramsey, a senior research associate with Metis Associates devotes her days to educational research. She states, “In practice, I have seen teachers take many different approaches if they don’t have a full set of 1:1 devices. Some teachers like to have students rotate through stations where students work individually on devices (1:1) for a portion of their day, while some like to have students work in small groups sharing devices while they complete a particular task, project, or activity. This means that not all students are doing the same thing at the same time.”
Adds Lori, “The types of activities I have observed students engage in [without tablets] vary and include such things as creating a lab report on a science experiment, creating a presentation on a social studies topic, creating a video to teach others how to complete an activity, working on a math program, writing a paper and [for lower grades] practicing handwriting and drawing.”
We also heard from Frances Newsome-Lange, a social studies curriculum writer with the New York City Department of Education. Frances comments, “I’ve used a 1:2 ratio (iPads to students) in K-5 in ELA and social studies. Pairs work best since they can trade off easily. Larger groups are problematic. I’ve switched to 1:1 when we received more iPads and find that some students still prefer the 1:2.”
Research shows that learning can be enhanced when students work in pairs on one device.
Cheryl Sizemore, a lead technology teacher at Valley Christian Schools in San Jose, California, has taught with less than a 1:1 ratio for several years. Cheryl sometimes pairs students and may also split the group. “I meet with half the class while the other half has screen time. I have found this to be a good compromise. I can also coordinate with a teammate to get a 1:1 ratio when I need it. It helps to be using Google Docs since students can access their work from any device.”
Given that 1:1 devices aren’t always available, the point would be to have students working in a variety of modalities to meet their learning needs.