Benefits of a 1:1 Laptop Scheme

Recently, our school board asked me  – how can I provide evidence that having a 1:1 scheme benefits our learners and school. If any of you already have a 1:1 laptop scheme running in your school you will realize that this is quite a difficult question to answer.

Some of the benefits listed here are unique to my school (a private profit making international school), which has totally different funding, structure, mission and aims to a state owned school.  Although, our primary mission is to ensure that all our students receive the best possible education and learning environment, which is hopefully the aim of all schools.

Possible Benefits of a 1:1 laptop scheme:

1.     My (Number 1) key benefit is the access to a digital resource at any time 24/7. Learners can take their laptop home, on holiday, use at home when they are sick. For example we have had both students and teachers join lessons and meetings from home via Skype. The student connected to the teacher’s laptop and took part in the class discussions, was able to answer and ask questions from home. In our monthly staff meeting, a teacher who had a broken leg was able to join in the meeting in the same way. If a school has a VLE (virtual learning environment) students can access this learning area from anywhere at any time and complete assignments, answer questions, complete reflections and use pre-chosen teaching resources. The VLE can also be used to improve school communication, not only with students and teachers, but also with parents. Parents can access the VLE, look at their child’s work, add motivating comments, look at their report card and contact the teacher.

2.     The motivation of students, student centered learning, inquiry learning and interactive teaching.  Students want to use digital resources in the classroom; they enjoy the opportunity to have the freedom to carry out their own research, write their own assignments and to be creative using their own laptop. They can choose which application they want to use to complete their assignments, rather than using pen and paper. They can produce a presentation, record a movie, make an animation, record a speech, and design a poster. The key here is for the teacher to suggest a task, but allow the student to choose the application for completing the task (students define their own success criteria). For example if a learner has to create a presentation, they could choose to do it through, Key notes, PowerPoint, a movie, a radio speech, or an animation to name but a few examples. Many schools are also moving to each learner having their own Blog, this can be very motivating for the learner, when other people comment on the learners blog, they are encouraged to write more and develop their blog further.

3.     Differentiation for the student. Linked to the previous 2 benefits, learners can have access to differentiated resources and complete tasks at their own learning speed and level. For example if a VLE has been constructed properly, it should allow learners to select tasks and resources at their own level and ability. They can complete the tasks, which they feel capable of completing and at their own speed. They can refer back to their tasks at home and revisit the class information at anytime and anywhere. Allow the students to be creative, some learners will be motivated to create an essay written in Word, some would prefer to record the information in a movie or design a poster with Photoshop. As long as the learner covers the success criteria for the lesson, how they complete the task should be their own choice.

4.     Collaboration, the sharing of ideas and information. Collaboration and the sharing of ideas is the key to success of any organisation and a skill required by all our learners today. The use of Messenger, iChat, Skype, Twitter and Facebook all have a role in sharing and disseminating information. Our students already know how to use these applications and on a daily basis share a vast amount of information. Having a 1:1 laptop scheme enables the student to use these communication tools in the classroom. Some good examples of digital collaboration and sharing ideas include in a humanities lesson the ability to connect with another school on the other side of the world through Skype to share cultural ideals and beliefs. Collaboration in the classroom by using Prezi-Meeting, where learners can form a group and create online presentations, by sharing ideas and resources.

(Now for the non-learning benefits) Many of you may criticize me for mentioning these benefits, but they are factual and true.

5.     Marketing and school market differentiation, we are an Apple school and in our market we are seen as offering something that is unique, exciting and innovative compared to our competitors. Each learner from Year 6 through to Year 10 (grade 5 to 9) is part of the 1:1 Macbook Pro Laptop Scheme. The school uses this fact in its marketing, in local and international press and is a key factor to attracting learners to our school. We have had several students move from other local schools to our school because of the 1:1 Laptop scheme and the style of teaching that is linked to the scheme.

6.     No more Computer Labs. All our learners are required to purchase their own laptop, the school provides the wireless network structure for the laptops to connect to, but this cost in the long run is lower than paying for several computer labs in a school. The 1:1 laptops are covered by a 3-year warranty included in the package and fees that the learner has to pay for. The school provides a help desk and support to maintain the laptops, it also provides training for the teachers, all of this can be covered by the fee for the 1:1 laptop scheme, taking the capital and expense costs away from the school. I appreciate that this may not be so easy to achieve for a state run and funded school.

If your administrators, governors, directors are asking will a 1:1 scheme increase academic achievement, test results, exam passes, then maybe they are asking the wrong questions and have little understanding of our learners and the world today. It is hoped that by providing effective learning and the digital resources to aid learning that academic achievement and passing tests with naturally occur. However, tests and exam results are only one important part of the educational system and that other factors should be considered by providing a creative and stimulating environment where our students can learn the skills required to be life long learners.

written by Steven David Pearce 4/12/2010


Implementing a 1:1 Laptop Scheme

There are many ways to implement a successful 1:1 laptop scheme, below is a list of areas to consider. Each school, college, educational establishment will have its own factors, special areas to consider, below is my list of things to consider.

After the list below, I have included a paragraph of information related to my own specific experience of implementing a very successful Apple Macbook Pro 1:1 scheme. It should also be noted that my school charges an additional fee for the 1:1 laptop, on top of school fees.

Areas to consider:

  • Employ an innovative, knowledgeable, supportive, IT Technical Manager + team
  • Test the system first (wireless) if possible – start with a few laptop trolleys to share on a bookable system. Try them all on the system at the same time in different locations around your school. Install a manageable wireless system (Aruba or similar) where bandwidth can be controlled.
  • Train your staff, have a continuous program of In Service Training for all staff including administrators and managers. Try to have 2 training sessions on at the same time (Beginner and Advanced). Also provide training sessions for parents.
  • Try to get your supplier to pay (sponsor) for some or all of the training (try Apple 1:1 scheme) some of the branded laptop companies have dedicated educational departments – get in touch with them.
  • Ensure your laptop image has all the applications required by the learners and all the subject teachers in your school.
  • Open a 1:1 shop and dedicated help desk on site; again approach your laptop supplier for this. Try to get an Authorized Technician to run the shop/help desk.
  • Publish times when parents and students can visit the IT department in school. Have the dedicated shop – open at times convenient for parents.
  • Train student mentors to help around the school with IT innovation and ideas.
  • Ensure Cyber safety is a key feature of the 1:1 scheme – have posters, online information’s sites, Cyber safety assemblies, and Cyber safety lessons.
  • Design a practical AUP (Acceptable Use Policy) Write the policy in two different ways (one for high school and one for elementary/primary school) Fit the AUP on ONE PAGE! of A4.
  • Involve the Parents in all the stages of the 1:1 implementation; listen to their ideas, concerns and worries.
  • Produce an FAQ booklet and publish this and other documentation on the school website.
  • Produce a Learner Handbook covering all areas of the 1:1 scheme.
  • Employ an IT integrator
  • Recruit IT skilled teachers
  • Try to combine an Insurance and warranty package with the 1:1 laptop.
  • Insist on the same “type” of laptops for everyone. Using Apple Macbooks/ Macbook Pro makes this easier as they provide a generic, standardized product, with integrated, interlinked, applications etc (However, we provide a dual platform on the Macbook’s using Virtual Box for Windows in addition to the Apple platform)
  • Consider providing laptops for employed teachers’ students. If you have a teacher with 2, 3 or 4 children in your school its unlikely that you will keep them or recruit new teachers, if they have to buy 4 laptops! (we are an International School)
  • Provide a laptop for all teachers and administrators.
  • Sell the 1:1 scheme as a package – this includes maintaining and cleaning, re-imaging, warranty, insurance, laptop loan when in repair, stolen or lost software, problem solving help desk, teacher training….etc

Nexus 1:1 Apple Macbook Pro Scheme

Please do not…………….

For High School (Secondary School) – Do not restrict access to anything on the Internet for your students. Instead educate them to be responsible digital citizens and enforce the AUP (do restrict downloads at school, restrict to educational use only). Give sanctions to students who do not follow the AUP. Educate, Educate, Educate. If teachers make the lessons engaging, learners will not be tempted to play games and surf the net etc. I believe in not restricting anything, because as soon as they leave the school gates they will not be monitored and will have to learn to be socially responsible. For elementary learners we restrict 1:1 laptop use at break and lunchtimes, however senior students can use laptops all day.

My School – The Nexus International School, Putrajaya, Malaysia

It took a full year to properly plan the implementation of the 1:1 scheme. The first stage was to visit other schools in the region (South East Asia) who already had a 1:1 scheme. The second stage involved finding a suitable supplier, Apple were helpful, but to find a good, supportive Apple supplier was not easy. The third stage was to involve parents and to produce a detailed FAQ booklet to answer all their questions and concerns.

Part of the success of the 1:1 scheme at my school was due to the use of Macbook Laptop Trolley’s for 1 year before the 1:1 scheme was introduced. The school provided bookable laptop trolleys for the whole school, these trolleys are still in operation for the younger year groups and groups not in the 1:1 scheme. Because the school had the Macbook trolley’s both learners and teachers were already trained and experienced in using the Macbook laptops. Therefore when we actually implemented the 1:1 scheme, everyone was already experienced in using the laptops (everyone knew how to use an Apple Macbook)

Another positive point of the 1:1 scheme is that we first implemented it to grades 5 to 8 (Year 6 to 9).  Because of its success, other year groups wanted to join the 1:1 scheme, so within 6 months we added grade 9 (Year 10). Other year groups may also be considered in the near future.

We have an Authorized Apple shop on our school campus, this has been popular as it sells accessories and provides maintenance, insurance and deals with all warranty issues.

These points are the key areas to successful implementation in our school. If you are a school or educational establishment who would like some information or to visit the Nexus International School, please send me an email.

***something to consider for our next phase is an iPad 1:1 scheme – especially for the younger learners***

written by Steven David Pearce 25/11/2010

1:1 Laptop Schemes – 21st Century Digital Natives

1:1 Laptop Schemes – 21st Century Digital Natives (link to original article)

“21st Century Digital Natives” is a phrase that has been used in education for several years; Marc Prensky (2001) first coined the term digital native to refer to today’s students. They are native speakers of technology, fluent in the digital language of computers, video games, and the Internet. By introducing a 1:1 laptop scheme, schools can capture the interest of these “digital natives” and enhance learning and academic outcomes.

As educators, part of our role is to ensure that students now have access to 21st Century learning in order to become competitive graduates and be prepared for a 21st Century working and personal life. In order to address this, an increasing number of schools have decided to introduce a 1:1 laptop programme. This means that students have the use of their own laptop in every lesson and at home – 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week, in an environment where both learners and teachers have access to digital content, educational software, and digital authoring tools. This has sometimes been referred to as A3 computing – Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere.

1:1 at the Nexus International School


The research literature indicates that there are 5 key benefits for a school that implements a successful 1:1 laptop program. These benefits are:

1.     Improving learner academic achievement through the use of 1:1 technology. This includes the development of higher order learning skills and meta-cognitive thinking.

2.     Assuring equity in access to digital resources so that every child has access at all times.

3.     Preparing learners for their future which will be increasingly digital at university and in work and social life.

4.     Enhancing teaching and transforming the quality of teaching. This includes the motivation of students, student centred learning, inquiry learning (leading to more independent learners) and interactive teaching.

5.     Improving the communication between learner, parent and teacher by use of VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) and peer to peer/parent/teacher mentoring.

Current research related to the role of a 1:1 laptop program in schools shows generally positive results when implemented well. A recent report by Jenifer O. Corn, PhD (2009) on the 1:1 program in USA schools found the following areas of improvements in student learning and achievement:

  • Student engagement increased. The use of laptops for teaching and learning increased student engagement. Students showed an increased interest in school if teachers used laptops in lessons. There was also increased sustained behavioural involvement, positive emotional tone and greater effort and concentration by students who used a laptop.
  • Students’ 21st Century skills increased. There was shown to be an increase in the use of and development of 21st Century skills by the students which included higher levels of responsibility, self direction, communication skills, creativity, problem solving, information literacy skills and collaboration. These are all highly valued workplace skills.
  • Student attendance rates across 1:1 schools were very high in comparison to non 1:1 schools.
  • Student participation in external online courses increased. This enabled schools to broaden their curriculum to include courses that were not offered by the school.

However, it is important to remember that the introduction of a 1:1 laptop scheme can only be part of the successful learning environment of any school. It is crucial that face-to-face instruction and practical development/experiences of children still take place, especially in the early years of learning. Each learner should be allowed to customize their laptop so that the computer becomes an extension of the students’ personal self and brain, increasing ownership and engagement. In addition, considerable planning, infrastructure and, most importantly, teacher training is required to make such a scheme work.

written by Steven David Pearce 10/11/2010

Learning, Learners and International Schools

Learning, Learners and International Schools

I was surprised recently by the number of international schools that are still focusing on teaching rather than learning. Having returned from a conference in Kota Kinabalu with over 900 Administrators, Heads, and Educational Leaders it was evident that content driven learning and classroom power is still in the control of the teacher and not the learner. Of course there were a few schools that have actually realized that what we learn, how we learn and when we learn is in the hands of the learner (our students).  Learning is the responsibility of the learner – we can guide them, facilitate them and teach them how to learn using the right tools, knowledge and experience. The article published by “Chris Watkins” Research Matters – Learning, Performance and Improvement 2010, reinforces some of my own personal beliefs about education and I believe is well worth reading.

In one of the Keynote speeches during the conference, an elderly School Principal came and sat next to me – the Keynote speaker was talking about motivating our learners. The School Principal then turned to me and whispered in my ear “ all we want is for the little buggers to sit still and keep quiet!” I said nothing to him, just smiled in return. However, I was horrified by his remark, was this really a Principal of an International School today?

In another seminar at the same conference there was another High School Principal talking about examination success, he was describing how his teachers achieve excellent exam grades using content driven lessons, drill and practice and that this was the whole point of his educational organization, to churn out students who could repeat the answer to questions, who knew content, but had very little knowledge or skills of how to use that content as long as they could get into University. In the “Chris Watkins” article he states two key areas that are worth considering:

1.     to recognize that passing tests is not the goal of education, but a by-product of effective learning

2.     to recognize that even when we want pupils to do their best in tests, pressure and performance orientation will not achieve it.

The example I have given above, I am sure is fairly extreme and schools are often influenced by many factors, like society, parents and University requirements. However, I believe that if we use AFL strategies, formative assessment, co-construction, inquiry and investigative-based pedagogies in the classroom and allow our learners to learn and give them the right tools to do that, that effective learning will bring about educational results. Our learners will pass the necessary test to gain entry to higher education and have the skills to continue their own learning to a higher level at University and beyond.

written by Steven David Pearce 10/11/2010

VLE – Virtual Learning Environments

Virtual Learning Environments (link to original article)

In today’s society it is increasingly evident that education and in particular students are using more digital platforms and technologies as tools for learning. In order for educational systems to adapt to these differing learning styles and modern trends it is necessary for these systems to look at different teaching pedagogies. Over the past few years there has been a significant increase in the number of educational establishments who have taken on board a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) in addition to the traditional learning environment to assist students with their learning and adopt a more modern teaching pedagogy.

A VLE works through the Internet, providing an online platform for education.  It provides a variety of tools with which both teachers and students can use for instruction and learning. Some of the key benefits of using a VLE include:

1.     Administration: Educators can track student engagement in learning; a VLE can monitor the learners’ progress, provide valuable feedback and group students into collaborative learning areas.

2.     Reflection and Discussion: Learners can develop collaborative peer learning areas by using forums, discussion boards and peer-to-peer critiques. Students have the ability to self evaluate and reflect on their own work and others, thus developing metacognitive or ‘learn to learn’ skills.

3.     Assessment:  Learners can self-mark and complete online quizzes, tests, educators can post online assignments for students to complete and, once completed, they can collate them through the VLE.

4.     Support: Learners are provided with links to specific web sites to assist with extension activities. Help forums and Wikis can be developed and are available to students at all times.

5.     Access: Learners are encouraged to access the VLE at anytime; 24 hours a day from any location, provided there is Internet access. This provides the opportunity for distance learning and enables the learners to take more control over their own learning.

Modern advances in technology have given the opportunity for educational establishments to facilitate VLEs and develop virtual personal learning areas through the use of e-portfolios.  This means greater learning for all students by providing better opportunities for personal learning and differentiation.

There is also evidence to suggest that combining both a virtual learning platform with current teaching pedagogies (such as Assessment For Learning techniques) develops cognitive learning in that the learner takes on a more active role in the acquisition of knowledge. A VLE provides opportunity for a greater level of student centered learning as it enables the learners to discover knowledge on their own and at their own pace. For example students can access “WebQuests” through a Virtual Learning Environment. A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented lesson format in which most or all the information that learners work with comes from the web.  Educators can create the WebQuest tailored specifically for a particular group of learners and ensure that the content is secure and engaging. Once completed, learners can upload their assignment through the VLE for evaluation by the educator.

In a recent publication, the UK inspection agency said that “Virtual Learning Environments enhance learning, giving learners the opportunity to reinforce aspects of their work as well as the chance to catch up on missed material” (Virtual learning environments: an evaluation of their development in a sample of educational settings. OFSTED 2009). At Nexus, we are confident that our use of KnowledgeNET will provide an additional flexible learning resource that will help to enrich the curriculum for all age groups and improve the overall learning experience. Learners will be given the freedom to learn, when, where and how they choose, through active learning beyond the traditional classroom environment, including the involvement of parents and experts from the wider community.

written by Steven David Pearce 23/1/2010

Digital Resources in the Classroom

Click here for the original WORD document – Digital Resources for the Classroom

Today’s youth spends up to 6hrs a day online using digital resources. Try using some or all of these digital applications in the classroom.

Shared Prezi’s in the classroom for collaborative presentations
Podcasting weekly news letters from senior managers and subject departments as well as student podcasts
Digital e-portfolios – Learners can create and showcase their best work
Blogs for reflection, assignments, motivation and world collaboration

e-Publishing and iBooks – Learners can create and publish their own stories and books

Learning through creative media – iMovies and animation

Publishing on Youtube, using Youtube and TeacherTube constructively in lessons

Online education – more students are learning from home. Also course could be offered that the school does not have resources for.

Wikis for collaborative learning and sharing.

Shared Google docs, sketch-up, Picnik, Picasa, Blogger, Calendar, Page Creator – Educational Searches

Classroom activities, discussion, collaboration –Posters, dates, school info, reading lists, links

Individual Personalised Year Books