Mobile Communication for Educating Students, do we need 1:1 now?

The pros and cons of mobile communication devices like the ipad, ipod touch, cell phone, and many others have been thoroughly thought about by some, but the majority of the American population does not even spend a moment to think about the effects their devices are having upon them.  One of these tools is an application called Proloquo2Go.  This application is designed to assist all people in their language development from those beginning to speak to advance communicators.  The application helps learners to expand their vocabulary and increase their literacy level in communication.


I included this application because I can imagine a program like this that is in the hands of every learner having a profound impact on their literacy, their chances at obtaining a college education, and their ability to form connections in a world where “networking” is becoming increasingly vital.  With the call for 1:1 device to student ratios, the 1:1 device to student debate is certainly relevant and I would argue that 1:1 device to student ratios are necessary to improve the economic equality in our nation and provide increased educational opportunity for all students.

So far I have listed the positive side of the argument, and the benefits increasing mobile communication devices into our educational system to the point of a 1:1 ratio.  However, there are challenges and negative aspects to starting the 1:1 movement now.  For one, there has not yet been a significant enough amount of research put towards understanding whether mobile devices serve to increase instrumental learning, relational learning, student performance, student focus, and the mindset of students.  The research we do have has found that student motivation and engagement generally have a positive increase with 1:1 technology implementations.  The University of Georgia Southern conducted a study on the effects of 1:1 computing devices in the classroom and mentioned particularly that there was no significant increase in test scores between a control group and a treatment group.  This study is significant because it displays the challenge facing 1:1 supporters in that there is not enough research out yet that displays an essential need for moving to a 1:1 device to student system.  Another difficulty comes in realizing that many students will have no idea how to use their devices for educational advancement and growth at first.  Students often become very distracted by their devices and this can have detrimental effects on their learning.  I remember being in a webmaster class where almost the entire class was playing first person shooters instead of doing their work clearly technology allowed students to finish projects sooner, but they were not doing their best!  They were settling for meeting the requirements and that was all.  Devices are a double edged sword you love them because of the opportunity they provide students to go beyond their circumstances and explore the world, but you hate them because they can be extremely distracting, and can cause students to check the box that their work is complete, and then checkout.  Or worse, students will check out before they even complete their work, and get distracted.

Connecting the world in learning or distraction from growth?

Connecting the world in learning or distraction from growth?

My Verdict: I by no means am an expert on the 1:1 device debate, but I think all students should be given access to devices, but we need to proceed with immense caution and be sure that students are using mobile devices in ways that enhance their learning, increase productivity, and build upon the learning that takes place with their teacher, so they can explore topics of interest to them in their schoolwork.



  1. I think your opinion on the 1:1 ratio is very justifiable. I am definitely a supporter of using devices in the classroom. I think when used appropriately, they can be very beneficial to student learning especially when our society is becoming increasingly technology-driven. However, the teacher does need to be aware that not all students will know how to use the devices, which could then have a negative impact on their learning. Many some instructional time for using the particular device would be beneficial before jumping right in and using it during a lesson.

    What do you think about devices being used in the various grade levels? Should it start as young as preschool and kindergarten? Also, should devices be used more or less in the upper grades versus the lower grades? I don’t have a lot of experience with kids as young as preschool, but I do know that kids in kindergarten are capable of learning how to use iPads. Some students I have worked with at that age taught me things when using iPads. I think kids know more than we think when it comes to using various devices.


    1. From now on, I will try not to respond separately, but Shelby I think the research seems to be showing that teachers are often inadequately prepared at the elementary level to teach students using technology. In a study of elementary teachers in rural settings researchers found that the preparation of teachers to use technology was often inadequate for the support of student work with cutting edge technology(Howley,Wood,Hough,2011). I think that devices could potentially be used with ages as young as kindergarten, but teachers need to develop skills to support students at that age with technological devices and at the present time there does not seem to be enough prepared teachers to employ devices on a 1:1 level at the younger grade levels. How do you think iPads could be used in an upper elementary classroom to expand learning and not just allow students to do things faster?


  2. I agree with you that teachers need to embrace technology. It is so much a part of everyday life that students need to be taught how to use effectively. Most of the articles and research I have seen done are in middle school and high school. What do you think about technology in a fourth or lower class? Or other words when is too young to embrace technology in the classroom?


    1. I think in a culture where technology is a part of life so early on teaching with technology should reflect the culture and enhance the lifestyles of children. Teachers should be showing students ways to use technology to expand upon their learning as early as kindergarten. I do not think the 1:1 ratio is necessary below 4th grade on a daily basis, but I think school districts should have some system to expose younger students to technology use in ways that can teach them to utilize technology for their learning and to create with technology things that may be impossible to create without it. Research has particularly stressed the importance of teaching about technology well in order for it to have positive effects on learning in urban elementary settings(Yolanda, Waxman, Lee et al.,2012). It is especially important in mathematics for students to develop technology literacy. What do you think technology literacy means for your subject area? What grad do you think is too young to teach with technology devices?


      1. Technology is pushed in elementary classes as well I think we are more dealing with having a couple of i pad or something like that in the school. I do agree with you that students don’t need daily access to technology under fourth grade. Personally I don’t think that there really shouldn’t be technology in kindergarten classrooms. Then I think that students should be exposed to technology in a controlled matter like in specials class. I think a lot people assume that young children just know how to use it and they don’t.

        Then my subject area is math. I have seen some wonderful things with math and technology. I done some amazing things in like geometry that I wouldn’t have been able to do it without technology. I have also seen some good resources like wolfram alpha that are wonderful tools.

        Schools mostly use censoring to control what students can see and do in the classroom. My question would be what do you think should be censored (beyond the obvious)? More specifically do you think a website like wolfram alpha be censored in schools.


    2. Then, the question becomes one of outcomes (i.e., do they improve learning) enough to invest heavily in both purchase and professional development.


  3. Kevin, I agree with you that teachers are not prepared to use technology in the classroom. Our professor brought up a point that interested me during our class meeting. A lot of times, teachers think they are using technology successfully, when really, what they are doing is something that could be done with a pencil and paper. Technology needs to be used to enhance learning. I think in the upper level grades students could use iPads for networking and blogging. I like the idea of having students share their work to a personal blog or a classroom blog and then other students can comment and critique. In high school, we often provided our peers with feedback and comments, and I think we could use technology to make this process more innovative and effective. I also like the idea of having students in high school connect with other students from various schools, in particular, other areas of the world. I think this would be a neat way to learn about other cultures.

    In response to Sara, I don’t think it is too young to embrace technology in a Kindergarten classroom. I don’t think the 1:1 ratio is neccessary, but there are so many apps and learning games that can be found on an iPad. At this age, just developing a feel for using technology would be beneficial to students. In Special Ed classrooms, technology can be a means of communication that some students need to rely on. I would use it less in the lower grades and more in the upper grades. How would you use technology in the lower grades?


  4. Obviously I have not been in a lot of elementary school classrooms. What we are taught to expect is that there will probably be a couple of i pads or computers in the classroom. They are there usually with educational apps or maybe games. The reason why I think it is that way is young students need to just learn how to use technology. There were a couple of computers in the classroom at my placement in a second grade classroom. Some of them had no trouble getting on the computer and get whatever they needed done. However there was a good chunk of them who needed a lot of help. I had to do basic things for them for time’s sake like just type something in for them. That is why I don’t think that 1:1 technology is appropriate for grades lower than fourth. They need those computer classes to teach the basics that most people think kids already know.

    My opinion on not having technology in kindergarten is simply mostly preference. I think they are still a little too young to get the full value of how technology can help them. They don’t have the attention spans and aren’t developed enough to be able to play on the educational apps and things. However I don’t see a problem maybe having one ipad in the classroom and having some computer classes.


  5. I think an important thing to remember in this discussion is that student’s often learn by experience. I think having some technological devices in elementary school can be a powerful way for students to explore their questions and unique ideas. There definitely is a learning curve in teaching about technology use, and making technological devices a part of a student’s class time, but I think having devices for student’s to access at the beginning of the day and maybe at the end of class periods seems beneficial. How do you think a few devices could be used by all of the students without disrupting class time? Maybe a teacher could use table groups and have students rotate through for a lesson and one group could be the technology group and they explore the concept like multiplication or square roots using technology! What concepts can you think of that technology could be easily used to enhance student learning in elementary school?

    I do not think that censoring student’s off of tools like wolfram-alpha is a great idea. Surprisingly, students can learn a lot from a tool like this, and if they are just copying answers from sites like wolfram, then there grades on tests, and their work on in class projects will suffer. Sites like wolfram may help students explore a subject in math more rather than degrade their learning. What do you think about censoring web sites like wolfram Shelby?


    1. I go back and forth between agreeing that sites like wolfram alpha should be blocked. When I first discovered wolfram alpha existed it was a godsend and I used it appropriately to check the work I had already done. Then as I used it more I abused it. The temptation to an easy answer got a little too much sometimes. i was no longer using it appropriately.

      Now I am all for letting students make their own decisions and having them sink or swim. Sometimes you need to get that F on the test in order to learn that you shouldn’t be doing that. Then another part of me is asking myself is it okay to allow students to have that temptation when we have a system that relies heavily on standardized tests.

      The topic of what to censor at a school is a really hard topic for me.


      1. These arguments follow the same path as allowing calculators in the classroom. On one hand, you can do more things from an efficiency standpoint. On the other, students may miss learning skills and become reliant.

        From a ‘cheat’ standpoint, if teachers allow the technology because it allows them to do MORE, they are obligated to create activities that extend beyond what they could do with out it.


  6. I actually have never heard of wolfram alpha until you both mentioned it. From what you mentioned about it, I don’t think students should rely on a site like that. What are you really learning if you are copying information directly from a site?

    As for using iPads in the classroom at the elementary level, I think that is a great idea to have a technology group and do a station type of deal. A special education classroom I volunteer in does research projects. They work in small groups of about three and each group has a computer. I think this is also effective. At such a young age, it isn’t always about teaching content while using technology. Sometimes it also has to be about teaching them how to use the technology as the sole purpose of the lesson. When students share devices, they can learn through colaboration.

    Like Sara said though, in the lower grades, you don’t want to heavily rely on technology because these students typically do have shorter attention spans. It is important to incorporate a variety of exercises and activities into their typical day.


    1. Wolfram alpha is an amazing tool if it is used correctly. That is why I go back in forth about making it available to students.

      Exactly. I didn’t think about that Shelby. The younger students don’t have the attention span to work with technology effectively. I like the idea of having student work in groups with technology. That way they can have the experience but it also give those collaboration skill that they need.


  7. Censorship is definitely a difficult topic to approach. The standardized testing point is a very good one and that is why I think tools like wolfram should be strongly discouraged if students are just finding answers, but what will keep students from using wolfram outside of the class on homework unless teachers are encouraging proper use of the technology.

    Shelby I definitely agree that at younger ages it is not all about teaching content when using technology. Showing students how to use technology well and showing them how to use new resources more effectively could be key to them having fewer distractions when using technology in older grades.

    I thought this article was a great one to bring further topics for our discussion. The effect is still very unclear that increased technology use is having on student performance and learning in the classroom. One of the big questions I have is how can teachers lessen the distraction that 1:1 devices could be for some students? How can we as teachers help older students like 7th grade and up take responsibility for staying on task?


  8. You definitely have to develop some type of grading system to hold students accountable and keep them on task. Whether that means setting a specific due date as to when the assignment needs to be turned in online or monitoring students progress during the activity, the students will need to have some type of structure. Maybe when the students are using their devices, the teachers can set up checkpoints. In my science 225 class, we worked in groups, and the teacher just met with us at various checkpoints. We didn’t use technology in that class, but I would imagine something like that could work for older students.


    1. I agree that the teachers need to check in on students periodically. They don’t even need to do a formal assessment where they grade. More like just look to see if the student is making progress and then move on. That can get time consuming when there are multiple seventh grade classes to check.


    2. The distraction issue is systemic. Look at a staff meeting and see how many teachers will be on their devices, then chastise their students for doing the same. I’m also not foolish enough to know that many of you couldn’t keep your eyes off the screen in front of you at our first class session. My point is to keep in mind that this isn’t a ‘kid’ thing.


  9. I like the idea of having checkpoints a lot! A teacher could set multiple points for students to get to on their way through a lesson or a project. I saw this on display at a flipped classroom at a Creekside Middle School in Zeeland. The teacher used a site called to have students check their understanding of the material she was teaching, and to monitor their progress. Also, she used a program called socrative to have students ask questions anonymously at the beginning of class on their difficulties with homework. What do you guys think about the flipped classroom? I think in classrooms with 1 to 1 devices the flipped class type is extremely beneficial to student learning and provides teachers with more time for developing relational understanding of their students in school.


  10. Personally, I didnt’t love my experience with a flipped classroom. It ended up being the professor just piling on a ton of reading, and then we would get to class and barely even discuss it. Not to say flipped classrooms are bad, I just didn’t love my experience with it! However, I think if a flipped format was the only option, a 1:1 ratio would be very beneficial and efficient!


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