The movement toward a one-to-one computing environment—that is, one device for every child—soon will be moot, says Phil Emer, director of technology planning and policy for The Friday Institute, which is housed within North Carolina State University. “The truth is, we’re going to blow through one-to-one. Right now, we might have four kids to one machine, but two years from now, we’ll have one-to-four. That is, one kid to four devices.”

That might not seem possible for schools to manage or support—but to remove some of the burden, schools should considering stopping the practice of doing certain things locally and do them online instead, Emer says.

“Why run your own eMail service now?” he says. “Have Microsoft or Google run it, [and] save a bunch of money. Get out of the business of running eMail servers and domain control servers and servers that run your finance systems. There are services available now that do that very well, very inexpensively—and big enterprises use them. So why don’t [schools] use them and free up time and money, and invest that money in devices?”

Another key shift is that telecommunications companies are no longer in the business of selling and managing wireline or even wireless telephone service. They’re in the business of wireless data networks. “We can talk about my iPhone being a phone, but it’s really an eMail device, a phone device, an internet device,” Emer says.