Asking the right questions can make all the difference, says a one-to-one pro.

questions-one-to-oneWhen preparing for one-to-one programs, schools today spend too much time thinking about the device and not enough time on why they’re launching a one-to-one program in the first place.

That was one of the key takeaways of a one-to-one themed session given by Ann McMullan–former executive director of educational technology at Klein ISD in Texas who now works as an ed tech consultant–at the Annual CUE 2015 conference in Palm Springs last week.

“If you have the money, ordering the devices is easy,” she said. “The No. 1 challenge is: How do you make life inside today’s classroom relevant to the students’ lives outside the classroom, and prepare them for their tomorrow? We need to think about students being creators of content, not just consumers.”

During the session, McMullan shared 5 “start factors” that she called the keys to success of any one-to-one program as well as the top questions schools should ask themselves.

Next page: 10 questions, in order

Throughout the session, McMullan talked about how preparedness, especially when it comes to teacher training, can make all the difference. “Professional development has to be about more than the device itself,” she said, advocating for ongoing support that is focused more on curricular goals. A proponent of the Future Ready schools movement, she also stressed how it can help motivate schools to take risks and lead when it comes to technology.

“If the world [students] inherit is very different from what we’ve prepared them for in the classroom, that’s not being fair to them,” she said.

McMullan shared 5 start factors that are keys to success for one-to-one programs:

  1. Start with “Why?” What are instructional goals you hope to accomplish?
  2. Start small, think big. “Find some of those teacher leaders and let them try out the devices,” she said. “Find out what the issues are with the network. But do think big; it becomes an equity issue very quickly.”
  3. Start with teachers first. It’s critical.
  4. Start the conversation across all departments.
  5. Do start: Go for it. Failure is part of the learning process.

According to McMullan, here are the top 10 questions schools should ask themselves, and the order they should ask them in:

  1. What is the mission of the district and how does the one-to-one program align with it?
  2. What are instructional goals that will be supported by a one-to-one program?
  3. How will all major departments, selected administrative and teaching staff, parents, and other stakeholders be involved in the planning and implementation of a one-to-one program?
  4. What device will best meet the mission? (“Notice, that’s not the first question,” McMullan said.)
  5. How will the one-to-one program be financed and sustained?
  6. What IT systems need to be in place to support and maintain our one-to-one program(s)? (Here, McMullan shared an anecdote about one district that purchased 20,000 Chromebooks, only to have them sit in boxes because there was no wireless access in classrooms).
  7. How will district and school administrators and board members be prepared to lead and communicate the vision?
  8. What ongoing professional development strategies will be provided?
  9. What LMS are we going to use?
  10. What processes will be in place for making adjustments as needed?