The Future of Learning

1-to-1 Programs Are Critical to Student Success

Camden Haley

Whether you have kids of your own or not, they’re our future. Our doctors and nurses. Our lawmakers and lawyers. Our Supreme Court Justices. And, yes, even our President. That said, their educational success often falls back onto the school district and not the students themselves – and rightfully so. Seriously, have you ever tried to motivate a teenager? It’s not always as easy as you may have been led to believe. And that’s why programs like 1-to-1 are a natural way to help a student remain involved in their learning process.

For those of you unfamiliar with 1-to-1, the idea is simple: every student borrows or owns a notebook, tablet, or device that supports enhanced learning. There are several ways to go about achieving that ratio – discount or government-sponsored programs for schools are at the top of the list. But, cost aside, does 1-to-1 work? One study* found that students with notebooks had better writing skills than those without. Other published studies concentrating on different subjects had the same thing to say about science skills and literacy.

Of course, with success comes planning. Lenovo, who manufactures some of the most highly rated notebooks, tablet, and desktop PCs on the market, weighed in on the subject, saying,** “1-to-1 learning initiatives have proliferated over the past decade. This has created a solid set of lessons learned for IT leaders responsible for planning activities and rolling out supporting infrastructure. By taking advantage of these accumulated insights, IT leaders can more confidently engage in 1-to-1 planning and implementation efforts of their own.”

With that in mind, here are 6 steps to success for your next 1-to-1 initiative:

  • Planning is critical to successful adoption: Connection and Lenovo suggest a full year of pre-planning.
  • Budgeting must account for more than infrastructure: Don’t neglect staff training, support services, or curriculum integration.
  • Optimize infrastructure, minimize maintenance: Standardizing hardware and centralizing IT support pays off.
  • Consider the right computers for your environment: What device is right for your situation; a tablet, a notebook, or something else?
  • Professional development is critical to success: All 1-to-1 initiatives depend on training and professional development for success.
  • District and school policies impact IT approaches: Computer policies should reflect school policies. And let’s not forget about Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) compliance.

And while that list may seem daunting, all of those items are easily achievable – with the right amount of research and attention to detail. Several online resources exist with the sole purpose of lending a hand. To learn more on this topic click here.


  • Bebell, D., & Kay, R. (2010). One to one computing: A summery of the quantitative results from the Berkshire Wireless Learning Initiative. Journal of Technology, Learning, and Assessment, 9(2), 5-57.
  • Dunleavy, M., & Heinecke, W. F. (2007). The impact of 1:1 laptop use on middle school math and standardized test scores. Computers in Schools, 24(3/4), 7-22.
  • Suhr, K. A., Hernandez, D. A., Grimes, D., & Warschauer, M. (2010). Laptops and fourth-grade literacy: Assisting the jump over the fourth-grade slump. Journal of Technology, Learning, and Assessment, 9(5), 4-45.
  • Planning critical to successful adoption,” Lenovo special report, 2012.