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One to One Learning- does it work?

June 01, 2018

Yes.

I'm not going to provide any evidence to back up that claim. There's lots out there. One-to-one learning with digital devices, when implemented correctly, improves student engagement, enhances critical thinking skills, improves collaboration and gives students access to authentic, real-world learning experiences that are unavailable to most students through any other form of delivery. These statements are all true, and there is significant research to back it.

I'm not going to argue the efficacy of digital, individualised learning because asking "does it work" is the wrong question. From an academic perspective, we should be concerned that the pedagogy used in classrooms is valid and evidence-based. In practice, questions about the effectiveness of using digital devices to teach curriculum miss the real and often unspoken reason for using these devices- work in the real, post-school world is both digital, and one-to-one. Businesses don't agonise over whether their employees should use a computer, or if they do it, whether it should be a shared device or individual. Employees receive what their job requires, and for today's information workers, that usually means a computer, usually a laptop, and a desk phone, and a mobile phone, and maybe a tablet.

Today's workforce is digital and uses individualised tools. The prime pedagogical reason for digital, one-to-one learning is to teach the mental and physical skills required for digital, one-to-one working. Increased engagement is great. Broad and authentic learning experiences are excellent. Real-time collection and analysis of data are useful and potentially transformative. All of those are nice-to-haves. The essential element of digital learning is to teach through use the tools of trade for the workers and entrepreneurs of today and tomorrow. Not engaging in one-to-one digital learning today should be as much of a scandal as not teaching the use of pens, pencils and paper would have been a generation or two ago. Arguments around pedagogy should be on the best way to effectively deliver one-to-one, not if it's needed. It's needed. Now.

I have a prediction- the first year that NAPLAN Online is mandatory will see a drop in scores from schools that have not prepared their students with typing and digital ideation skills from an early age. Schools that were part of the NAPLAN Online trials will do fine. Everyone else will suffer. I also predict that there will be much handwringing around whether NAPLAN should have gone online, but once again, that misses the point. NAPLAN Online will be testing just how ready students are to use modern tools to work in the modern world. The solution to falling scores is not a revision to paper, but a rapid embrace of digital one-to-one learning. Technical and financial issues can be worked through and solved. Pedagogy and curriculum choices can be assessed and made. Professional Learning can be delivered. These are all well-understood problems which can be solved if the will exists to solve them, for every school.

For schools that have not started down this road the time to do so is now. Talk to your colleagues. Talk to your communities, and talk to vendors and solution providers like Apple, Microsoft and us here at New Gauge Digital on the practical journey to implement digital one-to-one learning. There is no going back. Work is digital and increasingly personal. Now. Effective education must also be.



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