21st century teaching, Administration Technology Planning, Connecting, Nets-A, OnetoOne, Online Learning, Professional Development, Tech Leadership

Planning for One to One Laptops and BYOD

If you were taking a long awaited trip, how far in advance would you begin planning? A year, three months, one month?
You’d surely want to make sure that is enjoyable, worthwhile and that your trip is just what you had envisioned. You would plan well in advance.

What if you are implementing new technologies in the classroom? How far in advance would you begin planning? Two years, one year, one month?

If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else. – by Berra, Yogi

If you are going to implement an innovation such as a one to one or bring your own device (BYOD)  it must  be done on purpose and with purpose.

Indeed, some say that if you don’t plan for one to one or mobile access in your schools, it will simply happen to you. Increasing requests and student needs many necessitate it in some cases and the planning won’t have been done.  This scenario is the one most would want to avoid.


Baseball Diamond
The growth of One to One programs is an important educational development. There is substantial research such as found in the Speak Up Survey to tell us that this is an educational technology trend whose time has come,.

One to one programs put the world at our students fingertips. Indeed, they hold lots of promise.

One to One Implementations

There are many districts leading the way such as Van Meter in Iowa. I visited Van Meter in the spring of 2009 and was
immediately taken by the high level of student engagement and easy manner with which the students could describe how one to one expanded their learning. What struck me most however was how both the school’s administrators and teachers easily spoke to the goals for the one to one initiative.   From the superintendent John Carver down to the teachers, such as Shannon Miller, there was a common focus in regards to their goals and direction.   They knew where they were going and why.
Everyone seemed to be on the same digital ‘page’ so to speak. Solid planning clearly had occurred at Van Meter.

If you are thinking of planning a one to one or BYOD  initiative what steps might you take?

Steps for Planning One to One / BYOD


Learn about what other schools are doing so that you can learn from their process, their challenges, their successes
Consider the ways in which one to one learning suits your school’s needs
Consult existing technology plans and existing academic plans and goals. Hopefully, they are integrated.
Talk to students about how they will use the technology and adapt to the changes. Gather their input

Select the Tech

Investigate various equipment – Laptops, netbooks, tablets, cell phones. Include insurance fees.
Choose software applications and web tools that will support learning best
Update bandwidth and electrical as needed


Choose a group of teachers and/or students who can implement early
Get student input on the progress
Get teacher input on the benefits and challenges
Monitor progress and evaluate the program
Make a list of changes that are needed before broad-scale implementation
Get excellent professional development and encourage individual teacher professional learning


Consult existing plans and expand them as needed
Bring students into the planning and evaluation processes
Allow teachers time to collaborate on best practices, best resources
Create and mold policies to support the learning

Educate the Community

Make sure that you include parents in the process
Share the academic goals and strategies which are being employed
Advise them of policy changes
Advise them of their role in supporting their child’s use

Implementation Time

A Philadelphia school, Mercy Vocational High School, is embarking on a one to one program for the 2011-2012 school year. They are blending one to one and bring your own device.

  • One to One Netbooks  for the freshmen and sophomores
  • Bring Your Own Device for juniors and seniors

It was a multifaceted approach to planning for Mercy Vocational High School says administrator Catherine Glatts. They covered all of the bases from technical to administrative to professional development to community support well in advance.


On Listening: ‘What helped us most was connecting with other schools who were already implementing some kind of 1:1 program. I listened to their lessons learned.’ Catherine Glatts, Mercy Vocational High School


On Educating the Entire Community: ‘Our administration is on-board with technology. They have been very supportive in moving the technology program forward.
Benefactors helped to make it reasonable for our students since many could not afford to buy their own netbook.’

On Professional Development: ”We trained our faculty and continue to train them. Faculty acted as students for a day, carrying the netbooks and using online tools.
We focused on just two tools to teach them at first: Google Apps and Edmodo. I, as an administrator, shared many google docs with my faculty so they had an opportunity to understand Google docs.  We also set up a faculty group in Edmodo to share ideas and promote other interesting links and tools.’

On Collaboration: ‘I have a  fantastic tech team to help promote the technology. They are always willing to help whomever needs help.’

On Selecting Tech: ‘Having good bandwidth is important. We are still testing our bandwidth and upgrading our Internet service.’


In summary, listen to those who are doing it now and plan wisely. Our students are worth our absolute best efforts.  Successful planning for educational technology initiatives can make all the difference in the world. Plan well in advance on purpose and with purpose and create the 21st century classrooms our students deserve.

Related Resources

7 Critical Questions for Technology Planning – TechConnects

Van Meter Schools, Iowa

One to One Schools

Mercy Vocational

Speak Up Survey – On TechConnects

This is cross posted on School CIO published Tech and Learning

On TechConnects

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2 thoughts on “Planning for One to One Laptops and BYOD”

  1. As a public school district that recently launched a BYOL program with all 7th graders, I found your article quite interesting; it hit the mark several times over. The planning stage is absolutely critical to the success of such a huge endeavor. I was also glad to see the suggestion to include parents. We called our project, “Partnership for Powerful Learning” because it truly was a partnership between students, teachers and students. For me, the absolute most important piece is professional development…and not just on the technology either; the PD needs to focus on the learning. We have begun to shift our teachers’ notion of what teaching and learning needs to look like in a century markedly different from the past. This is a cultural shift and goes way beyond knowing how to use Google or Glogster. You can find out more about our initiative here:


    Thanks so much for this article. I believe more and more school districts will go the way of BYOL (or BYOD) as budgets continue to shrink.

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