Why a 1-to-1 ed-tech program is better than a longer school day

'The entire price of our 1-to-1 initiative was the same price as making a school day 24 minutes longer'
By: | July 21, 2021

The first time a take-home, laptop or tablet is lost, damaged or stolen, Springfield Public Schools students are not held financially responsible.

Because the damage may not have been a student’s fault—if the device was lost in a house fire, for instance—they receive another laptop or tablet to take home, says Paul N. Foster, the Massachusetts district’s chief information and accountability officer.

But if that replacement device is broken or lost, the student will lose their take-home privileges, Foster says.

Springfield school leaders, like their K-12 colleagues across the country, are updating and revising device management procedures in the wake of distributing thousands—if not tens or hundreds of thousands—of devices so students could participate fully in online learning.

Prior to COVID, Springfield provided all students in third- through 12th-grade with laptops and extended the 1-to-1 program to K through 2 during the pandemic.

“The entire price of our 1-to-1 initiative was the same price as making a school day 24 minutes longer,” Foster says. “And we’re getting so much extra benefit—kids can do additional school work at home and it provides access in a community where 80% of students live in households that are on some form of public assistance.”

To keep all those devices up and running, the 25,000-student district contracted with a vendor to operate a help desk. During the pandemic, it also eliminated a $20 annual take-home fee.

The district went from 12,000 laptops going home to 25,000, so an increase in damage and lost rates was expected.

“We went from devices being used sometimes to being used all day, every day,” Foster says. On the other hand, a 1-to-1 program may encourage students may take better care of devices.

“When we had the proverbial laptop carts rolling around, and students were using random laptops, we saw more deliberate mischief and damage,” he says. “Now, it’s their laptop for the year and we’re seeing better care.”


Interested in edtech? Keep up with DA's Future of Education Technology Conference®.