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Next generation technology rapidly changing education

X:1 means many devices per student, not just a computer
X:1 means many devices per student, not just a computer
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A previous article outlined the rapidly changing educational landscape. The speed at which technology is changing, and the extremely embedded nature of it in everyday life, is spurring massive changes across the entire educational spectrum.

We have come a long, long, way since the days when a computer was a big deal in a classroom. What we have now is a plethora of computing devices in classrooms, from Kindergarten to Graduate school. It's not just one kind of device, running on one operating system either. It's multiple devices running on Android, Apple, and Windows systems.

The idea of 1:1, which is one device for one child, is already out of sync with reality. That initiative was aimed at having every child in a school district have a tablet or lap top of some kind. What happened is this: "every child", especially as they move up through the grades, probably has their own device, an iPad, lap top, tablet, nook, kindle, smart phone and so on. Now, districts have to plan for, and accommodate, far more devices, most of which they have no control over.

The advent of X:1(multiple devices) presents quite a few issues that districts have to deal with. The issues aren't equal across districts either. Small, rural, or less affluent districts will face a different set of issues than larger, more affluent districts, not in the scope of what needs to be done, but in the ability to fund, short term and long term, the infrastructure needed to support what is taking place.

Simply having enough tech staff available to keep the system running is somewhere near the top of the list. Along with those support staff, districts have to have a clear notion of what and how they will support these various devices. Not all school districts have the financial ability to adequately do this.

If children are bringing their own devices (BYOD), the burden on the district to supply devices goes down. The other side of that is how the district will support the school supplied devices and the devices that come from home. If all those devices are going to be able to access the school's local area network, who is going to manage that?

If the district has that many devices on the school's network, how much traffic can that network stand? If the capacity isn't robust enough, to what extent does the district increase capacity? It's an interesting question. If the system chokes up, everything chokes up.

School supplied tablets, iPads, and so on, are relatively easy to keep track of. Not so when it comes to the personal iPad, tablets, smartphones etc. that come along with X:1. Security of the devices is always an issue.

Does logging into the school's web system require passwords? How secure is that system in the face of all those devices jumping in? The districts will need to make certain, as much as is possible, that devices that are logged into the school's system are clear of malware, and that there's a robust firewall that will keep unwanted sites and code from infecting the entire school net.

Expanding the concept of "classroom" will be an interesting conversation. What is clear is that distance learning, in-house online learning, and learning from home will probably increase. It would be stunning if that didn't happen. The entire school family, parents, students, staff, and community, is going through an exciting time in education right now. Nothing is static. Put your seat belt and helmet on.