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1:1 Saturations and Computer Labs: Can Their Benefits Bring a New Model?

Wayan Vota

One learning tool per student is an accepted and expected ratio when we speak of pencils, books, and other familiar items in a classroom. We all assume that private use of these items confers greater benefit than their cost, and only high-cost or rare items should be shared among all students, as in a library for books or chemical sets in a chemistry class.

Yet this seemingly natural order has a whole other life when we look at information and communication technologies in educational systems. Especially when we focus on computers. Educators and technologists promote either full saturation, a 1:1 model where each student has a computer, usually a laptop, or a shared-use model where computers, often desktops, are deployed in school labs.

Between these two models there is the initial debate around the different computing platforms and their different benefits, which highlights a more subtle difference in pedagogy, and through that, the basic foundations of what “school” means to a society.

For July, the Educational Technology Debate we will examine the two models, 1:1 and computer labs, and their respective benefits. Our goal will be to understand which benefits are key, and look for a way in which we can fuse these key benefits into a model that can be deployed in the many educational environments of the developing world.

Our two respected discussants on this topic will be:

  • Walter Bender
    Walter Bender currently heads Sugar Labs, focusing on the award-winning Sugar Learning Platform (download it now). Previously he was president for software and content development at One Laptop per Child, and is on leave from MIT, where he was executive director of the MIT Media Laboratory.
  • Mark Beckford
    Mark Beckford is currently Vice President of Global Business Development at NComputing, Inc, whose virtualization software and hardware allows multiple users to work off a single computer. Previously, he led diverse global teams at Intel to extend its market leadership and promote growth in new and emerging markets.

Please join us for what we all expect to be a lively and informative conversation – your input can start right now in the comments below, and Walter and Mark will post their opening remarks beginning Monday, July 6.


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