1:1 learning initiatives in Europe (and the U.S.)

I just came back from the COSN delegation meeting, where I presented research (quantitative and qualitative data) on 1:1 initiatives in Europe from European Schoolnet (EUN). This was a good opportunity to confront some of the European lessons learnt with the U.S. perspective on 1:1 initiatives.

The number of 1:1 initiatives in the U.S. is high and many initiatives have a long history (e.g. starting in 2000 such as the Maine Learning technology initiative involving a very high number of students and schools (e.g. more than 50 000 devices for around 300 schools in Maine). Experiences are widespread and implementers can draw from long lasting experiences. There seem to be common challenges that concern all of us. The first one is that each ICT initiative should start with a “Why” Why are we doing this in our school? What are the underlying objectives? Once this is clarified it will be easier to plan for the “How” and get every stakeholder involved- a second challenge. In this process of design it is not always easy to align intentions from school leaders, researchers, industry or parents, therefore an ongoing dialogue is needed.
Whilst there was common consensus that it is not about the technology (but the pedagogy), it was also interesting to hear from Stéphan Vincent Lancrin (OECD) that a technology push as it was done with supplying schools with interactive whiteboards in Italy as part of the digital plan for schools aimed to act as a catalyst for innovation. Some school district leaders in the U.S. have also opted to push technology and convince their teachers to use it for the sake of their students’ learning (e.g. for the acquisition of 21st century skills). Technology disruption can be a powerful tool in that sense if combined with leadership and professional development.
A striking issue was that broadband which is provided by school districts, is still a major issue in the U.S. There is a broadband goal of 100Mbps of Internet access per 1,000 students and 43 percent of districts said none of their schools meet the target today. This will not be solved by providing wireless via a local backbone to schools as Keith Krüger highlights. On average in the EU, 9 out of ten students are in schools with broadband, at most commonly between 2 and 30mbps.
Despite connectivity issues, one of the most common issue the U.S. and Europe face is the mainstreaming and upscaling of innovation and successful technology integration. EUN is developing strategies in this area specifically with the iTEC project, which has issued a series of recommendations for mainstreaming the results of innovative ICT rich school pilots across national education systems throughout Europe.
Steve Vosloo, offered a global view on mobile learning and highlighted that UNESCO pursues a long term strategy with mobile learning initiatives and provides policy recommendations in this area but also toolkits for teachers (to be expected next year). There are an estimated 6 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide, 3.2 billion mobile phone subscribers. How mobile phones can be used in school education is certainly one of the next waves to watch.
Some links to studies and projects mentioned above from European Schoolnet:
Survey of schools: ICT in education:
http://www.eun.org/observatory/surveyofschools

Overview and analysis of 1:1 learning initiatives/practical guidelines for schools:
http://1to1.eun.org/

iTEC project:
http://itec.eun.org

Future classroom lab:
http://fcl.eun.org/

Creative Classrooms Lab (1:1 tablet initiatives in schools)
http://creative.eun.org