One Device Per Group

I will begin this post with some reaction on Twitter regarding my last blog…



I know I raised a few eyebrows with my last posting “Returning slowly…One Device Per Group.

I also had a really busy week both personally and professionally and have not had an opportunity to reply to the threads on Twitter above and a comment from BalancEdTech on the blog – so here goes!

My thinking is evolving about this topic and it is certainly not final.

The question is about education and working in groups: understanding, sharing, engaging with contextual learning challenges set by the teacher.

Yes, the student will have a device in their pockets and schools will certainly have to go down the road in managing their experience of that device on the school campus . I am not ruling out the use of that device in school.

I agree with Bridge to Learn that 1:1 may pull teams apart. This was one of my insights from my mainly offline time this Summer, whilst observing others online behaviour patterns.

I believe that there are more fundamental issues and one is classroom design.

We need to move from rectangles to circles, from solo-work-spaces to a co-operative space that is supported with one device per five or six students – this device could be an iPad (as BalancEdTech) suggested but it could also be a laptop connected to a printer, scanner, visualiser, camera and other technological peripherals.

The point is that there is one of each device, with the students collectively deciding how to use the tools to research and present their work.

I absolutely concur with John Heeneys comment above via Twitter on ” this model of technology-mediated, but group-based learning”

I write regularly of the work of Elliot Eisner in his  Ten lessons the Arts Teach. One of his lessons is “…that there are many ways to see and interpret the world.”

The world is best seen and mediated through people, through teachers and students typically, in the school situation.

One device, six people – mediation and group interpretation…



  1. Donal O' Mahony

    Kevin – thank you for your reply – this is an area that we are all working out way through – I am also concerned 1. the ongoing total cost of ownership of 1:1 solutions -2. that while schools usually introduce 1:1 as a textbook solution, that they are getting a poor deal in terms of “ownership of digital content”. I am reminded of the Defective by Design site While these ideas may not be on the radar of many educators, they are increasingly important if we ask parents to make such a major investment backed up by a similar robust wi-fi in schools.

    I really like your sentence “For collaboration, it is the “collectively deciding” that is key and limiting the resources to each team can certainly encourage this sort of behaviour.”

    Thank you


    I digress a little!

  2. Kevn Sullivan

    Hi Donal,

    I may have over-simplified a bit with the words “pulls team apart”. I have taken part in active collaboration involving a 1:1 device ratio. Three people editing a shared online document. I found it a very useful way of working.

    That said, with students, a 1:1 ratio may lend itself to cooperation rather than collaboration i.e. we’ll work independently on a section each rather than really working together.

    For collaboration, it is the “collectively deciding” that is key and limiting the resources to each team can certainly encourage this sort of behaviour.

    Kevin (Bridge21)

    P.S. I spent a week on the Camino myself this summer but I was rarely away from my favourite gadget for very long!