Technology continues to transform virtually every industry you can name, and education is no exception.

As a K-12 educator, you might be facing challenges implementing new classroom technology and keeping informed about the latest trends in EdTech.

Eighty-one percent of U.S. school districts are interested in implementing 1:1 teaching solutions in the next two years. This growing trend adds many benefits to the classroom, but what does that mean for you?

Teaching in a 1:1 Classroom Environment

There are many definitions of “1:1” for classroom learning. For the purposes of the tools defined in this post, 1:1 is one device per one student—each student may be assigned a personal device, devices may be located in the room and used for each class, or students may bring their own device of any type (phone, laptop, iPad, etc.). Another way to think about this is one teacher to student (where the “teacher” is the device the student is using).

A 1:1 classroom environment supports many learning styles and expands the ability for students to be successful in their own way. A “one size fits all” methodology no longer applies—instead, learning is customized for each student. The National Education Technology Plan of 2010 defines three instructional types—individualized learning, differentiated learning, and personalized learning—as the following:

  • Individualized learning is instruction paced to the learning needs of each student. Learning goals are the same for all students, but students can progress through the material at different speeds according to their learning needs. For example, students might take longer to progress through a given topic, skip topics that cover information they already know, or repeat topics for which they need more help.
  • Differentiated learning is instruction tailored to the learning preferences of each student. Learning goals are the same for all students, but the method or approach of instruction varies according to the preferences of each student or what research has found works best for students like them.
  • Personalized learning is instruction paced to learning needs and tailored to learning preferences and the specific interests of each student. In an environment that is fully personalized, the learning objectives and content as well as the method and pace may all vary (so personalization encompasses differentiation and individualization).

In addition, 1:1 classroom environments support adaptive learning, a method where assignments for individual students may be changed based on his or her demonstrated proficiencies.

The Role of Technology in K-12 1:1 Classrooms

Using technology in the classroom can meet the needs of diverse learners, and supports the instructor’s role as facilitator rather than as expert. Some students may be able to easily navigate their way through apps and online materials, while others may need more guidance. As an educator, your role in a 1:1 environment is not only to provide the tools and lessons, but to provide structure and support in navigating through these tools.

And while a device in each student’s hand may sound wonderful, it’s important to first establish a plan for success. Consider the following three “Cs” as you move toward your 1:1 classroom environment:

  • Choose function over fads. A 1:1 classroom can be equally effective using online tools and apps on tablets, PCs, or Macs.
  • Teamwork and collaboration make up a large portion of professional life, so while a single device for a single user can support diverse learning styles, students should also be encouraged to collaborate on projects and demonstrate teamwork as a class or in small groups.
  • Consider all elements of the budget. Devices have both a purchase cost and maintenance costs. Analyze all the costs that might be associated with any type of repairs or replacements before you recommend a purchase.

Preparing for the Digital Classroom: 7 Resources for Teachers

Mastering the technology required to successfully provide students a 1:1 education tailored to their needs can be achieved through education and support. There are many online resources to help K-12 educators set up 1:1 classrooms for ongoing success.

Here’s a list of seven sources you may find helpful:

  • Sophia offers free tools for teachers interested in flipped classrooms, professional development, and other classroom resources. Sophia also provides modules to track student progress, including tutorials for active classroom activities.
  • iPad Bootcamp for Teachers provides a list of iPad apps organized by their function. This site includes information specific to 1:1 teaching, iPad accessories, and tutorials on navigating an iPad.
  • Edmodo is a collaboration tool for teachers, students, and parents built in a K-12 “social learning community.” Free accounts are available for entire districts so collaboration can happen outside of individual classrooms or schools.
  • Schoology is a learning management system that posts grades, maintains calendars, and manages classroom workload. It’s also a multiple CODiE Award
  • Nearpod is an interactive presentation and learning app that students can view/work on as part of a classroom setting. This iPad app also allows for real-time assessment.
  • ShowMe is another iPad lesson tool that allows educators to create and share lessons with their students. This tool has a library of lessons that teachers can access as part of the ShowMe community.
  • Kidblog is a tool that allows students to publish writing online through a safe and secure environment. It allows for all stages—from pre-writing and drafting, to editing, publishing, and commenting.


Capella University has partnered with Sophia to offer continuing education courses specifically designed to help you integrate the latest educational technology into your classroom. These courses can be stacked into a graduate certificate and a Master of Science in Education Innovation and Technology, Instruction in the 1:1 Environment specialization.