1:1 Teaching and Learning in the Apple and ConnectED Initiative: Lessons from Early Implementation

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Shear, L., Mislevy, J., Beesley, A., Iwatani, E., Wang, S., Patel, D., Wang, H., Nielsen, N., Gerard, S., Araoz, C., & Benge, C. (2021). 1:1 teaching and learning in the Apple and ConnectED Initiative: Lessons from early implementation. SRI Education.


Through the lens of the Apple and ConnectED Initiative, this report asks the questions, what does a promising start look like when you add technology to education and what types of support can enable conditions for success?

Technology, such as iPad™ devices for students and teachers, has the potential to energize classrooms and bring substantially new types of learning opportunities to children of all ages. These changes are not an automatic result of adding technology to education, and they often take place over a long period of time. This report asks the questions, what does a promising start look like and what types of support can enable conditions for success?

We ask these questions through the lens of the Apple and ConnectED Initiative, which has been the focus of a rigorous 6-year research study. Launched in 2014, the Apple and ConnectED Initiative has supported 114 participating schools across the country with an iPad for every student. Schools received a host of programmatic supports including extensive professional learning opportunities for teachers and leaders, technology infrastructure upgrades, and process management.

The initiative and this research are explicitly situated in a diversity of traditionally under-resourced communities, with schools ranging from pre-K to secondary and from the inner city to rural migrant communities to Native American villages. This report focuses on the first year of iPad use across these schools to describe the initial changes that might be expected to appear when sufficient support is in place to lower common barriers to its adoption.

The report describes early implementation in three successive stages:

  1. Access: Many of the ConnectED schools saw daily iPad use across multiple subjects, even early in implementation. This level of use was facilitated by strategic and technical preparation prior to the introduction of the iPad devices, coupled with initial strategies for their instructional application. Daily widespread use demonstrated how universal technology access has the potential to “level the playing field” and broaden students’ horizons.
  2. Integration: In classrooms where iPad use had become the norm, the learning environments looked different from those in typical classroom settings. In particular, iPad classrooms leveraged immediate access to rich information, offered new opportunities for expression, used technology to increase student engagement, and benefited from more organized and efficient workflows.
  3. Innovation: In addition to more active and engaging learning environments, technology is often seen as holding promise to facilitate meaningful changes to students’ opportunities for learning. This study uses a framework for “deeper learning” to describe emerging opportunities for teamwork, critical thinking, and other skills that prepare students for success beyond the classroom. Teacher surveys and a review of lesson plans reveal some initial steps toward deeper learning for a broad range of teachers, particularly in the dimensions of personalization and communication/creation that were most directly enabled by the affordances of the new iPad devices. More advanced opportunities require careful and creative lesson planning, and were most likely to be seen in the classrooms of teachers who held deeper learning as an explicit goal.

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