Sustaining a 1:1 Program – Insights From Research



Beesley, A., Griffiths, R., & Shear, L. (2020, November 29–December 5). Sustaining a 1:1 program – insights from research. [Research presentation]. ISTE 20 Live.


1:1 programs bring initial excitement and, later, deeper learning opportunities. But sustaining and funding over time is a challenge. This paper shares insights on sustaining 1:1 technology programs in economically challenged K–12 settings, based on a large research study of an iPad program.



When conceptualizing sustainability for 1:1 programs, we draw on McLaughlin and Mitra’s (2001) notion that sustainability is not merely about continued device use, but rather about deepening implementation practices, including instructional practices, over time. For programs like ConnectED, it means that using technology for teaching and learning becomes an integral component of daily practice (Coburn, 2003; McLaughlin & Mitra, 2001)—teachers’ continued and expanded use, ongoing opportunities for teachers’ professional learning associated with technology integration, and the adoption of school or district practices that support the continued and improved use of the devices for instruction.

Literature on sustaining general instructional improvement efforts suggests that teachers and schools benefit from adequate resources beyond initial implementation (Klingner et al., 1999; McLaughlin & Mitra 2001); continued professional learning opportunities (McLaughlin & Mitra, 2001) that support teachers’ implementation and growing understanding of the reform; a clear, shared purpose (Coburn, 2003; McLaughlin & Mitra, 2001); a compatible district and school context (Berends et al., 2002; Coburn, 2003); knowledgeable, stable, and supportive school leadership (Berends et al., 2002; Datnow et al., 2002; Gersten et al., 2000; Klingner et al., 1999); and a school-based professional community (Bryk et al., 2010; Coburn, 2012; Datnow et al., 2002; Hargreaves & Goodson, 2006; Klingner et al., 1999) that supports implementation and continued professional growth.

Within 1:1 contexts, establishing a clear vision for technology integration is especially key (AIR, 2015) for the success and sustainability of programs. Without such a vision, 1:1 efforts run the risk of becoming about the devices themselves, rather than about instructional growth (Dede, 2013). With a clear vision, school leaders lay the foundation for a school culture of innovation and collaboration in which the technology can play a role in supporting teaching and learning. Establishing a shared plan and purpose additionally demonstrates school leaders’ commitment to the change (Zucker & Hug, 2007; Balanskat, et al. 2013). Such an approach invites coaches and teachers to engage as innovators and partners in the work (Zucker & Hug, 2007).

Teachers’ instructional contexts are just as important to program sustainability as a clear vision. Teachers need time and professional learning to incorporate technology use within their teaching contexts (Argueta et al. 2011; Donovan et al. 2007; Keengwe et al. 2012; Vosloo 2012). Adequate infrastructure and technology support are crucial for teachers to maintain their focus on instruction (Alberta Education, 2006). Further, even when a school is fully committed to technology integration and has a thriving culture supporting 1:1 programs, school leaders still must find ways to financially support device maintenance and replacement over time.

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