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Author: Nick Sauers, 1-to-1schools.net | July 30th, 2013

How does your school handle student agency related to your 1:1 initiative? Many 1:1 schools involve students in some ways, but the extent of that involvement varies greatly. I’ve worked with schools that have had students on the 1:1 planning committee, but really had no power because of the domination of teachers or other adults on the committee. I’ve observed other schools where students were actually empowered to make the decision about which device to use. Those two examples may highlight the extremes of student agency in planning for 1:1, and I’d argue that neither is appropriate. Students should have a real voice in the 1:1 planning process, but they shouldn’t be the only voice. Teachers, administrators, and technology coordinators certainly have valuable insight into which device will provide the best learning experience for students.

Unfortunately, student agency seems to routinely disappear once 1:1 initiatives begin. The rest of this post will focus on ways to continue to involve students with your 1:1 initiative after deployment of devices. I’ve categorized these ideas into two categories, mild and wild. The context of your 1:1 setting may have a lot to do with which ideas are more suitable for you.


-Have stu­dents cre­ate a plan for cre­at­ing a pos­i­tive dig­i­tal pres­ence for your school. Allow stu­dents to imple­ment that plan!
-Let students be actively involved with technology support as members of the tech team. Give them truly meaningful roles on the team.
-Allow students to positively contribute to the school’s presence on social media. Encourage them to share their work on your school’s YouTube channel, twitter hashtag, and facebook page.


-Allow students to create your acceptable use policy and consequences. Routinely share discipline data related to your 1:1 initiative with them. Have them help develop other procedures and rules to help with the management of your program.
-Give stu­dents free­dom each week to explore a topic of their choos­ing. I recently fin­ished Daniel Pink’s book Drive which high­lighted the suc­cesses many com­pa­nies have had with allow­ing employ­ees to explore a topic of their own choosing. This time would be similar to the approach that many people know as Google’s 20 percent time.
-Have students lead professional development for teachers on ways to use technology to improve the learning experience.

These are just a few simple examples of student agency. For even more ideas, brainstorm with your students and staff. Real student agency just isn’t about student choice; it also should include true student voice.

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