The best, most effective schools today must meet the individual needs of 21st century learners, tap into students' passions, and prepare them for a future we can't yet envision. According to Marc Prensky, author of Teaching Digital Natives, "today's teachers need to be sure that, no matter what subject they are teaching, they are teaching it with the future in mind...we must respect and learn from the past. But if the future isn't getting equal time in our education, we are selling our students terribly short." (5)
A one-size-fits-all model of instruction is no longer acceptable; thus, education has become more student-centered. Digital technology lends itself to a more personalized education model, one where the 21st century learning skills of collaboration, creativity, communication and critical thinking can be introduced, reinforced and mastered. In A Complete Guide to Establishing a One-to-One Program, Dr. Stephen Phelps writes, "Individual digital devices are to this era what the printing press, textbooks, libraries, television, chalkboards, and paper and pencils were to the students of previous eras. Our ability to master their use to improve student learning is central to our mission as Catholic schools' (3). In this second decade of the new millennium, digital technology is thoroughly integrated into every aspect of our students' lives. That is, except in their educational experience.
At Totino-Grace, regular access to technology is inequitable, limited by availability of computer labs and laptop carts. Education experts today call for schools to help students develop information, media and technology skills that are consistent, developmental, and responding to rapid changes in technology. That can only be achieved by giving students consistent access to a digital device in the teaching and learning process. Our current system of computer labs and laptop carts is inadequate to allow for innovative 21st century pedagogy by all teachers and 21st century skill development for all students.
A personal digital device does not replace the teacher
In a 1:1 learning environment there exists a new teaching and learning paradigm. But a digital device in students' hands does not replace the teacher; in fact, good teachers are needed more than ever to guide students in their learning. Good pedagogy is still required, and a strong curriculum based on standards is still essential. The key to student success will continue to be the personal relationship that exists between student and teacher. Totino-Grace teachers still understand the call of St. John Baptist de La Salle to touch the hearts of their students.