Research Update #2: Technologies In Arts Integration Curricula

Note: This is my second research update in a larger project looking at technologies that facilitate integrated visual arts education in high school classrooms.  To read my first research update, click here.

As I continue my research on integrated arts through tech, I have sought out examples of successful high school arts integration efforts. In this research update, I would like to define and discuss two important concepts that are frequently referenced in this field: one-to-one and BYOD.


One-to-one computing, sometimes written as 1:1, refers to efforts by many school districts to fund a computer, such as laptop, PC, handheld, or tablet for every child.  Preliminary studies show that one-to-one programs can have a positive impact on student learning outcomes, with increases in test scores and subject area proficiency.  

An example of a large-scale one-to-one push is a 1-billion dollar iPad program in the Los Angeles Unified School District.  iPads worth $768 apiece were distributed to select students,  with plans to eventually distribute them to all students in the school district.  Almost immediately the initiative faced challenges, as several hundred students promptly hacked the devices and had to surrender them.  Schools also faced difficulties providing adequate wireless infrastructure to support the technology.  Administration reactions were mixed.  Some felt it was worthwhile, while others found the expenditure appalling when other, more basic needs are not being met.  

Some teachers also have difficulty mastering the new technology.  Still others face technology fatigue as policy makers switch out pedagogical tactics each year, rather than providing the long-term training and strategy necessary to make meaningful changes.  Lack of strategy makes for poor results, especially when the technology is seen as a quick fix.  If the focus is on the piece of technology rather than the larger learning strategy behind it, one-to-one programs are almost certainly doomed to fail.

More resources:

Reflections from a successful one-to-one implementation process

Strategies to avoid common one-to-one pitfalls


An alternative movement to 1:1 is BYOD—which stands for Bring Your Own Device.  BYOD schools ask students to bring their personal technologies such as smartphones and laptops for use in classroom instruction.  BYOD has gained traction in both workplaces and schools, with 84% of high schools now implementing BYOD in some fashion 

BYOD is often seen as a technology alternative for school districts that cannot afford devices for all students.  Because students are furnishing their own devices, schools do not have to worry about the strategic and financial burdens of personalization, maintenance and updates.   In addition, a BYOD strategy acknowledges and embraces the digital devices that students already bring to school, rather than enforcing traditional bans on devices in the classroom.

Schools often take a blended approach, in which they also purchase technologies that students can use if they do not have their own device.  This option is still much cheaper as there is not an obligation to furnish every student with a computer.

As with one-to-one, BYOD has its own skeptics.  Many worry that allowing devices like smartphones in the classroom will be more of a distraction than benefit.  There is also some hesitation about families being asked to make up the difference where school districts are cutting funding.   Others voice concerns that BYOD could increase the prevalence of cyberbullying and personal security violations.

Like one-to-one, BYOD’s success depends largely on teachers well trained and prepared to implement this learning strategy.

More resources:

 Successful BYOD case studies


Many fantastic technological tools are already used in the high school classroom.  The key point is stated best by Dr. Peter Gouzouasis of The University of British Columbia: “Technology promoted as a panacea overlooks that technology will simply be replaced by the newest invention.  The result of that rapid state of obsolescence will have little impact on social and individual transformations save to accentuate the digital divide.”

While these tools have powerful potential, they are still tools.  They must be used properly as part of a well-planned school-wide strategy in which teachers are properly consulted and trained in how to best integrate the technologies into their lessons.