Prior to COVID-19, the Pleasanton Calif. Unified School District (PUSD) was already issuing a digital device to every middle and high school student. During the pandemic, the district expanded its 1-to-1 policy to all elementary-level students, as well.

“Anybody who needed a device got a device,” says Patrick Gannon, the district’s communications and community engagement coordinator. Thanks to that rapid deployment, “We were able to pivot 14,500 students from in-person to remote instruction in the course of a week.”

PUSD isn’t alone: Around the nation, virtual learning needs spurred rapid adoption of 1-to-1 policies across K-12 education. While the final numbers on device adoption aren’t in yet, “There’s clearly been a huge effort to secure more devices,” says Keith Krueger, CEO of the nonprofit Consortium for School Networking.

Going forward, educators say, this broad availability of computers will change the way teachers interact with students, and it will change how kids learn.

Pleasanton (Calif.) Unified School District was already issuing a digital device to every middle and high school student. During the pandemic, the district expanded its 1-to-1 policy to all elementary-level students.

The need for deeper school learning resources

In schools with 1-to-1 device programs, students have access to a wider and deeper range of learning resources. “It allows the student to pull in information that they might not have been able to access before,” Gannon says. “In the past, you’d go to the library, and depending on whether you were first or last in line, you would get stuck with whatever book was left over. Now, students have the entire internet available to them.”