Leslie Wilson is a founder and CEO of One-to-One Institute. For more than 38 years, she has served education in top level, key decision-making roles at state and local levels. Her research, advocacy and change agency have impacted national and international education technology research and discussions. Recognized as an international expert in education technology-particularly around one to one programs, Leslie co-authored, “Project RED-The Technology Factor, Nine Keys to Student Achievement and Cost Effectiveness” which is the most broadly used research around successful implementation of 1:1 technologies in schools.
What led to the formation of Project RED?
We began with a grand notion that re-engineering schools is necessary for revolutionizing US education. The conversion to a digital model that facilitated a student-centered, personalized approach would be the heart and soul of that revolution.
One-to-One Institute, The Greaves Group and Hayes Connection spent months discussing the current trends, challenges in the ed tech space. Educators and communities frequently discussed lack of resources, budget and wherewithal to purchase ed tech. They also failed to understand the efficacy and moral imperative of providing 21st century tools for today’s learners education experiences. We decided to take on this research project to demonstrate that: well implemented technologies reap a major return on the investment through enhanced student achievement and revenue positive results (savings) in schools.
Who are the main people behind the project?
The co-authors are One-to-One Institute (Leslie Wilson, Michael Gielniak); The Greaves Group (Thomas Greaves); the Hayes Connection (Jeanne Hayes); and Peterson Public Sector Consulting, LLC (Eric ‘Ric’ Peterson).
Were the results of the study surprising in any way?
The following were unanticipated findings:
1) US education is in an ed tech implementation crisis. We uncovered 9 Key Implementation Factors in our study of 997 schools. Less than 3% of these schools had engaged even half of the factors for their ed tech programs/initiatives. These 997 schools were chosen as ‘early adopters’ and leaders in the area of ed tech. If schools are not well implementing their technologies – there will be negative return on investment and more importantly, they will not see necessary outcomes like increased student achievement and revenue positive results across the school/district/system.
2) Clear evidence that the lower the ratio of students to computers, the greater increase in student achievement and revenue positive outcomes.
3) The majority of schools used district/school funding for ed tech purchases.
Were there any real success stories that stood out during the study?
Chapter 9 regarding our financial findings (comparing school costs using technologies vs not using technologies) is compelling for schools and for our nation.
The amount of resources we can recover/save using technology is amazing. Chapter 9 will give you a complete rundown.
What about BYOD schemes? Were these in use in any of the institutions? How effective do you feel they can be?
Yes, there were sites using BYOD though we didn’t research specifically on that front. BYOD can be effective. The same implementation key factors, visioning, project planning, etc., must be incorporated for BYOD to have desired student outcomes results. BYOD can also provide costs savings to the districts relative to device purchase – but not the other associated costs.
What common themes or traits did you notice across the nearly 1000 schools you studied?
- Proper implementation of technology is linked to education success.
- Properly implemented technology saves money.
- 1-to-1 schools that properly implement technology outperform all other
schools, including all other 1-to-1 schools.
- A school principal’s ability to lead is critical to the success of an implementation
- Online collaboration increases learning productivity and student engagement.
- Daily use of technology delivers the best return on investment (ROI)
- Schools with a 1-1 student–computer ratio that address only a few of the key implementation factors perform only marginally better than non–1-to-1 schools.
- Schools that employ the Project RE D Key Implementation Factors
outperform all schools, including all other 1-to-1 schools.
Were there common pitfalls that schools had fallen into?
Most common pitfall was failure to well implement across all factors. What’s important is not honing in on just a few of the key factors – but engaging all of them on parallel paths.
The study completed, what does Project RED now do in the education community?
We continue to do keynote presentations, professional development, writing, provide services and consultancies across the world. One-to-One Institute has captured the RED findings within all of the work we do with educators, schools and states. It drives our work across the board.
We consult with vendors and other organizations to help them understand the education space and how their products should be developed and what is important in that development to best serving schools today.
All the benefits are seen on the home page. There are resources, archived webinars, slide decks, a hub where there is a forum for questions, sharing; free tools such as readiness rubric, project plan, implementation timeline, integration of the key factors for implementation, and more!
What's next for you all at Project RED? Will there be further studies?
Yes, we are finalizing our sponsors and are working with a major university to continue the Project RED research. After we published our first study, we held a national contest for schools to apply to be Project RED Signature Districts. It was a rigorous process. In essence, schools/districts demonstrated their adherence to the Project RED Design in their ed tech implementations. They had to commit to being part of our future research as well as many other stipulations. These 17 districts have provided data to us the past 2 years (and this will be year 3 of their data collection). We will use this for our next study iteration. Exciting times!!
Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with us Leslie; it has been a real privilige. We wish you every success for the future of Project RED and the One to One Institute.