The Situation

When it comes to education, it seems like 1:1 learning—sometimes referred to as one-to-one learning—has been talked about for years.

That’s partly because 1:1 learning is a topic of incredible depth and breadth. It encompasses more than just a one-teacher-one-student relationship—it also involves adapting and broadening that relationship.

One such method is known as 1:1 computing, a learning environment in which each student and teacher is given a mobile computer to access the internet, digital course and supplemental material, and digital textbooks. By introducing edtech into the student-teacher relationship, 1:1 computing dramatically increases access to educational resources and creates opportunities for collaboration and real-time interaction.

In today’s modern learning communities, many educators and administrators understand that 1:1 computing represents an important paradigm shift in terms of what students are learning and how they’re learning it.

But shifting a school or school district to a 1:1 computing environment isn’t as easy as buying a mobile computer for every student and teacher. It’s a complicated process, primarily because it presents decision-makers with a chicken-and-egg scenario. Should a newly designed curriculum determine how mobile computers in the classroom are used? Or should the type and style of mobile computer guide curriculum design?

Educators and administrators at Bowman County Public Schools in Bowman, North Dakota, spent almost ve years talking through these questions, the answers, and the potential implications. They knew that whatever they settled upon would not only impact student and teacher interactions—it would also change how students learn.

The Challenge

Administrators at Bowman County understood that teacher buy-in would be an important rst step in implementing a 1:1 computing environment.

“We didn’t want to invest money into a 1:1 computing program if our teachers weren’t willing to use computers in their classrooms,” said Jonathan Jahner, the science and tech coordinator at Bowman County. “It was important for us to not only understand how they felt about introducing computers into the learning space but to also get a sense of their comfort level using the computer.”

As the dialogue continued, educators and administrators uncovered some interesting trends. First, they realized that their teachers were naturally introducing technology into their classrooms. Second, teachers said that their students were already exhibiting what Jahner called “21st century skills.” Educators and administrators realized that these skills could be utilized in the classroom.

Finally, because the district was using edtech in shared environments, it was becoming more and more di cult for students to access computers and materials. Students had to wait for a turn to use the computer, then wait again because it took time for it to switch to a different user profile.

Seeing these trends led administrators to survey the teaching staff to see how they felt about shifting to a 1:1 computing environment. Teachers were overwhelmingly in favor of doing so.
School o cials were considering an initial rollout of 100 computers during 2017 and an additional 190 during 2018. Jahner knew he’d need to nd a computer that would not only be comfortable for teachers to use but would also meet the needs of the learning community.

But like so many other schools across the country, Bowman County is a small district with a tight budget. Jahner knew purchasing that many computers outright would be out of the question. The district would need a exible nancing solution to make
it happen.

The Solution

Jahner reached out to the Microsoft Store at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, where he was put in touch with Michael Meirovitz, a retail partner store specialist. Thanks to our retail relationship with Microsoft, Meirovitz introduced Jahner to our Atlas 2-in-1 laptop.

Jahner was immediately interested, but he needed a way to t the purchase into the school district’s budget. To make it happen, Jahner worked with Brian Bagley, a managing director at Vantage Financial, one of Bak USA’s partners.

“This was a really unique situation,” Bagley said. “They were ready to purchase computers, but they weren’t sure if their network was ready for the demand that a full 1:1 computing environment would create. And they didn’t want to run into a situation where they’d purchase all of the computers but only deploy some, leaving the rest to sit for a year until they were ready to introduce them.”

Vantage Financial was able to put together a creative solution that included a ve-year lease and an escrow account. The lease enabled Bowman County to make the initial purchase without breaking their budget. The escrow account gave school officials peace of mind—they had funds had been set aside and earmarked speci cally for a second purchase when their network was ready.

It all came together pretty smoothly,” Bagley said. “They had a unique timing and technology issue and we were able to solve it for them. They got the computers they needed exactly when it would bene t them—and their students—the most. That’s incredibly rewarding.”

Once the nancing was in place, Jahner and his team were ready to move forward with deployment and use—just in time for the start of the 2017-18 school year.

As of this writing, the school year is about four months old and the Atlas has already made it easier for students to interact with course material.

“Because each student now has their own Atlas computer, the issue of access has largely been resolved—and it has greatly reduced downtime in the classroom,” Jahner said. “There’s no more waiting for a pro le to load or waiting for your turn with the computer because you’re sharing a device with other students. We now see kids getting immediate access and more time to work.”

Students aren’t the only ones enjoying increased access, Jahner said.

“We are a small, rural school district—but technology allows us to broaden our physical barriers,” he said. “We now have teachers using Skype in the classroom to reach out to other professionals and increase access to information. That’s the key— any time you can increase access to information, you’ve bene tted the education process. The old adage that knowledge is power holds true. Our increase in access only aids the knowledge of our students.”

Our Atlas computers are 2-in-1 devices that can be used as touchscreen laptops or folded back into tablets. Jahner said the teachers and students love the versatility.

The Atlas is much more user-friendly than our original computer environment,” Jahner said. “We love the laptop-to-tablet functionality. It provides our students with options for accomplishing a task, so they
can choose the one that works best for them and still get the work done.”

He also pointed to the touchscreen and active stylus as valuable features of the Atlas that give students easy access to the programs and apps they use in the classroom.

“We enjoy the ease of the small things, like the carrying handle and the swivel camera,” he said. “I also really like the compact size and functionality of the Atlas.”

The computers are durable and have weathered the start of the 2017-18 school year well—a feature Jahner appreciates. Atlas laptops are durable enough to withstand the rigors of an active classroom. They’re drop- and dust-resistant and can withstand being splashed when the inevitable happens.

Jahner said introducing the Atlas into the learning space has had a noticeable, positive impact on students.

“We’ve seen a heightened sense of pride and responsibility in our students,” Jahner said. “They’re very conscious of how they treat and use their computers. They love using the Atlas. It provides them with the freedom to work in school and at home without having to check out a laptop or waste time logging into a profile.”

The customer experience team at Bak USA has helped Jahner resolve a few issues quickly and easily. Michael Seamans, his contact on our business development team, has even helped his school expand their program by putting him in touch with companies that offer additional services or accessories.

The customer service at Bak USA is second-to-none,” Jahner said. “I love that when I call, I speak to a real person—and the turnaround time from issue to resolution is remarkable.”

The Benefits

Enhances access to material.
With one Atlas assigned to each student and teacher, each person in the learning space has easy, smooth access to material. Students and teachers can easily unlock their Atlas with the touch of a nger—no more waiting for pro les to load or worrying about forgotten passwords.

User-friendly.
With a familiar Windows 10 interface, a touchscreen, and an active stylus, students and teachers don’t have to waste valuable instruction time fumbling for the programs and apps they need.

Budget-friendly.
Thanks to Bak USA’s partnership with Vantage Financial, deploying Atlas laptops throughout an entire school or school district doesn’t have to break the bank.

Versatile enough for all learners.
Atlas 2-in-1 laptops are designed to accommodate learners of all types. Students can use it as a touchscreen laptop or fold it back into a tablet, engaging with the material in a way that’s right for them.

Built for the school of hard knocks.
Students are tough on equipment. Our Atlas laptops are drop- and dust-resistant and can withstand being splashed when the inevitable happens.