From Chaos to Control: 3 Keys to Improving 1:1 Program Sustainability

From Chaos to Control: 3 Keys to Improving 1:1 Program Sustainability
August 7, 2023 8 min read

I tell this story a lot, but for those who haven’t heard it, here we go:

Part of my job at Trafera is to provide consultation to schools who have gone or are going 1:1 with student devices (one device for every one student). One day, when I was doing a school walk-through with a tech director, we poked into the tech department’s storage closet. Inside were dozens of Chromebooks. When I asked the tech director what they were, he said, “I haven’t the slightest idea.”

After talking to multiple people around the district, it turned out these were broken devices that no-one knew what to do with, so they had just been tossed into a closet “for the tech team to take care of.” 

The problem went beyond that single closet, though. 

A district-wide audit was conducted which helped this tech director identify thousands of broken devices (worth hundreds of thousands of dollars!!!) squirreled away across multiple campuses.Thankfully, once this problem was identified, it was swiftly and effectively addressed by the school. 

I like to use this example when talking about creating a 1:1 ecosystem that works, because in this case, there was a lot that was not working. This story highlights a few make-or-break things that schools need to sustainably operate a successful one-to-one program: 

  1. Visibility to real-time accurate information and data
  2. Accountability and ownership across the district
  3. Reliable and streamlined methods for maintaining devices 

Without these, a 1:1 program can become an overwhelming and costly endeavor for any sized tech team. However, when you have these parts figured out, you will find going 1:1 not only way more sustainable, but even scalable as your students, staff, and curriculum grow and evolve. 

Let’s break down how these three components can shape a sustainable and scalable 1:1 program.

Creating a Sustainable, Scalable 1:1 Program

Visibility to Real-Time, Accurate Information and Data

Accountability and Ownership Across the District

If you’ve ever played a game of Where’s Waldo? you know how frustrating it can be to search through the crowd and look for the guy in a striped shirt, it sometimes feels like an impossible task. Now imagine doing that with school devices. Where is laptop #345? Who checked out laptop #67? Is laptop #123 in repair or did it go missing?

I’ll tell you what, that is no game (at least not a very fun one), but that truly can be what a tech coordinator's day-to-day life feels like without a good system for asset management. I’ve seen firsthand how districts try to shoehorn student devices into their existing inventory tracking tools. Accounting for Chromebooks like you would a textbook may work when you’re dealing with a handful of devices, but when we are talking about hundreds (or even thousands) of devices, it quickly becomes a fiasco. 

That is why you need a tool designed for the job; one that can handle the task of maintaining accurate records and data on school devices as your 1:1 program expands and changes. This is a job for asset management and ticketing software. 

Let’s look at Incident IQ–a popular asset management and ticketing platform within K-12. With Incident IQ you can view real-time data on: 

  • Serial Numbers
  • Device Assignment (“Who has what device”)
  • Device Age and Google Auto Update Expiration date (Chromebooks only)
  • Warranty Coverage
  • Ticket Tracking
  • Utilization 

All of that data can be used to confidently manage district inventory, report on the status of district devices, and plan ahead using accurate and current data. 

Trust me, this kind of visibility is like having a superpower! You can make informed decisions, tackle issues head on, and keep your 1:1 programs on a road of success. You’re no longer playing Where's Waldo? – instead, you're confidently steering your district’s tech future. 

When you are driving a 1:1 program, the saying “it takes a village” could not be more true. You are not just launching a new technology initiative, you’re transforming the education landscape of your district. That requires a lot of responsibility and collective ownership. 

That’s where a solid roadmap comes in. It is the blueprint that keeps everyone in sync and fosters accountability across your team and district. Among other things, you should document:

  • Who is your team? This isn’t an IT project alone. It’s a district wide initiative. Encourage every stakeholder (i.e superintendent, teachers, ect.) to own their piece of the puzzle. 
  • What are the roles and responsibilities? Creating a clear outline of what is expected from each team member will help define their individual roles and responsibilities leading to smooth execution and coordination within your team.
  • What tools and resources will be provided? Each team member is unique and will need different tools to thrive. Making sure everyone is well equipped will give them the opportunity to play their part in the technology initiative successfully. 
  • How will you maintain accountability? Having regular check-ins, open communication, and a mutual understanding of everyone’s roles will encourage a strong sense of accountability, keeping your team “rowing in the same direction.”

Think of your roadmap as a pledge to commitment. It links your technology approach directly to student success and gives you a clear path to follow when unexpected challenges arise. This is how we foster a sense of ownership and shared responsibility across a district because, ultimately, we’re all working towards the same goal. 

A good asset management system can also help here, especially in regard to governance (ie. “what is everyone’s specific role in the process, and how do you oversee it?”). With many asset management systems, you can designate roles, set permissions, and see activity history attributed to individuals. This all can greatly help in keeping the team “rowing in the same direction” and encourage accountability for individuals in their roles. 

Reliable and Streamlined Methods for Maintaining Devices

Devices break. It’s an inevitable part of the tech lifecycle. That is why it is important to have an effective repair plan in place to ensure minimal downtime and learning disruptions for students. 

For my school, the response to this was warranties. We opted to attach a Trafera Platinum warranty to each of our student devices. Among other perks, I chose Trafera’s warranties for their robust battery coverage, self-repair friendly terms (so I could do some repairs in-house without voiding the warranty), and loaner device options. Trafera’s warranties were also easily managed through their customer portal, which gave us a simple way to submit warranty claims, order parts, and view insight and real-time statuses. 

Mainly, going the warranty-route gave me and my tech team a consistent device maintenance budget to work with year after year. 

Whether your school chooses warranties, in-house repairs, or per-instance repairs, the takeaway here is to have a plan that is: 

  • Communicated clearly across the school/district
  • Budgeted for year after year
  • Scalable to changes in tech team and fleet size

The second part of that is ticketing and help desk procedures. When a device breaks, your tech team needs to clear steps for initiating and moving through the repair process (whether repairs are done in-house or shipped out). Ticketing systems, like Incident IQ, can really play a big part here. 

Want to dive in deeper into creating a 1:1 program that sticks? Check out our blog How to Create a “Sticky” Tech Plan for Your School’s Chromebook 1:1 Program.

Tying It All Together 

There are a “thousand ways to skin a cat” when it comes to improving data accuracy, accountability, and repair processes within your 1:1 program. But the last bit of creating a sustainable 1:1 program is simplicity. 

There are a lot of complex and detailed parts of operating a successful 1:1 program, so keep it simple where you have the chance.

An easy way to do that is paring down your tech stack with interoperable tools. Not only do you reduce data silos when you use fewer tools, but you can really “do more with less” making life easier for you and your team. 

Incident IQ and Trafera have created just that tool for improving the sustainability of your 1:1 program. 

Just launched, the Trafera integration within Incident IQ gives you access to your Trafera warranties straight from the IIQ platform. By combining the best of Incident IQ asset management and ticketing tools with Trafera’s K-12 technology warranty, the integration can help you improve data accuracy, governance, and device maintenance with a single tool. 

Best of all, it’s completely free for Incident IQ and Trafera customer. 

Want to learn more? Visit for the full scoop and steps for getting it set up or sign up to receive more info using the form below. 

Want To Go Even Deeper with 1:1?

Ed-tech is getting more complex by the day, and implementing it in an impactful way is complicated, too. Let’s set up a time to chat through your school’s technology ecosystem. I would love to show you some of the strategies I used, as well as some new ones, for making the biggest splash possible with your K-12 technology investments. 

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