Teach to One

As a teacher I have always been concerned that a teach to the mean. I am aware that for some students in my classes the people that know the material will be bored and for the people that find the material difficult they will be left behind. As a result of this reflection I was quite interested when I recently heard of the concept of teach to one (TtO).

Individualized learning is not new and was pioneering many years ago with the evolution of multimedia technologies as Computer Based Training (CBT). The idea was that material could be developed and presented, associated with the curriculum, by a computer program. After the material was presented to the student in computer software, a quiz was given and based on their results they moved on if they mastered the material or if they did not do well on the quiz they were re-presented the material in a different way and then quizzed again. This process continued until the student attained mastery learning of the material. The CBT administrator determined when students advanced and controlled which lessons and quizzes were presented. These projects were abandoned because of the development costs.

TtO looks like a resurgence of this technology. Ready, et.al., (2013), studied an ethnically diverse group of 2,264 students taking middle school mathematics and reported that students performed significantly better than traditionally taught students. Math may be one of those subjects that lends itself to CBT.

Rose, (2017), points out that since the early days of the introduction of the computer to the classroom the skills and expectations of students has changed. While basic computer skills have evolved in students, in that they are not fascinated with technology for technologies sake, students today are still exposed to using pure tutorial and drill and practice programs.

It has been said that the best way to learn is to teach. Druin, (2002), and many others have suggested using the computer as the learner and the student teaches the computer. This model is referred to as the “tutee model” and while it does not receive much attention I think it is a critical component in development of software for education. The Internet makes this technology very feasible.

One thing is for sure, educational software development is in its infancy. From a simple business marketing point of view, if you want to sell something find out what the customer wants. What gets students excited about learning, what games, what method of delivery, what environments? In my opinion, “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego” worked for many young people. Even Kevin O’Leary’s company, SoftKey had many good programs that appealed to students.

Ready, D. D., Meier, E. B., Horton, D., Mineo, C. M., & Yusaitis Pike, J. M. (2013, Nov). Student

mathematics performance in year one implementation of Teach to One: Math. New York: Center

for Technology and School Change.


Druin, A. (2002). The role of children in the design of new technology. Behaviour & Information Technology, 21(1), 1-25.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *