The following is a post to my online mentoring group about laptop schools.
As the future of edtech seems to be a computer for every student, I wanted to open a discussion on laptops schools. We are not a laptop school and as I stated in our last face to face, hope that we don’t “officially” become one in the sense that we are supplying the laptops for all the students. That being said, it may still be a reality in the future. I would love to here what the thoughts of the group are on this topic. I have some anecdotal evidence that has formed my opinion on this subject but don’t really have any solid information.
I am hoping that our school will become a “laptop school” in a untraditional way- provide the access and invite the students to bring their computers and join our network. This seems to be working well so far. That being said, if the only thing that is being done with the computer is write papers, look up information and prepare presentations, then I wonder about the wisdom of every student with a computer. What will change in the classroom when each student has a computer with them? How will the teaching methods change? What will the students be asked to do with their computers? How will this change the way learning takes place?
On a more grounded note, what are the new policies in laptop schools? What about maintenance of computers that are purchased by the students through the school? Are there changes in the AUP? What restrictions are in place if any regarding software on the laptops? These are just a few questions. I am sure the group can come up with many more to make a lively discussion. I would love to find some studies done regarding the change process and learning related to laptop schools.
At this time, I have little answers and lots of questions. There is no doubt in my mind that every student should have a computer in their hands in today’s educational environment. However, placing the computer in their hands will not increase learning. I would think there would also need to be a change in teaching methods. That being said, are teachers willing to change their methods, methods that have been used for hundreds of years. Methods that where used by our teachers? From what I can see, effective use of laptops in schools will mean that teachers will need to give up a lot of control in the learning environment. While I personally believe that is a good thing, I am sure there are many; teachers, administrators and parents alike, that are not comfortable with the loss of control in the learning environment. I would imagine that there would even be teachers that would be very restrictive in the use of the computer during class.
While early predictions saw the personal computer revolutionizing education, little has changed. However with the advent and availability of wireless and laptop computers, we may still get to see the change that was predicted back in the mid 60’s. Time will tell if policy and people will allow the change.