Laptops, Education and Common Sense- Really?
This article on laptops from ArsTechnica came to me last night via my dad. It amuses me how hard people are still making certain aspects of computers and education.
I’ll start with the K12 focus-
The 1:1 laptop programs do seem to help with the students’ ability to use the technology they’re exposed to, and a variety of studies show what might be an unexpected benefit: improved writing skills. Apparently, the ease of using a word processor, along with the ability to go back and modify things that would otherwise have been committed to paper, helps students learn how to write more coherent and persuasive text.
So, even with horrific and near sighted implementation plans students are still getting some benefit from laptops? That doesn’t entirely surprise me but it does point towards the resiliency of students and their ability to learn in spite of structures seemingly designed to impede them.
Outside of these areas, however, the benefits of 1:1 laptop availability are mixed. Different studies have found changes in math and science test performance that were inconsistent. In general, the authors argue, the benefits of laptops come in cases where the larger educational program has been redesigned to incorporate their unique capabilities, and the teachers have been trained in order to better integrate laptop use into the wider educational experience. Both of these processes are resource-intensive, and the degree of their success may vary from classroom to classroom even in a single school, which is likely to explain the wide variability in the results.
So, slapping technology on top of your old concepts and practices doesn’t magically make them better
?. It takes a lot of time and effort to get people thinking differently and even more effort/time/energy to get these thoughts to be applied well.
The last sentence makes me laugh- because the author seems almost surprised by the idea that even with all this effort and expense it still, at the end of the day, is up to the individual teacher. This seems to throw a horseshoe in the laptops = or ? learning equation. This was always a stupid conversation based on a really bad logic and driven by the media. The question should always have centered around the idea of good teachers and that good teachers ought to be taking advantage of all available resources to make their teaching better. Now how can we make better teachers or how can we change the structure so that students don’t end up so tied to the fickle fate of being in a certain class2 is a much better use of our time.
And now on to Kindergarten – oh, no- i guess that’s higher ed. I had to include this quote because I had to read it twice to really believe it said what it says.
Outright bans are unlikely to be a long-term solution as students’ reliance on digital technology is only likely to increase. One alternative—wandering the classroom to monitor what students are doing (used both at the University of Colorado-Boulder and West Point)—isn’t going to work in all contexts.
Wow. Banning laptops or having roving monitors to keep you on task. I’m not sure I can muster enough contempt for this kind of stupidity. It is sad to see the infantilization of students now extending into college.
Wandering monitors don’t work in any context. It’s dead simple to hide/show windows and I’d make it my mission to go off task with that sort of insulting nonsense going on.
I just don’t understand why this is so hard.
1 Apparently he’s the former director for the Office of Educational Technology for the U.S. Department of Education. I had no idea we even had one of those.
2 I don’t think I’ve ever seen this talked about. I’ve seen lots of stats showing that the teacher is the most important aspect of the classroom but I’ve never seen the inherent unfairness and unfortunate aspect of this addressed. Would student centered learning change this? I’m not sure.