Mark Brumley sent me this link this morning:

My first thoughts are:

1. Just because you are using laptops instead of desktops wouldn't necessarily change the fact that most educational computing is not transformative in any way. I'm very interested in hearing from those who know more than I do about 1:1 laptop programs, since I would imagine that pedagogy, not technology, is the key to success in these programs.

2. This reminds me of the recent study on educational software. Again, if computing just mimics the current teaching methodologies, how could you expect a change?

3. I think there is some good, common sense buried in this mess. Until you have teachers who are prepared to really integrate the technology into what they do, using a tool like Moodle, or the collaborative tools of Web 2.0, handing out a lot of laptops is probably exactly the wrong thing to do, and will result in exactly what the article describes.

In my to-read-more-carefully pile is an article that I think really relates to the current use of technology in schools:

I sent these notes to some online friends for discussion, and Andy Carvin said that he is right now blogging about this for his PBS blog (


Views: 244

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Hey Steve! I just commented on this article in my first blog post. I think this link will work:

I'm with you and your point #2 especially. What did they expect? That said, I am familiar with and was subject to a lot of the propaganda surrounding this 10-15 years ago and it sounded pretty good then. It just seems silly now. I used to think Cliff Stoll was just a fuddyduddy but he looks wise in retrospect.
Why would anyone want a laptop? Laptops are like CDs, an intermediary step from content being something you HAVE to something you ACCESS. Instead of 1:1 meaning a laptop for every student, let's promote 1:1 as NETWORK ACCESS for every student. Why carry a laptop when you could carry a phone or a token to log-in to a secure, personalized, ubiquitous learning environment?
I was reminded of a very interesting description of ed tech that is working in Indiana that I posted recently. It was the account of Greg DeKoenigsberg from Red Hat who was visiting Indiana, where they have a fascinating program to bring access to students, but by using inexpensive desktop boxes built into the desks. Worth a look, I think.
That is some really great stuff, Steve. Thanks for pointing me to it. I know they are totally different but the phrase 'computers in desks' immediately makes me think of Prof. Skinner and his 'teaching machines'.
This just in:.......
“After seven years of using pencils in the classroom there was literally no evidence it had any impact on student achievement — none," said school board member in one of the first districts in our state to experiment with putting pencils directly into students’ hands.
“The teachers were telling us when there’s a one-to-one relationship between the student and the pencil, the stick gets in the way. It’s a distraction to the educational process.”
A high school senior, said his pencil made him “a lot better at writing,” as he used it to take notes in class, but not a better student. “I think it’s better to wait and buy one for college,” he said.
lol! That is great. I needed to laugh. The article in the NYTimes was so frustrating.

Why can't we at least report on the schools with successful implementations? And when are we going to understand as educators and the public that technology isn't just going to go away? I've already said this elsewhere but we'd better start preparing for the age of mobile student devices, because it's right around the corner. And instead of reporting on schools giving up, why not report on schools trying to solve the problems, which so often are implementation problems? I'd like to seem some reporting on the positive effects of technology for high school students on the front page of the NYTimes.

I ranted about this in much more depth on my blog, so I won't go into all of it again here. ( Thanks for creating this thread!
While I admit this is amusing, the analogy has always been weak. The laptop is not the new pencil. Its a gross oversimplification that is fine in a humorous context but breaks down when examined. It is like saying that the jet is the new horse...true, but only in the narrowest sense. Both are methods of transportation but the experience of "getting there" is immeasurably different. (Nothing personal intended, REMC, just something that riles me.)
Agreed. As I said, no personal aspersions implied. Just that the new pencil thing makes me crazy...
I taught at a laptop school and found there were both benefits and drawbacks (like when I had spent so much time on integrating the laptops into my lesson and the network was down). You're right-- pedagogy makes the difference, but the technology can be effective if used well.
@Karen - Your point about the laptop being the means to network access is a key piece to the puzzle. The laptop is not just about having access the vast resources of the Internet, but to the places and people that it allows us to meet and learn from. I mentioned this in McClain's post about this issue too. It seems that a laptop is very expensive to maintain and to purchase as a replacement for a pencil and an encyclopedia. If we think in terms of a cost-to-benefit ratio (which we must given the limited resources education will likely always be competing for), the laptops have to provide an educational advantage that is clearly superior to the cheaper alternatives or can we honestly say they are worth it?

Time will tell whether traditional technology models, 1:1 initiatives, or perhaps other models (such as thin-client programs or phone/handheld) will demonstrate the greatest educational value per dollar. I believe the 1:1 is the ideal and ultimately the most educational advantageous solution, but only when it is tied with the teaching and learning strategies that can make it such.
Steve, the Gary Stager piece you reference "Has educational computing jumped the sharK?" is an outstanding read. Worthy of its own discussion. Thanks.
The points you make about the laptop article are terrific. It's very frustrating to see such a great newspaper print such a one-sided story.



Win at School

Commercial Policy

If you are representing a commercial entity, please see the specific guidelines on your participation.





© 2022   Created by Steve Hargadon.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service