Mark Brumley sent me this link this morning:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/04/education/04laptop.html?_r=3&...

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: http://stager.org/articles/acecshark2006.html

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 Learning.now blog (http://www.pbs.org/teachers/learning.now/).

Thoughts?

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Interesting that this post is generating so much input. I am in a 1:1 school district and let me quickly explain that I was not necessarily a supporter of the program up front. I thought it was expensive and would be too prone to tech glitches to be worthwhile. Now, the program is successful and working well for everyone involved. However, you need the following: dedicated teachers, dedicated mentors, dedicated administration and a dedicated IT department. Our notebook schools have an "on-site" technician. Yes we have repairs and glitches, but every school was provided a spare pool of notebooks to manage a fast turn around of notebooks if needed. Our notebooks are transported via backpack only (no notebooks being carried and dropping out of hands). Our network is solid and locked up. Every notebook is constantly monitored for violations. Our notebooks were provided free of charge to the students (they are not allowed to take them home). Teachers are provided constant access to mentors(like me) to help integrate technology in the classroom. Professional development was provided in advance of the program and is on-going. Parents were involved via up-front meetings and updates. Collaborative projects (students are now writing an original novel on-line as a group), project based learning, higher order thinking are all taking place. Could this have been done without 1:1 notebooks. Sure, if you don't mind waiting weeks to book a computer lab with ancient computers and a layout not conducive to learning. We now have virtual "anytime learning". It works.

What about student achievement? OK, you cannot judge student achievement by a mark on a test(my personal belief). We took the belief that if we used the technology properly that all students would increase achievement. The program allows students with learning disabilities particular advantages that we never even thought of. I can't speak for all 1:1 notebook projects, but neither can the NY Times! Balanced reporting would include other districts where this program is working and expanding as well.

The notebook is not the end all be all of learning in the classroom. It is a tool for the teacher to increase engagement, meet the 21st century learner at their level and, after time, become an integral part of the classroom environment. Properly implemented and managed (yes it requries lots of resources and worth every penny in my opinion), 1:1 notebook programs are forward thinking. There's my 2cents worth.
It would be excellent if you and Chris Lehman wrote letters to the Times about your schools. The article was very one-sided, and it'd be great to hear the other point of view!
My pencil analogy seemed to hit a button with some, no offense taken by the way. You all have a valid point. A pencil is not a computer. But there is more to it of course. It is all about the process of adopting a new technology which the pencil was at one point. If you read Larry Cuban's book "Teachers and Machines: the Classroom Use of Technology since 1920". In Amazon a reviewer writes: "Cuban reviews the attempts to adopt technology into American classrooms throughout the 20th century. Moving pictures, radio, TV, and other technology-based improvements were loudly acclaimed to herald a new paradigm for education. All attempts failed to make a dent in established curriculum and teaching. Cuban analyzes these failures, and applies his ideas to the current wave of technology edu-euphoria, the computer."
Now you can debate whether his premise is valid or not ( the book has a copyright of 1986) and that would make for a good discussion but my point is that there is a process surrounding adoption of new technologies that sometimes have little to do with the "box" but with the interest groups, vendors, culture, educators, parents, boards of ed, community values, teenagers, government and a whole set of societal and institutional barriers. Just saying it is more than about the teaching because if it were that simple we would have achieved true technological integration before this.
One of the teachers in my learning community decided to take this discussion to the learners! His sixth graders, who have had laptops for the past two years, are writing their own responses to the New York Times, and to us in our learning community. When they hit our classroom blog site, I'll post some of them out for you to read.
Our response as educators to "The art of thinking is being lost," is, "What are the questions that you are asking students to answer? Whether or not they have laptops and ubiquitous access, the answer to deep learning is directly related to the depth of the questions you want students to be able to answer!"
Great idea, Linda - can't wait to see them.

By the way, Gary Stager (author of the article Steve linked to in the original post) is having a good conversation with David Warlick (and others - I saw Carolyn's name go by, yeah Classroom 2.0!).

Post yesterday (be sure to open the comments) and today.
:)

Linda--I agree, what a great idea!

And I completely agree with your comment about the questions we are asking students to answer.

We have to work with students to design questions that ask for the deeper answers.

A hidden issue here is that the district perhaps did not come together as a community and look for the deeper answers to their own problems with laptops. It's easier to blame it on the technology, rather than the implementation, but it is short-sighted, and then no one learns from the experience, other than to "put the technology away."
This is not a web 2.0 response. It's more like a 1986 response. This quotation in the article intrigued me:
“Where laptops and Internet use make a difference are in innovation, creativity, autonomy and independent research,” he said. “If the goal is to get kids up to basic standard levels, then maybe laptops are not the tool. But if the goal is to create the George Lucas and Steve Jobs of the future, then laptops are extremely useful.”

I know this sounds almost luddite, but one job the computer is great at is record keeping. Teachers hate record keeping because it eats their time. Some updated PLATO math drills would help teachers cluster their kids for error correction, etc. A subject area specialist and a clever programmer could design multiple choice questions so that certain answers indicate a common mathematical error. You, over here for factor of 10 errors. You over there for multiplying when you should have divided.

Teachers only adopt tech when it lightens their load -- think telephone and two way p.a. system. I wouldn't take much to imagine a few innovative record keeping things a 1:1 program could do. Take attendance & report it to the main office, for one, while also allowing the teacher to monitor just what the kids are looking at. Allow non-intrusive messages to get to kids ("Jerry, your mom is picking you up at 1 for the Dr. appointment").
There is a scene in the Harry Potter 3 in which a maid knocks on the door, while announcing HouseKeeping! The door opens, and a loud growl with a massive blast of air rushes out almost blowing the maid over. The door slams shut and she says, "I think I'll come back tomorrow." I think schools are that maid. Technology changes rapidly, demands on the school's resources and time increase, decisions about networks-laptops-handhelds-web filters-IWBcurriculumteachingmethodologyvideo hit schools and teachers the same way as that scene. Gary Stager has been around a long time.He has taught, traveled and fought the good fight many, many, times in his articles and speeches. His points make me think, but like the participant on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, I want to poll the audience, call a friend. I want to know what's the right thing to buy, to use, to teach, to learn. I just don't want to feel like, "I think I"ll come back tomorrow."

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