Are we finally over "STUDENT + LAPTOP = SUCCESS"?

UPDATE: Steve has some thoughts about this piece HERE

Interesting piece about several public schools who have decided to discontinue their programs that give/rent laptops to students. Title: "Seeing No Progress, Some Schools Drop Laptops" by Winnie Hu.

“After seven years, there was literally no evidence it had any impact on student achievement — none,” said Mark Lawson, the school board president here in Liverpool, one of the first districts in New York State to experiment with putting technology directly into students’ hands.

No surprise there, really. The question is, as always, what are the methods of determining 'student achievement?'. We all know the answer to that: "Yet school officials here and in several other places said laptops...showed little, if any, measurable effect on grades and test scores at a time of increased pressure to meet state standards."

That these schools would introduce laptops and expect them to increase 'achievement' WITHOUT AT THE SAME TIME REVISING THEIR MODES OF ASSESSMENT is no surprise either.

After all, it isn't as if students actually did SCHOOL WORK on these computers:

"The students at Liverpool High have used their school-issued laptops to exchange answers on tests, download pornography and hack into local businesses. When the school tightened its network security, a 10th grader not only found a way around it but also posted step-by-step instructions on the Web for others to follow (which they did)."

Hilarious!!!

I can maybe see how, several years ago when the laptop program was put in place, the school board/admin couldn't/didn't see this coming. But today, when Myspace/Facebook/Runescape/etc. fanboys and girls constitute the majority of students at schools like my daughter's public middle school, I honestly can't see ANY reason why anyone would advocate giving/renting laptops to students.

Do any (good) reasons for doing this still hold up?

P.S. Check out the pic which accompanies this article. Great PR for Liverpool High!

Views: 25

Comment by Brett Hinton on May 4, 2007 at 4:08pm
Well I sure hope there are good reasons to do it, because I get the chance to be a part of a pilot small high school in my school district who are opening with grade 7-9 (but will go up to 7-12 in subsequent years) and will be 1:1 next year. The Science and Leadership Academy would also be a useful school to consider perhaps a model that is working (though the NY Times did have a couple of references to positive outcomes). I guess my main conclusion from this is, that if we just give laptops to students and then continue to teach using the same model as we have in the past, that we will probably be largely unsucessful with it and will have spent a bundle of money backing that fact up.

Could we say then that laptops are an expensive (and distracting) replacement for a pencil and an encyclopedia?
Comment by SparklingDrift on May 4, 2007 at 4:27pm
I was unsure if you were being ironic. Do you mean that laptops are distracting and ineffective? Or, are you saying that laptops could be useful if we changed how we assessed students and what we measured?

My school has just begun laptop 1-to-1 and there are some definite headaches. If I have to say laptops down one more time, I may flip out. But, I've also had awesome video lessons, done International videoconferencing, blogs, wikis, and internet research. And the change in one year is amazing. It couldn't have been done without a one-to-one.
Comment by McClain Watson on May 4, 2007 at 5:06pm
I was being ironic but after reading my post again I can see how you would be unsure.

I certainly would not say that 'laptops are distracting and ineffective' because that would imply that I think laptops will always and forever be 'distracting and ineffective'. I do not think this but I just don't see how you can get beyond the sorts of problems Liverpool High School had.

I would be interested to hear what you two (Brett and SD) do to mitigate the "laptops down!" problem.

Obviously many kids are not going to concentrate completely in class. Does having a laptop in front of them simply make it easier for these students to tune out?

Steve posted a great report about an experience he had visiting Indiana schools. Ya'll should check it out:
http://www.stevehargadon.com/2007/04/seeing-ed-tech-really-working-in.html

Best of luck to you both

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