Laptops an Impact on Student Learning!
In order to empower students to become lifelong learners in a world of increasingly fast-paced change, laptops would provide them with endless opportunities. They would provide students with their own personal lab for exploration and expression. The challenge to educate a workforce prepared to meet the skill requirements of the 21st century is complex and will require the collaboration of many segments of our society. We, as teachers, are responsible for meeting this challenge. As we examine the impact of laptops in education we must “understand that time is needed to produce a cognitive transformation in a student.” Therefore, it is essential for teachers, students, and parents to have constructive dialogue about technology in education.
When providing all students at school with laptops, the pros and cons must be examined. The needs of teachers, students, administration, parents, curriculum, teaching styles, technological support, and budgets all have to be carefully addressed. However, I believe we can no longer expect students to wait for a once a week (maybe even longer) opportunity to use the school computer lab. In today’s society, almost everyone has technology at his/her disposal. Likewise, the days of students waiting for their turn to use technological tools must also come to an end. Even though I do not believe that technology alone is the answer to the challenges facing education today, it can open the door for teachers to provide their students with an abundant supply of resources and endless opportunities. The following partial quote from NCLB legislature certainly supports the idea of providing all students with laptops, “To ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain high standards and state academic assessments.” Laptops would provide universal access so that all students would have technology available to them daily regardless of their family’s economic status. It is essential that all students have access to appropriate tools and to a challenging curriculum in order to bridge the gap by progressing beyond basics and towards 21st century skills.
Since today’s students are growing up in a digital environment, without availability to and integration of technology into their curriculum, they will find their schoolwork irrelevant in regards to the world in which we live. It was reported in the Laptops for Learning report, “Almost 100 million young people born between 1976 and 2000 will come to adulthood having grown up with the Internet and the use of digital technologies” (Blake, 2003). Students must be provided tools that will stimulate learning which in turn will hopefully enable them to achieve higher level skills. Additionally “Content must be taught in a 21st century context with the use of relevant and real world examples, applications, and settings to frame academic content for students, enabling them to see the connections between their studies and the world in which they live.” Partnership for 21st Century Skills
Laptops provide students with a means to become active learners and not just passive receivers of information. With laptop computers, students can research and explore areas of interest, collaborate with others across the room or across the globe, and work on projects/assignments beyond school. I feel a laptop can be the single most important factor in contributing toward a student becoming an active learner. An individual laptop for students outweighs a computer lab for many reasons but most importantly, for the simple fact that labs are often used just to deliver instruction or provide isolated information to students. Laptops would on the other hand empower students with the tool to take responsibility for their own learning.
Laptops would also allow teachers the benefit of on-going assessment. Teachers would be able to evaluate mastery more closely and also make individual assessment an intrical part of day-to-day instruction. Thus, laptops would benefit a teacher’s instructional delivery as well as a student’s opportunity to explore higher levels of learning. Through the daily use of technology, teachers would have access to a student’s understanding which would allow them an opportunity to give students immediate feedback on their progress.
Even though high costs would be involved, some savings would include: teacher printing one copy of everything for each student, student printing (projects can be completed in color without additional cost also), roll-up maps/charts/visuals would no longer need to be purchased, nor would there be the cost of maintain a computer lab.
In today’s educational realm, teachers are expected to create classroom environments where students use higher order thinking, engage in questioning, and collaborate; therefore, what better way to promote this learning than by providing each student with access to a laptop. Laptops could be a compelling force for change in teaching practices. “very quickly, an observer in a laptop classroom would see that there is less lecture and more individual and group project work…Students can do more work on their own and at their own pace, and the teachers can act more as consultants to them, offering individualized suggestions, mid-course corrections, and more frequent assessments of individual and group progress” (Rockman, 2003). Yes, SmartBoards, ActiveBoards, Smart Phones, iPods, iPads, etc. are all beneficial sources of technology, but if a student had a laptop at his/her disposal, he/she could interact with these resources in the classroom as well. The video, Laptops for Learning, says it best, laptops will allow students the ability to discover, dream, explore, research, design, collaborate, create, and communicate.