Dropping Laptop Programs

The New York Times article Seeing No Progress, Some Schools Drop Laptops has been getting a lot of attention in the EdTech blogosphere. I have been using the article as a discussion starter with students. Both sections of my 9th grade tech class, and the one 8th grade section I teach have had lively discussions on the article.

We started by identifying the main reasons cited for dropping laptop programs: cost, bad behavior using the laptops, technical support difficulties, and no proven educational benefit.

Then students were asked to critique the rationale reported on in the article. Most students argued that there were many holes in the arguments. Mainly they used their own experiences as students in a 1:1 laptop school to counter the reasoning. The one that seemed to frustrate them most was the lack of proven educational benefits. Almost every student said the laptop has helped them in their student lives, and had testimony as backup.

The students could actually barely finish reading the short article because they were so incensed by the writing. They immediately wanted to counter each sentence they came upon. Afterwards, they explained that their urgency was because they were afraid we would listen to The Times and get rid of our laptop program.

I am an ed tech evangelist much of the time, but when I think about it, it is rarely to/for students. It is for teachers, for administrators and for parents. It was quite a breath of fresh air to hear students voicing why they want laptops in their school.

One student: “They make it seem like walls are crashing down in laptop schools. Why don’t they come see our school to see how well it can work? I think we use laptops perfectly.”

In related news, this week we interview Lorrie Jackson from the Laptop Institute on 21st Century Learning. Tune in to EdTechTalk.com to listen to the episode.

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arvind s. grover

I am a progressive educator, a podcaster (EdTechTalk.com/21cl), a blogger, and dean of faculty of JK-11 school (building a high school) in New York City.