Laptops, Schools, and Learning

Perhaps you've heard about the recent article in the New York Times, "Seeing no progress, some schools drop laptops". That is, students had not shown any improvement "on grades and test scores" as a result of laptop initiatives. Alex Reid at Digital Digs has an excellent response:

So basically the teachers couldn't figure out how to use the technology in the classroom. Not surprisingly, as a result, the technology did not have much of an impact on outcomes. It is not surprising that the teachers have no idea what they are doing. Why would we imagine that they would? ...

As I've said before and will say again (here and later, no doubt), it's not about delivering the same old curriculum with a new technology.

Why should I use books in my classroom? Lecturing works much better. Students hide magazines inside the covers of their books. They look at the wrong pages. They copy text out of the book and plagiarize. They can't do any of those things when I'm lecturing. The book is just a box that gets in the way of my one-to-one relationship with my students.

Sounds pretty funny when it's put that way, huh?

As Reid notes, it's not clear that laptops will aid learning effectively; however, "our children will live and work, and yes, learn, in these networked environments." So, it's not a question of whether to incorporate technology into our schools. But two questions we do need to answer are:

  1. What are the best ways to introduce our children to the networked environments they will "live and work" in?
  2. What are the best ways to introduce our teachers to using networked environments to facilitate learning in school?