Friday, May 04, 2007

Laptops in School

Article in the New York Times this morning on laptops in school, that schools are dropping their laptop programs because they seem to be causing more problems than successes. One school board president says "After seven years, there was literally no evidence it had any impact on student achievement--none." And some students were using the laptops to cheat, download porn, and IM each other rather than for educational purposes (shocked, I am, to hear this). Schools are also having to deal with the fact that laptops break and they are now in charge of repairing hundreds of laptops. And teachers now have to help with laptop problems as well as try to focus on lessons.

This doesn't mean that laptops don't have their uses in schools, just that perhaps they don't provide a blanket technological fix to education and educational achievement. It also shows the extent to which a technology is never simply the material machine but its support technologies (repair, supplies, upgrades) and social and cultural behaviors. They're useful for some types of learning, but not all.

I'm not against laptops in school. I'm just interested in the wave of enthusiasm which has been throwing money at laptop programs for over a decade and that some are stepping back and reflecting.

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