Wanted to get down some of the big ideas (and fast facts) that have come up over the past two days at the Laptops 4 Learning Forum. There is so much I could say – and will say, in some more blog posts over the coming week. For now…
- Schools should work toward developing a ‘digital culture’ by using technologyas a tool, rather than scheduling technology events. The laptops should become part of the learning environment, like pens, papers and whiteboards.
- Laptop use in schools has the potential to make classes and projects more student-centred. The increased capacity for project-based learning through connectivity (and nifty software) can mean that the technology can have a positive impact on pedagogy.
- Teachers will need to develop their skills in classroom management to accomodate problems with the technology…but this is no reason to give up or shy away. We already do this when the photocopier breaks, or the OHP bulb blows!
- Laptops are exciting, and the potential for student engagement is huge. Rather than facing their work and asking “why do I have to do it?”, this will get them asking “can I do it this way?” (This great point from Steven Plummer, who is leading the English KLA project)
- Barbara Bober gave us a great metaphor – some teachers will be like Formula 1 drivers with the technology; most will ordinary, but competent and perhaps even excited drivers or smaller vehicles (to extend the metaphor for those who worry about teachers losing control in laptop lessons – in this metaphor, the teacher is still the driver!)
- When planning, we should consider how the laptops will impact on the students, the teachers, the pedagogy, and classroom management. All are important factors
- There isn’t a need to re-invent the wheel. As well as imagining new and foreign possibilities, we should be looking at current curriculum and pedagogy and asking: what can be enriched?
- Ken Olah explained that feedback to kids has the largest correlation (1.4) with increased student learning. Imagine the opportunities for feedback that constant access to personal laptop creates!
- It will be a bit messy to start off with…but it is worth it.
In one panel discussion two students talked about what they saw as the benefits of having and using laptops. They suggested:
- Being able to do bits of work ‘here and there’, rather than only being able to access desktop computers at certain times will relieve some stress around homework and assignmetns
- Homework etc. will be more easily recorded in a school diary or calendar on the laptops
- Work can be saved, and easily shared – no more lost sheets or notes if you are away
- Having computer access at school. Students reported often having trouble getting into a computer lab or finding a free computer in the library
- Assiting group work outside of school hours
- Better access to whole school information – they suggested school notices being distributed electronically.
- Students will get their laptops in Term 3. Teachers will get theirs before students do, probably in July.
- Wireless is getting installed in April, and this is bound to be a bit disruptive. Libraries plus one classroom will get it first.
- Every school will get one full-time technical officer to support laptop use. There is a 4 year funding commitment from federal governemt for this, and this person is employed regardless of whether your school already has ‘an IT person’ – their sole job is to support the laptops
- Schools will have spare batteries and laptops for students to use if they don’t have their laptops (and policies will be in place to curtail repeat offenders)
- Students are expected to charge their laptops overnight and bring them charges to school.
- Operating system is Windows XP
- Software installed is Microsoft Office 7 (standard suite plus One Note) and Adobe (Connect, Presenter, Captivate, Photoshop Elements, Premier Elements, Dreamweaver, Flash and Acrobat Professional)
- Disk size is 160 GB, but about 50 GB of this is used up with the software
- The Lenovo laptops have two USB ports, an Ethernet port, Bluetooth an SD memory card reader, and an inbuilt webcam
As I said, there is so much more information to come. In the meantime, enjoy a peek at the new laptop