Laptops improve learning in school

Jacques Cool summarizes (in French) the results of an 18 month laptop in the classroom initiative in northern New Brunswick, as told by the project director, Roberto Gauvin. [Here is my translation – any errors are mine alone]

The project brings people together (students, teachers, parents community).
Roberto’s approach changed over the past year from a focus on the technology to the pedagogy.
There were specific effects on learning, even if these were sometimes difficult to measure.
Even with access to some incredible resources, it was the teaching staff who made a difference, such as:

  • The discovery of individual talents (not just technology related)
  • The ability to surpass the constraints of the existing education system
  • The ability to seek out the timid students as well as the boys [read more about Smart Boys, Bad Grades]

The teachers moved from an initial phase of fear and apprehension to management of the tools and then to reflection on their teaching practices

I think that we’re starting to get beyond, “you don’t need any computers in school ’cause we didn’t have any”, to an understanding that portable computers open up a variety of pedagogical options not available in the industrial-age classroom.

Other posts on this site referring to laptops in school.

5 Responses to “Laptops improve learning in school”

  1. Wm Draves

    Harold, great post on laptops in school. Thanks for doing the work on translating it, and to Cool and Gauvin of course.

    Yes to laptops in all schools. And the finding that good teachers are the most important factor in any learning situation. Maybe we have a “human divide” rather than a “digital divide”?

    Reply
  2. graham watt

    america you didn’t have an America with television, you had a new america. when laptops come into the class room you don’t have a classroom with computers, you have a new classroom. Therefore,
    would you not have a new teacher as well? Just asking. In my experience, the things you really need to know in life aren’t found on
    the internet. As a word processor and neatening-up device, I’m all for it.
    And you’ll hear many parents exclaim how their child’s work has improved, i.e, looks great!
    Graham

    Reply
  3. graham watt

    Neil Postman has commented that when television came to America you didn’t have America with television, you had a new America. And when laptops come to the classroom you don’t have a classroom with laptops, you have a new classroom. Therefore, would you not have a new teacher as well? In my experience the things we really need to learn and know in life can’t be found on the internet. As a word processor and general neatening-up device I’m all for it. And you’ll hear many parents exclaim how their child’s work has improved, meaning it looks great (PowerPoint) How about the thinking, though?
    Thamus in response to Treuth

    Reply
  4. Harold

    Bill, you have a good point about the importance of teachers, because they use technologies that are discussed much less than the more visible computer technologies (Technology is the application of organized and scientific knowledge to solve practical problems).

    Graham, I really believe that our age of ubiquitous access to information requires a different approach to teaching and that our education system is becoming more and more an obstacle to learning.

    “The authority of those who teach is often an obstacle to those who want to learn.” – Cicero

    Reply
  5. graham watt

    I agree with both your points Harold. I merely sound a note of caution. However, 3 or 4% of the world’s information on the internet is hardly ubiquitous. I think the
    most promising aspect of laptops in schools is their ability to produce a neat, clean product. In other words, visual attributes. I know we need them, but we have to be able to think past them as we’re all immersed in our presentmindedness.
    “It is the purpose of education not to prepare children for their occupations but to prepare them against their occupations”.
    C.G. Sampson

    Reply

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