I was skeptical when I was told that every student in my school was to be issued a laptop and that I was supposed to create authentic learning experiences that incorporated the laptops. I balked at the idea that students should automatically be given something so valuable, but as a Project First Class school the funding allowed for this and was dependent upon it.
My entire opinion of student laptops was about to change and my range of teaching was about to be stretched. While it did take a little extra effort on my part, the use to student laptops actually enhanced the learning environment for our entire school, thereby raising test scores in many classes.
SECURITY: The use of student laptops does mean extra policing for the teacher, but there are also ways to keep the students on the right websites and in check. Programs like Remote Desktop allow the teacher to see what websites all the students are on at any given time. This way the students know that their screens are being monitored at all times.
TECHNOLOGY: The use of student laptops on a daily basis actually gives them the opportunity to practice their technology skills and apply them to learning situations. They familiarize themselves with search engines and how to conduct research on the web in addition to honing their typing skills.
COLLABORATION: Laptops might seem to isolate students, but there is actualy a real spirit of collaboration that occurs as students ask each other questions and work in groups. As each person in a group is given a specific task on a webquest or research project, students actually learn to share ideas and work as a team.
RESEARCH SITES: There are specific sites dedicated to students who use laptops on a daily basis. These websites encourage critical thinking skills through research and investigation. Webquests are very popular and students learn very quickly how to navigate through them in order to get the most pertinent information. Here are a few of my favorite websites that I know enhance learning experiences in the classroom:
In all the hubbub of the classroom, take a moment to sit back and reflect on the true purpose of teaching. As a teacher we create an environment that change as technology changes while staying true to the content and curriculum we teach. Incorporating laptops on a daily basis should be a welcome addition for both teacher and student.