Evaluating Laptop Programs
Schools (worldwide) with "one laptop per student" programs
Book: 1-to-1 Learning: Laptop Programs that Work (ISTE, 2006)
This new book (second edition of 2009 here ) is published by the 85,000+ member International Society for Technology in Education, "a nonprofit membership organization, [which] provides leadership and service to improve teaching, learning, and school leadership by advancing the effective use of technology in K–12 and teacher education." It sponsors the annual National Educational Computing Conference (NECC), the largest educational technology meeting in the US (of which Prof. Papert is recognized as one of a handful of "Pioneers".) Examine a free, online chapter, Individual School Programs
Is it true that The Laptop Revolution Has No Clothes? - Larry Cuban vs. Mark Cuban
In an op-ed column dated 10-18-06 which ran in Education Week, copied here, (and available to subscribers here), Prof. Larry Cuban of Stanford's School of Education argues that no convincing evidence exists that "computerizing" the educational experience of [United States] students has improved their education and in particularly asserts that
- One-to-one access has failed to show a direct link to improved test scores.
Commentary reflecting a variety of reactions to his op-ed is recorded here (edweek).
While Cuban's claim about the absence of evidence for the advantages of IT investment to date may be true, that is not to say that restructuring educational institutions to exploit IT to great advantage is impossible. Indeed, I have argued above that such restructuring is critically important. Personally, my intuition suggests that simply breaking the monopolistic strangle-hold of tax-supported tuition-free mandatory education would improve learning - some improvements would involve different IT investments, and others not.
And raising test scores may not be the only desirable improvement to seek. What if one could achieve the same test scores with fewer inputs - like fewer student years in school or lower per student expenditures for paid labor plus equipment?
I find Cuban's criticism that 1:1 laptop studies do not use the same teacher for both laptop and nonlaptop classes foolish. Why does he think two different ways of producing a desired output should be staffed by the same types and numbers of people when different capital gear is used? When we use the steam-driven machine we don't need John Henry's muscles: duh. Instead, Prof. Cuban's "experimental control" mentality betrays the implicit (medieval) assumption of the permanence of the extant educational workforce.
In closing, I'd like to quote another Mr. Cuban - Dot-com billionaire Mark Cuban, who in the March 20, 2006 issue of Time magazine is quoted so:
- In the past, you had to memorize knowledge because there was a cost to finding it. Now what can't you find in 30 seconds or less? We live an open-book-test life that requires a completely different skill set.
I don't think Mark Cuban believes one need not learn and remember anything. If you know nothing at all, you can neither pose questions nor understand answers. (cf. E. D. Hirsch's Cultural Literacy, ISBN 0394758439) But he makes a good point - in a wealthy society with a wireless Internet connection everywhere, life is an open-book-test.
Surely that is why an enterprise like Google was willing to finance a project like OLPC - it could potentially splatter millions more Internet-access terminals around the world, as well as train millions of people to know enough about computers to run Google queries. - Docdtv 06:41, 27 January 2007 (EST)
Education School resources
US public schools
More than a decade ago, schools began investing heavily in laptops at the urging of school boards and parent groups who saw them as the key to the 21st century classroom ...a study of the nation's 2,500 largest school districts last year... found that a quarter of the 1,000 respondents already had one-to-one computing, and fully half expected to by 2011.
In 2000, the governor got laptops for seventh graders despite that four out of five teachers were opposed. Later five of five approved. And truancy went to zero. What can we learn from this experiment in an environment we can presumably understand more easily? Nitpicker 07:52, 10 December 2006 (EST)
Ex-governor King of Maine, who established that state's laptop computer program, offered his evaluation of it in an AALF keynote address. A synopis by another party is found here. It is interesting to note these remarks:
If something doesn't work more than once or twice, the teachers will fold up the laptops and go back to the book... you can't spend too much time or money on professional development... This is not a hardware project. It's an educational project. This device is something that assists teachers, not replace[s] them. So you need to help teachers integrate it into the curriculum...
Current Maine Governor Baldacci, highlighted the laptop effort in his 2003 inaugural address here, saying:
And today, we have laptop computers in Maine classrooms, unlocking the imaginations of thousands of school children and earning Maine prominence and prestige around the world.
A scholarly evaluation of the program made through 2004 can be found here.
Apple, the contractor for the Maine laptop program, offers its spin here.
The first trial of the One Laptop Per Child concept was in Cambodia, starting in 2001. It was this experience that led Nicholas Negroponte to start OLPC.