The Laptop Revolution Has No Clothes
For many years, I have been a skeptic about putting computers in classrooms to transform teaching and learning. Sure, I got called lots of names from champions of desktops and vendors—“Luddite” being the more printable one—but I always considered the source. My reasons for being dubious were simple: No evidence was available for improved learning, better teaching, and students’ getting high-salaried jobs after graduation to justify large expenditures to wire buildings, buy hardware, and crow about high-tech schooling. But in the past few years, much of the name-calling has faded.
Now, conversations about computers in schools have become less testy than exchanges I had a decade ago. As fiscal retrenchment has reduced school budgets, there is far more willingness on the part of ardent promoters to consider answering tough questions: Why don’t teachers integrate the new technologies into their daily instruction? How much of the technology budget is devoted to on-site professional development and technical support of teachers? Why is it so hard to show that teachers’ use of classroom technologies has caused gains in academic achievement? That these questions could be asked now and thoughtfully considered is encouraging.
Except when it comes to one-to-one computing and the spread of laptops nationwide. In this area, I hear again the outlandish claims of technology champions that giving each student a laptop will revolutionize teaching and learning—and, yes, increase...
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