Friday, May 04, 2007

How Much Do Student Laptops Contribute to K-12 Education?

Not much, apparently.


Scott said...

hmm...would students at my school (Miller knows which one) be allowed to bring laptops to school to study, or do research during school? the official rulebook states no electronic devices and lists examples with cell phones and MP3 plays (undertandably). But before that, it has the statement "including but not limited to" meaing laptops are included. So, if I brought a laptop to school to do research on my dead celebrety for my psychology project during lunch or so, would my "electronic device" be confiscated? Even though it was only helping me do my work?

JerichoFallsDown said...

I posted the following over at

I run an ed tech blog over at and so needless to say… i love education (I am a teacher) and I love technology. However, what this study has discovered should have been obvious, as stated already. Technology can never replace good pedagogy, yet we think that it will. We think that if we put an iPod or laptop into the hands of every student, these students will automatically become the best students you’ve ever seen. That’s ludicrous. If a student doesn’t care about his schoolwork now, give him a computer and all your doing is giving him one more thing to tinker around with instead of his homework. ’nuff said.

Darren said...

Exactly. Technology augments good pedagogy, it doesn't replace it.

It's a tool, not a panacea.

Law and Order Teacher said...

I make extensive use of PowerPoint to teach World History. I agree that no number of bells and whistles will replace good old-fashioned teaching. While the students like the graphics and pictures of the material they are learning, they still rely on my explanations to learn. That must be why we make the big bucks.

allen said...

Putting aside the notion that teaching is unique among human activities in being beyond mere technology, who's going to develop the technology? Where do you look for the scientists that'll uncover the basics of teaching and the engineers who'll take that knowledge and design products with it?

Whose interests are served by a breakthrough in educational technology and whose interests are injured? Which group is in a position to see most effectively to its interests, the "pro" forces or the "con" forces?

Maybe when the education system consists of people who don't have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo we'll see technological change but not before.

Law and Order Teacher said...

The thought that a teacher would not use technology to teach because it threatens their job security is absurd. We realize the status quo is not what we want. Anything that assists us in breaking the cycle that exists is of use to us. For you to insinuate that teachers go away from technology to preserve our jobs is akin to saying the Masons really run the world. Watch out for the black helicopters.

Ellen K said...

I love how state legislatures throw money for technology to schools then don't have funding for the teachers to learn the technology or even for enough teachers to oversee the use of technology. Technology is just a tool, like a calculator, or an abacus or flashcards or any tool that helps a student learn. And sometimes, technology is used as a carrot, when in reality, it's nothing without the personnel to run it properly.

allen said...

Who cares what you realize? You're not in a position to do anything about it. Your the little fish in the educational sea, the bottom rung of the ladder.

There's no tragedy in all those politicians and administrators not listening to you, that's the way it ought to be. The elected board sets policy, the administration implements policy and you do what you're damn well told. That's the way the system is put together. If you think teachers ought to have a bigger say in how the education system is run then you'd better get used to the system changing drastically because that's the only way the influence of teachers is going to increase.

Oh, and as a teacher, you're not the public education system. There are lots of people who are the public education system and are not teachers. In that group, the administrators, elected officials, teachers and ed school profs, which group would benefit from the successful introduction of technology into public education?

And let's be clear about the goal and effect of technology everywhere else it's been put to use: improved productivity. That means, in part, canning people. Any of the aforementioned groups likely to embrace a technology that would impact the number of employees required? Not just the number of teachers understand, but any employees?

Keeping firmly in mind the reason technology's embraced and who embraces it, where would the average teacher stand if that productivity came to education? Happy to support a technology that'll cost them their jobs if it means a better education for all kids? Maybe but it would make teachers unique in the history of labor. Perhaps your point of view allows you to see this exceptional nobility but from where I sit teachers seem to approximate the general run of humanity; a couple of scumbags, a couple of super-teachers and a whole lot of very ordinary people in between.

By the way wise guy, there are real black helicopters, you just have to know where to look for them.

Law and Order Teacher said...

By the way there really are Masons too. Again I say that teachers I know would not, and do not run from technology because they fear losing their jobs to a computer. We embrace technology at our school, however, we cannot afford to give each student a laptop because we have to beg for money through votes for tax levies. We have one on the ballot tomorrow. I use technology every time I can to teach my students. There just is a limit to using technology instead of the personal contact each student deserves to help him/her learn.

allen said...

Again I say that teachers I know would not, and do not run from technology because they fear losing their jobs to a computer.

I guess then we'll have to agree to disagree. I would like to point out two things:

1) history's on my side. Maybe there've been instances where people displaced by machines have quietly walked off the job but none spring to mind. That's not an indictment, it's just an observation about a human reaction to a scary situation. Your livelihood is going away and the reaction is to resist.

Are teachers/teaching the exception to that rule? Dunno. Don't know when we will know but if there's evidence for that exceptionalism, I haven't seen it and it sure hasn't been tested yet.

2) Teachers can afford to be dismissive of a threat that's proved repeatedly to be hollow.

There just is a limit to using technology instead of the personal contact each student deserves to help him/her learn.

That'd be a more credible assertion if you had any proof that "the personal contact" is necessary in order for the student to learn. That personal contact may be a necessity when kids are forced to endure each other's company for hours every day but that's not teaching, that's lion-taming.

I don't know whether computers will turn out to be the panacea that some folks are so quick to dismiss but the public education system isn't where we'll find out what computers are capable of.

Law and Order Teacher said...

I appreciate your well thought out position on this issue. You obviously have given it a lot of thought. That doesn't mean that I agree, however. The special attention I am referring to is for those low achieving students public schools must teach in addition to those high achievers we have to keep under control because they are bored nearly to death as a result of our attention to the low achievers. I love the fact that public schools try to do everything. This dichotomy is what I am referring to when I speak of individual attention. Public schools do not have the luxury of saying we will educate some but not all. Every kid deserves the best possible education. I just don't think a computer can differentiate between children and their needs. There's where the human touch can not be replaced.