Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Smaller Laptops for K-12 Students

One large school system in Texas is looking into shifting from its one laptop per student program to one PDA-laptop per student. These smaller computers will run $200-$500 apiece and weigh far less than the laptops students presently lug around. However, the smaller machines will have less storage capacity and smaller screens and keyboards.

Although the school district does not yet supply computers to younger children, they do get Alpa word processors. A small laptop model, though, is under consideration for younger students as the districts moves ahead with a bulk purchase of new equipment. Presently, all high school students receive laptops.

A central issue is teacher readiness to use the computers. Students complain teachers don't incorporate the technology in the classroom. Irving school administrators recognize teacher buy in is critical. Teachers must know how to use the computers effectively to make the investment work.

Ultimately, school administrators see the benefits of the expanded program as producing computer savvy students ready for the workforce and putting the technology in the hands of students who otherwise would not have the access.

To learn more about this district’s plan, read this recent Dallas News story, click on the hyperlink or the the URL:

4 comments:

Tony Ruiz said...

WOW! This is not a completely novel idea. There is a similar program like in E. Hartford at the Two-Rivers Magnet School. All kids have a laptop computer and send in their homework via e-mail. Teachers at the school say that they check all student work on the computer.

Like everything else, it will take some time for Irving's teachers to get used to the new system. Teachers will need to be trained and resources need to be aloocated to make this program successful. Teachers will need to pair up in teams where there is a geek-techie on board. It's imperative that teachers invest time into learning new systems if we are to going to graduate students in this Information Age society.

I understand the concerns the administration at Irving has. I remember when I started using computers. I respected their power and use, but feared working with one because I lacked understanding. But, look at us now in class. We can create webpages, hyperlinks and wonderful PPTs. WOW!

Again it takes time, but with each moment we learn more and get closer to our computer savvy students.

Tony Ruiz

Tina Miller said...

Tony speak for yourself in terms of being able to make wonderful powerpoints and hyperlinks to web pages. My concern when reading this article was the same issue that I encountered in corporate America, it is great to invest in this new technology but are you going to take the time to invest in the people who need to use it. Not only will the teachers need to be trained but that need to be given time to rpactice their new skills and become comfortable with them so that they will use them. They also need time to be able to learn about available software and how to incorporate the technology into their lessons. I think the issue is as much as the teachers not having time to start from scratch as it is not being comfortable with the software. I remember in my observations when I asked teachers about lesson plans they would often show me something that had been modfied in a number of years so where are they going to find the time to start from scratch with new technoloogy?

Debbie said...

To piggy-back off Tina's comment as well as the blog on the technology gap, it seems that as great as this new technology sounds, it leaves the question of teacher training unanswered. Just think of the way students "type" on these new computers...they use their thumbs, not all five fingers - just that fact alone will turn many type-writer trained veterans off from using the new technology. Yes, it sounds great, but Tina is right - schools need to consider the dual investment in time and money that needs to be made for teacher training. This sounds like a situation of something being "too good to be true" - cheaper, smaller computers may be a no-brainer, but there is a lot more to consider than the numbers when changing the technology of a school (is this why we move so slow?)

Meg H. said...

I agree with Tony, on the fact that teacher training will take time but when paired with a computer "techie" this shouldn't be as big of an issue as one would think.

Having worked in Texas where technology has been part of the classroom for quite sometime now, technology training was a priority. In addition we always had the computer "techie" as a resource. He or she was assigned to a builiding or a set number of classrooms to help aide in problem solving situations as they occurred. In addition, he or she was responsible for all the software and the funcioning of the computer. If something wasn't working and the "techie" wasn't able to help or aide in the situation, then someone else was called in. This way items were replaced or fixed immediately.

The problem in the Northeast is that school districts are funded differently then in some parts of the South. In the South technology was a priority where as technology has been placed as one first item to get cut off of budgets in the Northeast. If school districts invested properly in technology training and a resource person who isn't spread across 3 buildings then technolgy in the classroom wouldn't be such a big deal for teachers.

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