Commentary

Digital Media in the Clasroom

How useful are laptops in education?  A study released by the US Department of Education last month is claiming that they may not be as beneficial as once thought.  I've heard all the complaints about students not using the computers for educational purposes and instead surfing the web, instant messaging, and accessing inappropriate material.  But there is also a huge push for put laptops in the hand of every student in every school.  This may sound nice and exciting but there are many problems.

As an education major at BSU I am constantly exposed to the use of computers in the classroom along with the benefits and dos and donts of using technology.  I personally believe that computers are a great tool to use in the classroom to enhance student learning but they have to be used properly.  You can't just put a laptop in a student's hands and expect their achievement to skyrocket.  Many times, the teachers don't even know how to use the computer.
    
Computers are penetrating into every part of our lives.  In 1943, Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM, said, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers. Watson made this statement long before innovative digital technologies revolutionized the way that we communicate, interact, and live.  In 2007, we consider it a nuisance if a news website does not have an RSS feed!  As I look back at how much computers have changed the way I lived in just the last ten years I am amazed.  There is so much information available through digital technologies that today's students have access to more opportunities than we did while in school.
    
We haven't fully realized the power of computers in learning.  Just as with every new program there are going to be kinks and flaws to work out.  While the cost of implementing laptop programs into schools for a one to one initiative is still very high, it is the few schools that are the first to implement these initiatives that are going to find the problems and take steps to solve them.  I'm not entirely convinced that laptops are necessary at this point.  I think that a one to one desktop computer initiative might be a better alternative considering the significantly lower investment involved.  Computers are definitely a good thing in education but maybe it is still a little too early to be implementing one to one laptop initiatives at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.

Source:

Hu, Winnie (2007, May 4). Seeing no progress, some schools drop laptops. The New York Times, Retrieved May 5, 2007, from http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/04/education/04laptop.html?_r=1&oref=slogin.

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