Laptops Struggling In Schools, But PDAs Are Good For Education

from the all-depends-on-who-donated-what dept

Two contrasting stories in Wired today that fit together well. The first is about some of the difficulty junior high schools in Maine are having with their new laptops that have been given to every 7th grade student in the state. While it has been useful for some things, many teachers simply don’t have the training required to really make use of the laptops. Students also have mixed feelings about the laptops – with some thinking they’re just heavy to carry around with very little benefit. There is a great quote from one student who says that a textbook has more information than his computer. At the same time, though, a Palm-sponsored study (so beware of the very obvious bias) has found that PDAs are very useful tools in educational settings, and that students use them to increase their learning activities. The most interesting part is that with the PDAs, students feel that they simply extend their abilities to do things, rather than doing something in an entirely new way. That’s important for anyone trying to introduce new technologies into schools. Requiring lots of training and having to think about new ways to incorporate the technology isn’t likely to get people very far. However, providing simple technology that just lets people extend what they already do is much more likely to catch on in the short term.

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Comments on “Laptops Struggling In Schools, But PDAs Are Good For Education”

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Andy says:

Training did seem to be an issue

Back at the start of the school year we (here at the ISP I work for) had number of teacher’s coming by with their shiny new iBooks, trying to get online. One that I talked with hadn’t had any training. There had been training, but it had been announced via email and she only had email on her computer at the school.

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