What we currently have?
Currently our school does not have a designated computer lab. Our lab is used almost hourly to teach CT. Most kids have some sort of mobile device in their pockets or back packs. 99% have access to the Internet at home. Most kids have their own laptop or a laptop shared amongst their siblings and can bring them to school for special projects. Our diploma students are required to have laptop, but they bring them inconsistently.
What makes implementation so hard?
There are a very loud few on my staff who wish digital tools, laptops, etc would be banned outright. They think they are a distraction. They think that because most students will write essay exams in the diploma by hand, students should never need to type a paper in their class. There is also the fear that students do too much copying and pasting, and it is getting more and more difficult to make sure students are doing their own work. And when the kids have a free moment they are always watching those damn videos on YouTube!
Then there are the excited few who are thrilled whenever they get to use a digital tool. For some, being digital in the classroom seems like a natural thing.They know it has its downfalls and distractions, but they also know that this is the reality our students are growing up in. The teacher’s job is to teach them to continue to be human as their world is getting more and more digital.
Then there is the middle. They just want time. Time to breath, time to reflect, time to be trained. They aren’t opposed to laptops and iPads, they just feel like it is one more thing they are being asked to do. And won’t it take time to convert all my lessons? And who is in charge of my stuff in the cloud? Where does it go? Will someone take it? Is it still mine? What if kids are downloading bad stuff during my lesson? What if …. The lack of time for regular planning, the feeling of being inundated with work, makes them overwhelmed at the idea that one day they are going to have to change EVERYTHING they do because of the need to teach to the 21st Century. It is always hard to see, in that moment of overwhelming stress, that this tool actually just might relieve some of that stress.
Here lies the problem. Some of the school is already looking at the idea of 1 to 1 computing…laptops or iPads? And the other part of the school is screaming NOOOOO Make it STOOOOOP!
So if we were to choose…Laptops or iPads?
Because my students bring their various tools to class I have observed what seems to work and what doesn’t in my classroom. In my recent SOLE lessons phones and iPads were much more effective in increasing the interaction and discussion within the group. Students would look down at the
screen together. A student could reach over and scroll or flick to the next page. Another student would read off of it and another would write. They took turns searching, talking, scanning, etc.
The students with laptops hid behind the screen and didn’t communicate with the rest of their group. A student would look at the screen and the others would talk and wait for the screen person to share what they found. Sometimes the students in the group would take turns looking things up. One group had 3 laptops. They found NO information in 40 minutes and the kid with the poster, just started making stuff up.
My 10th graders are the worst with their laptops. When I enter the room their screens are always up. I say “Close your screens” every time I walk into the room. You’d think that when they saw me come through the door they should just close their laptops. I guess Pavlov’s theory isn’t really working with them; maybe I need a bell. These kids are so addicted to their laptops that at every possible moment they are open in front of them; YouTube, Facebook, Tumblr constantly streaming. Last week I said “Get out a sheet of paper and take notes” and they looked at me like “Paper? Was ist das?”
When I asked my 11th graders what they liked to use more in class they all said iPad. They liked being able to take notes with it. They like it for presentations. And they liked that the iPad is on the desk, rather than the laptop that is blocking them from interacting with the teacher or others. When I asked my 8’s, there was a mixture of responses. Kids wanted their laptops for word processing and making presentations. But they also liked the iPad for finding information or playing games.
I think its all in what we are used to. If the school chooses laptops, then the teacher will have to adapt their teaching so that the screen doesn’t get in the way. And if the school chooses iPads, the teacher will have to show students that the iPad is just as effective for creating presentations and word processing. Our students will like what is useful to them. So the teacher’s job is to make whichever we choose useful. But I still like the iPad best.