Monday, December 20, 2010

1 to 1 Laptops Close the Cell Phone Gap

Does not every school have an achievement gap somewhere among its demographics? I know we do. One of those gaps is between the middle class students and those socio-economically disadvantaged--of low socio-economic status (SES).

But there are different gaps between students that are generated by their family's earning potential. There may be a gap in student achievement, sure. There is also a gap in how students dress. And there's a distinct gap between students as shown by their competence and confidence using the latest technology. Nowhere is that gap more evident than students with their cellular telephones.

Although maybe not entirely determined by SES, on top there are the students with the smart phones. They have access to all the data plus really cool apps all day, all the time. Next come the multi-media phones, followed by the standard cell phones and track (pay-as-you-go) phones. Finally comes the huge gap between the haves and the have-nots with no cell phones at all.

When we became a one-to-one laptop school 4-12 this year, our initiative narrowed the technology gap and also the cell phone gap. Suddenly cell phones just are not quite as cool when every student has a much more powerful laptop always beside him/her. Students report far less use of cell phones at school, whether being used openly in the hallways or secretly in class.

Working to close the technology gap between the whole student body and the low SES students has been one of the more rewarding high points of my career.

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