As the pedagogy of one-to-one laptop computers continues to grow at a geometric rate across the nation, two types of schools are emerging. The first type of school chooses to become a one-to-one laptop school for reasons which may include technology is the future of our world and our kids need to learn it, the school may be able to grow its enrollment with laptops for everyone, or other schools are going one-to-one so our school must also to keep pace.
The second type of school chooses laptops for their students because their teaching has advanced in the use of inquiry-based instruction, their classrooms are active learning centers, and they have shifted the center of gravity in their classrooms from the teacher at the front of the room to the students in the middle of the room. Laptops are the next natural progression as these schools develop their curriculum. These latter schools have reached a point where they need to put powerful research tools into the hands of their kids in order to advance their instruction to the next higher level.
Technology is a siren song. We are attracted to the sounds, the action, and the information. We marvel at applications we never would have dreamed of a decade earlier. But technology only for the sake of technology is empty. It leads to accusations from the public that the students are distracted, they are wasting their time on games and chats, they are not learning the basics, or worse--the laptops rest in their bookbags while core instruction continues unchanged from years before.
Maybe you have heard the stories: the students rush into the classroom, pop open their laptops, and log on. Then the teacher enters and says, "Put those things away; we have work to do." It's happened.
One-to-one laptop initiatives should not be decided top down. It is imperative the teachers are part of the decision. The teachers must be on board from planning through implementation. There should also be an understanding of how instruction must change once the initiative is underway.
So lash yourselves to the mast. Resist the siren song of technology for technology's sake. And when ready, lay a clear course for a destination as a 21st Century school.