As technology has rapidly evolved in recent years, some districts have begun to provide their students with laptops to facilitate the learning process. This program is called a 1–to-1 laptop program, and it grants each student a laptop to be used in the classroom and for homework for the entire school year.
Based on my experience over the past few years at Hanover High, computers are crucial tools to many teachers’ class plans. Whether needed for a project, webquest, research assignment, or study period, computers are often in demand. The school currently uses Chromebook carts or the computer labs when typing or using the Internet is required. Though I find this system is useful and effective, I do think that if each student had their own laptop there would be less energy spent on tracking down and organizing the Chromebook carts and relocating to the computer labs. This might be one helpful benefit of developing such a laptop program here in Hanover.
Using this program might also help teachers assign work to students. Currently, teachers cannot completely assume that each student has access to a home computer, and they therefore might be hesitant to give out assignments predominantly online through a program like Google Classroom. If each student had their own school-distributed laptop, however, the teacher could feel confident that the student would have the resources at home to complete their work without having to go to extra efforts like using a computer at the town library.
If I were in charge of deciding whether or not this school should take up the program, I would probably be ambivalent about just how much more smooth the laptops would make learning. Though they would surely provide quick access to an infinite amount of learning materials right in the classroom, a weak Wi-Fi connection can make the learning process take double or triple the amount of time it normally would. I have experienced poor network connections in school with the Chromebooks, making my projects take longer than they would using a physical textbook, so I would be worried about technological mishaps like this if the school were to develop the program.
One high school teacher in La Junta, Colorado, tried out this laptop program and had interesting things to say about it to the George Lucas Educational Foundation (Edutopia). The teacher, Chris Ludwig, said that the program was helpful to teacher-student communication because it allowed for his students to get in touch with and submit work to him whenever they needed. Ludwig also stated that the laptops allowed the students to participate in the collective classroom learning experience by introducing information or resources they found online to others in the class. Moreover, he found that students getting distracted with other websites and programs on the computer while they were supposed to be working was not a major issue: Ludwig could use Apple Remote Desktop to regulate what the students were doing, and he could lock each student computer when he needed to.
Though using a 1-to-1 laptop program would be a big shift from the paper-based learning style that largely still exists at Hanover High School, I think that it could solve many problems at the school involving efficiency of attaining online resources and ease of assigning Internet work. Technology can be less reliable at times due to issues like poor wireless connections or computer malfunctions, but the world at large is increasingly relying on materials online for information. It might, in fact, prepare students well for future jobs or daily life if schools adopted a computer-based curriculum.