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Luna-cy #2: laptops help High School students learn

Laptops: tools or teachers?
Laptops: tools or teachers?
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

My daughter is in her third year at an Ivy League college. In lecture classes every day, students bring laptops to take notes. Typing faster than the professor can talk allows this generation of students to take extensive, complete notes: my daughter outlines complete classroom lectures – notes which she can then study in preparation for papers and exams.

While she accepts that her laptop is essential in this context, she also notices that she and her classmates simultaneously use their laptops to be on FaceBook, to hold conversations in chat windows, to shop online, and to read Hollywood gossip sites such as Perez Hilton – all during class. College students, who do not even have to show up for class, are one case – as they are paying for their education, they can treat that education as casually as they please. High school students, however, are another matter.

Superintendent Luna says that the same limits that apply to current classroom computers will keep students from the most blatant abuses of their personal technology – student laptops will be subject to firewalls that block inappropriate content. However, just as students now text on their silent, hidden phones during class, chat windows, games and web-surfing will not be possible to control – especially in a classroom with more students and fewer teachers.

When I asked my high school students yesterday what they thought of the idea of a laptop for every student – they simply rolled their eyes at the uncontrollable nature of such a gift. Even they – students themselves – agree that technology is a tool, not a solution. Making laptops available to students in the library, in study halls, to check out for homework, is absolutely appropriate, and even necessary, so students can learn how to use the everyday devices that they will use on the job. Claiming that laptops will themselves transform the challenge of a high school education is ludicrous – technology is a tool, to be used in the same way that a book or a typewriter or a calculator incrementally improved the pace at which students could perform throughout those eras.

What 21st century schools need are clear thinkers who use technology…not invasive technology which enslaves thinkers.

· Luna-cy #1: advanced technology increases learning

· Luna-cy #3: online credits improve education

· Luna-cy #4: dual credits promote challenge

Superintendent Luna’s plan for Idaho schools = economics, NOT education


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