Reason #1: 1:1 laptops allow for autonomy and ownership of student learning.
Imagine for a second that you had to give up your laptop and go back to a shared desktop computer in a lab setting. What would you lose? What would frustrate you about that sacrificial shift?
A laptop will provide students with a sense of ownership—not just of the machine—but of their own learning. A few examples….
- Software: Particularly programs which allow them to collect, process, and share the elements of their learning. OneNote, for example, is a powerful note-taking and organizational tool that allows students to catalog and organize all their notes for class, supplementing typed notes with hand-written or hand-drawn elements (if they have a tablet), relevant web-clippings and visual media, audio recordings from class discussions or group work. Students can create a set of notes for each class, unit, and lesson, that includes the visual and interactive aspects that best help them learn and remember. For research, the program will allow for collecting all sorts of offline and online material and sources, often linking back to the original web source, and allowing for robust organizing and processing of material into coherent reports and projects. OneNote also lets students and teachers share pages or entire sections, enhancing the collaborative environment for learning. OneNote is amazing and can take note-taking and research way beyond the usual outline and note cards. (I’ve said more than once that I wish I had this during my grad program!)
- Storage: Students become completely responsible for storing and organizing their documents, photos and video, presentations, etc. It means they have it with them at all times, but it also means learning how to manage all their digital content themselves…including backup plans. Something all of us need to learn a little more about?
- Personalization: You know that feeling you get every time your laptop is “re-imaged”? You log on and things aren’t where you left them. That’s what our students do each time they log onto a lab machine. Individual laptops allow each student to create an environment that works smoothly for him or her. Their bookmarks, desktop shortcuts, and Start Menu buttons are always there. They can create templates for common tasks (lab reports, online posts for class, class notes, etc.) in a variety of programs. The “recently used files” feature is actually useful to them on their own machine. Contacts in Outlook, default font styles in Word, their Skype account information, their saved login passwords, useful plug-ins and add-ons in their browser…all of these just “work” when students are working. None of these are present on a common lab computer.
- Care: Successful 1:1 programs report that when students 'own' the device, they care for it so much better than the previous lab machines. Beyond just the physical treatment of their personal device, student learn the need for power management, virus protection updates, regular backups, and all the other necessary skills for functioning effectively in a digital world.
Next post: Reason #2…Provides convenience and ready access to resources.
[I would invite and welcome comments on this particular point. When commenting, please keep in mind that there are other reasons coming and other opportunities to express your thoughts on specific topics. Please try to avoid comments which are too general. Thanks!]