Monday, April 6, 2009

Laptops for Teachers

HP Pavilion zv6115EA.Image via Wikipedia

We are in the early stages of evaluating the overall value of laptops for our teachers. The most obvious issue is cost. When you can currently purchase approximately 2.5 desktops vs. 1 laptop - it would be a heavy upfront cost. After the initial questions - others begin to arise - and I would like your thoughts on these questions and the project as a whole.

  • Laptops vs. Netbooks? Do teachers need a laptop, or would a netbook meet their needs? If so, cost is no longer an issue. Do certain teachers (power users) need a laptop - are you providing better tools to some than others?
  • Are you really getting "free work"? I have heard this argument before and have yet to find a reason to disagree with it. If teachers are able to take their device home with them - are they more likely to plan, research and work from home - thus providing a better learning environment for their students?
  • What happens when a teacher is out for the day and the lesson plan requires use of interactive tools? Do you have "back up" devices on-site? Must the substitute teacher be creative?
  • Do you control the content and applications used when outside the school building? Obviously while on their campus - usage will be monitored, but when the user takes the device home and connects to their personal Internet service - should the district still control the device?
  • Does a "Laptop for Teacher" program need to come before a 1:1 initiative in a school district? If a district were to implement a 1:1 for students - what if your teachers are not "up to par" with technology? They will be forced to learn on the fly and the upfront instruction / integration could be lacking. If the Laptop for Teacher program were implemented first and teachers were given a couple of years to learn new ways to integrate the device - would a student laptop program be more successful?
Give me your thoughts - pros and cons.


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1 comment:

Cheyenne Koch said...

Sounds like a great idea to me! I already have an Acer netbook that I use at home, and I've brought it to school to use in my classroom. The netbook works great for putting grades into IC, checking email, and creating/reviewing lesson plans. But the drawbacks add up: limited USB ports, small screen leads to increased eye strain, and smaller keyboard limits the ease and extent of typing.

I think a 15" laptop would be an ideal size for teachers - not too heavy, yet large enough to incorporate all the necessary features. Definitely should have built-in webcam and DVD burner. The wireless network would have to be examined to make sure all classrooms have enough signal strength.

Teachers (and especially substitutes) would need extra training on how to use the laptops effectively both at home and at school. Definitely should use for a period of time before students are given 1:1 access.

My biggest concern would be the monitoring of student laptop use, especially while in class. I've learned the hard way how to manage classrooms with computers and I would be glad to help train teachers in preparation for this.

Substitutes are my worse fear. I absolutely cringe at the thought of leaving my lab full of computers in the care of a sub. I may be too uptight, but I know what students are capable of, especially when it's part of my curriculum.

The laptop would be great for the paperless classroom I'm creating!

So when can I order mine? Do you need a guinea pig? Pick me, pick me!