Monday, March 19, 2007

Berkshire Wirless Lap top Initiative: how's it going?

In this article a lap top initiative is reviewed at it's one year anniversary. Although after one year it isn't really possible to see achievement gains (that apparently will be assessed in the third year), there are some positive teacher and student reported effects.

From the article:

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Findings by evaluators who assessed the first stage of the Berkshire Wireless Learning Initiative:

* Teachers and students reported large increases in their use of technology in the classroom and across the curriculum.
* Teachers reported a substantial increase in their abilities to access technology resources.
* Teachers reported large increases in the ways and frequency with which they use technology.
* Teachers reported frequent participation and overall satisfaction with BWLI professional development offerings.
* Students reported an increase in their ability to use technology after five months of one-to-one computing.

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What do you think? I think that all of these are positive developments.... but, will the public go for findings like these after one year?

Jim :-)

3 comments:

Judith Comfort said...

The stated goals are:
1."improve student achievement and
2."transform the way education is delivered"

I'd say that they probably have been successful in the second goal, but what about number 1?

There is no evidence that the implementation of laptops enhances students learning opportunities when it comes to the more profound reasons for teaching mathematics to kids, for example, to become astute problem-solvers in daily life. "Achievement"usually means better marks.

I say that they should be honest and admit that they want to teach kids how to use computers properly; math is just the medium and content. The more profound concepts of mathematics can be learned with a imaginative and compassionate teacher and maybe some tools (pen and paper, calculator, perhaps a slate board and chalk).

They should also be honest about why they want kids to learn how to use computer technology - so Apple and Microsoft can sell a lot of computers.(a snotty comment for sure but i like to think that we educate children for citizenship as much as to create workers)

Jim said...

You make some good points, judith.

We have a laptop initiative program in our school district in Canada. It is the first year. It starts with Grade 7 students.

Our librarian noticed that when the students received the laptops, they immediately stopped checking out books to read. My concern is that, even though they read a lot on their laptop, it is a different kind of reading. It is not the same "deep" thinking necessary for novels where plot, character, etc. offer opportunities for reflection and higher, critical forms of thinking. At least, I wonder about it.

What do you think? What do others think? Are there librarians out there who have made similar observations? Am I being Luddiculous? :)

Jim

Anonymous said...

* Teachers and students reported large increases in their use of technology in the classroom and across the curriculum.

How is that positive? Replace "technology" with "little, purple and yellow, squishy balls" and everyone would ask: "What does that have to do with teaching?"

Well, which problem are you solving by using technology?

* Teachers reported a substantial increase in their abilities to access technology resources.

"I now have much better access to little purple and yellow squishy balls than I used to!"

* Teachers reported large increases in the ways and frequency with which they use technology.

"Wow! I am now using these little squishy balls much more often than I used to!"

* Teachers reported frequent participation and overall satisfaction with BWLI professional development offerings.

"And they even taught me how to use these little bouncy balls!"

* Students reported an increase in their ability to use technology after five months of one-to-one computing.

"I can now bounce my squishy ball twenty times before it crashes into the window. Five months ago, I used to break the windows every day, now it only happens once a week!"

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Facetious? Yes. Sorry. I'm just so frustrated by assessing the success of technology in the classroom by measuring... the use of technology in the classroom.

Which problems were solved by use of technology?

Which problems were caused by use of technology?

How many teachers were not hired because of the technology expense?

How many teachers will have to be cut in the next budget crisis because of higher operating costs due to technology?