Findings from the Irving Laptop Surveys for Teachers
Findings from the Spring 2006 Irving Laptop Surveys for Teachers
Since the publication of the first Tablets for Schools literature review,1 which argued that there was still a significant gap in the literature on the impact of one-to-one Tablets in education, the interest in this area has continued to grow among academic researchers. An increasing number of publications have debated the effects these devices have on teachers and pupils in educational contexts ranging from nurseries to universities. This report will update the findings from the previous publication and discuss the findings from recent studies, as well as the limitations of the research to date. It will also discuss what, if anything, distinguishes Tablets from other technologies that have previously been introduced in schools, such as computers, laptops and netbooks.
Today’s K-12 students tap into a wide range of mobile devices to enhance learning—both in and out of school. Principals, parents and teachers support this mobile learning trend by recognizing the benefits of increased access allowing students to learn anytime, anywhere. See how mobile devices enable new and customized learning that is untethered and digitally-rich.
Anthropologists have long studied the role that mythology plays in the cultural fabric of a community. According to these social scientists, various cultures use myths as a form of storytelling to provide an explanation for a changing or confusing world, to validate existing beliefs, to fill in gaps of knowledge or understanding, and to establish a sense of order amongst chaos. Myths often are also used to inspire awe and wonder amongst the community. While the excitement of the myth story is contagious, the awe and wonder is not intended to stimulate scientific questioning or inquiry, but rather to maintain a status quo of order or power. Such is the case for example with the traditional Navajo myth about the creation of the constellations. As the story is told, the Sun and Moon were made from cutting giant discs of quartz that were then hoisted into the sky to provide light to the Navajo people, both during the day and at night. Not wanting to be wasteful, the creation deity used the remnants of the quartz cutting process to create patterns of stars in the night sky that had an explicit function of explaining the community’s laws. While the myth provided the Navajo people with an awe-inspiring explanation for how the Sun, Moon, and stars were created, it also sought to establish a cultural order within the community, as the medicine men were the only ones recognized with the wisdom to interpret the constellation-based laws.
In a similar way, the education community has used anecdotal stories over the years to understand or make sense of the role of technology within the lives of today’s K-12 students. These stories have developed into a comprehensive mythology around student digital learning that closely mimics the role of myths within other cultures. The unprecedented pace of the infiltration of technology tools and resources within our daily lives has created a need, especially for adults, to create a new sense of order within education, and to fill in gaps of knowledge and understanding around the use of technology with overly simplified explanatory narratives.
Schools all over the country are developing technology plans to implement “ubiquitous computing” in some form. By “ubiquitous computing,” people usually mean a combination of two key ingredients: wireless networking which provides high-speed Internet access, and a 1-to-1 computer-to-student ratio, achieved in most cases by the acquisition of laptops. The educational press has reported on many experiments such as the Maine Laptop Initiative, and similar programs at the local and state level. The new XO, “$100” computer provides an added dimension of affordability and innovation, along with the attractive vision of universal access to computer power and the many gifts of the World-Wide Web.