This week we embark on a one-to-one laptop initiative at our school. The laptops are in and formatted. Laptop cases are unboxed and tagged. Students have completed the Digital Citizenship course and passed the quiz. Parents are awaiting the mandatory meeting on Thursday at which they will learn what benefits and responsibilities this initiative will present for them and their daughters. Staff is preparing for a more digital focus in our classes.
We all want this to go well: the district technology department, our administrators, the staff, the students, and their parents. As we look forward to the coming week, I am struck by the eagerness (and maybe some trepidation) with which we anticipate this. There are a couple of hints already that there are significant challenges to achieving the goals of this initiative, but I’m trying to enjoy the last moments of expectation as I type this.
We still haven’t ironed out the issue of monitoring (or not) the students’ use of their laptops, including the Internet sites they access and download from. Let’s be honest: students want to get to Facebook. While I personally don’t think that’s a problem outside the classroom where it can’t disrupt my class, it’s only one of many sites that intrigue them and may be the tamest. If we don’t figure out how to prevent some activities on the laptops outside our building, while allowing others, I foresee some sticky issues ahead. The agreement their parents sign will give them some responsibility in monitoring their children, but that’s not completely reassuring.
In a comparative test last week during my second hour class, it became clear that at least one primary objective has been reached: the new laptops are lightning fast, comparatively speaking. A student can go from “off” to online in less than half the time.
What’s important to keep in mind is that we, and our district, are learning a lot from these experiences, good and otherwise. That’s worth a lot. Our goal is to enhance learning among students of the digital generation, so I firmly believe that if we keep our eyes on that goal, we’ll ultimately be much wiser in the end.
Let the experiment begin!