Although laptops are a major investment for schools, evidence suggests the outlay is worthwhile. In particular, one-to-one computing programs are thought by many to be beneficial. With such schemes, every student has his or her own computer. This technology already exists in many classrooms across Britain or the US, for example, but students often have to share laptops rather than take charge of their own. Even though the expense of a one-to-one program is prohibitive, it is partially offset by the lesser need for physical learning materials. And what price is too high for greater student achievement?
The Benefits of One-to-One Computing
Computer technology is everywhere in today’s world, so it’s not hard to see why it should feature in schools. But the benefits are more far-reaching than you might expect. Let’s look at some of them:
- Students are more likely to collaborate and learn from each other because they feel less inhibited about communicating
- Greater access to information online with a broad range of resources
- Improvement of computer skills for all students
- Better communication online with teachers and less fear of asking questions or relaying problems
- Enhanced organisation with the ability to follow assignment progress and access the school calendar
- Homework assignments can be received, submitted and graded via email rather than printed out on paper and potentially lost (dogs can no longer eat homework)
- Teachers can give more detail when reviewing or marking assignments, since editing typed work is easier and allows limitless space
- Information and support about the curriculum is more accessible to provide online
- Learning is more enjoyable for technology-savvy students
- Most young 21st century students identify more with tablets or laptops than they do books
Many pupils will be accustomed to using a computer at home, whether it’s a gleaming new gaming PC, a second hand MacBook Pro or iPad, or maybe just a phone. A smartphone is essentially a computer, after all. Even if this isn’t the case, a balanced computing system at schools ensures even the poorest students have access to modern technology.
Another benefit of a one-to-one computing program in schools is that it enables other modern teaching strategies. Broadly speaking, “blended learning” is where students complete part of their course online and part of it in person—in the classroom. This idea takes many forms. For instance, students may complete the more academic part of the work online and complement it with fun multimedia activities in the classroom.
An interesting variation of blended learning is the “flipped classroom”, where the teacher aims to supplement the student’s online studies. Theoretically, this enables students to receive more individual attention and, to some extent, learn at their own pace. Blended learning takes many different forms, but one-to-one computing is at its heart. Surely all schools will work this way in the future?