Wednesday, May 13, 2009

thoughts on student laptop use

Last year I was able to briefly (for one unit of study) have a laptop for every student in my Science 14 class, and I had scribbled down some thoughts about a computer for every student in a non-academic class. I didn't do anything groundbreaking with them, the students basically used them for note taking, worksheets, and viewing the textbook's CD-based animations.

Using them every day is different from "computer lab" time.
Assignments are much neater and easier to mark.
There is a broad range of typing skills and technology comfort levels.
Motivation is increased, probably because it's something new and it shows that the teacher cares to do something different.
Perhaps a system could be used for "chat style" feedback during lectures.
Access to the Internet can be a distraction.
Power issues come up (extension cords and batteries).
They like mice rather than touchpads or eraserheads.
Desk space is an issue, textbooks ended up in their laps.
There are some digital textbooks available as PDFs or applications.
They sometimes get confused when you call them notebooks instead of laptops.
Many of them like to customize the colours, fonts, etc. of the OS and their documents.
Worksheets are all in their document folders ahead of time, this means less printing and I don't have to make sure I have each day's assignment ready to hand out.
I don't usually give them a copy of the PowerPoint notes, perhaps that's something to try.
Some students work on the worksheets while taking notes, and/or copy and paste from their notes into their worksheets.

Those were my thoughts, it will be interesting to see how this changes with things like 1:1 projects and allowing student laptops on the school wifi.

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