It was only 30 years ago when the COMPAQ SLT/286 debuted as the first battery-powered laptop to support an internal hard disk drive. It weighed a whopping 14 pounds and the world practically swooned. Laptops gave professionals the opportunity to work from anywhere and offered students the chance to become proficient users of the new technology. Once the Internet was added on a wide-scale basis, all bets were off. The possibilities seemed endless.
Of course, there was a bit of a problem. According to a New York Times article written in October of 1988, the price of the laptop in U.S. dollars was approximately $5,400 – too steep a price for the average consumer and certainly too expensive for schools.
How Things Have Changed
That was then and this is now. As Apple Solutions Experts we routinely place well-priced, powerful laptops in classrooms around Victoria. Gone are the days of exorbitant prices and slow Internet connections. Today’s students have the best of what Apple has to offer and many students have the test scores to show for it.
Benefits of Computer-Based Learning
Classrooms that provide a laptop to each student find that those computers help their pupils in some ways, including:
- Offers curriculum support and additional information. If a student does not quite understand the details of an assignment she can refer back to any notes left by the teacher.
- Fosters collaboration. Properly guided by a teacher, students can work with fellow students to get the most from a lesson.
- Promotes organisation. A laptop can help a student keep track of assignments, utilise their online school calendar, and set timers for self-imposed deadlines.
- Makes students tech-savvy. Not every child has a computer at home and working on one at school can give that child the opportunity to learn a new, valuable skill.
- Allows students to “go green.” Because students can submit assignments via email rather than printing them, paper is saved. (By the same token, teachers have everything they need to grade in one place.)
- Improves the grading process. A teacher can edit a student’s paper and return it digitally, providing more detailed feedback.
The bottom line of a study from Michigan State University in the United States found that students with laptops for use in the classroom had an enhanced learning experience in subjects including science, math, and English. This, of course, comes with a caveat…
All About Finding Balance
No technology will ever replace the experience of a great teacher. A report from the Organisation for Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that one reason Australian students with access to computers do better than average on assessment tests is that teachers are there to provide targeted practice. In other words, merely trusting a student to his or her own devices in front of a computer screen is not enough. An influential teacher is necessary to give specific direction, gauge progress, and re-direct student activities when needed. Simply adding technology to a classroom is not what makes having laptops useful. The best overall results are seen when traditional teaching is complemented by technology.
Say a lesson plan includes teaching students about Egyptian hieroglyphs. Once the educator has set the stage, students can benefit from seeing pictures of hieroglyphs online and attempting to create some of what they find on paper. What their teacher tells them is just as important as anything they find online. It’s the balance that makes technology work in the classroom.
Special Needs Students
There are millions of children across Australia who do not fully benefit from a traditional educational program due to disabilities that impair their ability to participate in class. Computer-based technologies can play an essential role in the lives and education of these students. Whether a child lives with speech, hearing, sight, or physical impairment, computer technology has the potential to act as an equalizer. As an Apple partner in Victoria, we can help you find the perfect software to help those students with special needs.
The goal of any school is to prepare their students for the real world in the best way possible. There is no denying that the 21st-century workplace demands computer skills. No matter what kind of job a student holds after graduation, there is likely going to be a need for technical skills. In addition to learning more about computer technology, students are trained to research, work cooperatively, and take responsibility for their assignments. There is also a benefit to learning in different ways. Going back to the lesson in Egyptian hieroglyphs, a student is required to use listening skills to hear the teacher, visual skills to look at samples online, and hands-on skills to draw their hieroglyphs. The long-term result of using technology in the classroom is that students pick up multiple skills they need along the way, giving them the confidence they need to go out in the world.
The Bottom Line
There will always be students who soak up new information quickly and those who struggle. One of the things we set out to do as Apple Solutions Experts is to help Victoria area children find their footing, no matter how difficult school may be for them. We also pride ourselves on assisting educators to set up a system that balances their teaching strengths with complementary computer-based lessons.