Have you noticed that laptop computers are beginning to dictate what happens in the classroom? Additionally, mobile technology is changing where learning takes place. This is especially true as laptops are entering the educational arena in ever increasing numbers.
Yet not all educators are quick to jump on the notebook bandwagon. They are waiting to see if laptop use is truly changing learning for the better. That's why schools such as Framingham State College in Boston and the Myron B. Thompson Academy in Honolulu are being scrutinized. Both schools have elected to use laptop computers as a major resource in their curriculum.
It must be noted that simply having laptop computer access does not change the learning process – the entire curriculum must change and merge technology with academics. Using a laptop is more than replacing paper and pencil with electronics. The entire relationship between the teacher and students must change. Teachers are no longer merely dispensers of knowledge but become facilitators in a learning process that takes place with additional tools for communication with students. This encourages greater student involvement, long recognized as a key to learning.
Professors actively engaged in education via technology see laptops as a way to give real life experiences to otherwise insipid theories. For instance, physics students can witness the breakdown of radioactive materials, math students can apply their knowledge of logic to projects that use spreadsheets, and English majors can evaluate peers' poetry and prose. With laptop availability in the classroom, access to additional information and knowledge is readily available.
So what do students think of the laptop trend? Well most find it invigorating. Rather than dealing with one dimensional lectures, teachers can engage the internet to show relevancy to daily life. Out of date, static texts can be set aside for breaking news stories – and so much more.
As schools show the link between laptops and learning effectiveness, the trend for laptop use will certainly grow. For those opposed to the technological revolution taking place in today's classrooms, perhaps the words of Maria Montessori should be heeded.
"… If education is always to be conceived along the same antiquated lines of a mere transmission of knowledge, there is little to be hoped from it in the bettering of man's future …"