Great article in today’s Boston Globe about laptop learning prospects in Massachusetts under the leadership of high school principal Patrick Larkin.
http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2010/08/29/burlington_high_principa…

Patrick’s school is not 1:1 yet, but is moving in that direction under his leadership. According to the article only ONE school in Massachusetts is 1:1 now. Burlington may opt for a BYOL (bring your own laptop) model. Under his leadership teachers are already embracing many innovative technology uses in the classroom.

Follow Patrick on Twitter and read his blog:

http://twitter.com/bhsprincipal

http://www.burlingtonhigh.blogspot.com/

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  • I’m in Mass, too, and we’ve talked about BYOL and I have argued against it for equity reasons. The well-off kids come equipped and our poorer kids get left out of the mix. Until we find a way to make sure that equity can be ensured across the board, I would not want a school to put more edge into the digital divide.
    Or am I wrong about that?
    Kevin

  • I totally agree equity and digital divide issues are critical, and we should NOT implement programs which widen gaps.

    I think, however, we need to consider the laptop as the 21st century pencil. We expect students to bring pencils to school. If a child does not bring one, however, we don’t say things: “Oh my goodness. Not everyone has a pencil. We can’t use ANY pencils today, because Johnny forgot his.” (Or doesn’t have the budget for one, broke his, etc.) Schools need to have laptops on hand to provide them as loaners for students who don’t have them. Maybe some kids will need a laptop loaner every day. That shouldn’t stop the school from using laptops across grade levels and content areas for learning, however, or expecting that MOST students will bring laptops to school.

    The need to “commodify” the laptop is key here. This is something Apple is apparently not interested in doing at this point, but as educators interested in issues of equity and empowering ALL learners, we should. Powerful laptops which enable a variety of content CREATION options as well as consumptive options should be affordable and in the hands of EVERY learner. This is the vision of OLPC, and this should be our vision too.

    I’m just aware of a few schools currently doing BYOL. I think we should find ways to amplify their work and lessons learned. We continue to hear school leaders say things like, “We can’t afford it” when 1:1 programs are discussed.” That mantra needs to change to, “We can’t afford NOT To implement a 1:1 program,” particularly when you look at the cost of curriculum materials and the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement.

    What do you think, Kevin – is it reasonable for a school to adopt a BYOL approach to 1:1, but also provide laptops for students and families who (for a variety of reasons) either can’t or won’t provide their own laptop?

  • I’m with you on this: “Schools need to have laptops on hand to provide them as loaners for students who don’t have them.” But I don’t think enough schools do it, nor commit to the resources to do it. And I think there are teachers who are resistant, too, to having students on their own computers, where the kids know more of the ins and outs than the teachers. The fear factor continues to be a wedge issue.
    I think 1:1 and even BYOL is an important issue, and highlighting that work being done at schools would be a great bonus. We all need leaders to look towards.
    Kevin

  • Under his leadership teachers are already embracing many innovative technology uses in the classroom.

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