The article “Bombshell may unravel Cobb laptops” from the July 21st Atlanta, Georgia news makes me sad. There is obviously a lot of politics to this situation that cannot be summarized in a single article. Whatever the case, it appears that community support for the initiative was either not built– or that voice of support is not being heard by news sources like this Georgia paper.

This summer I had the opportunity to meet Dr Tim Tyson, the principal of Mabry Middle School in Cobb County. He told me about the runaway success of their school’s student digital film festival, which had its fourth year last year.

To see the impact of digital filmaking and authentic technology immersion on those students is an amazing thing, according to Dr. Tyson. In fact, he said “to know what we know and not act is immoral,” in reference to the positive impact technology immersion (including 1:1 laptop initiatives) can have on student learning. With Henrico County, Virginia abandoning the Macintosh platform in lieu of Dell computers that cost $51 less per machine, and this apparent fiasco with Cobb County schools, it appears that Apple Computer’s efforts to promote immersed learning in 1:1 settings across the country are facing some high profile setbacks.

As I learned at a site visit to the University of Texas’ College of Education back in April, there is so much more to a successful laptop initiatve than how cheaply a company can deliver computer CPUs to your loading dock. I suspect that administrators at Henrico will be learning that rather soon. It’s too bad that visionary educators like Dr. Tyson and his teacher cadre may not be equipped with iBooks anytime soon.

The real losers here are the students who will not have those educational opportunities. The author of the “Bombshell may unravel Cobb laptops” article suggests someone writing a doctoral dissertation on the way the approval and support for the laptop initiative in Cobb Country was mishandled and bungled. That may be a worthy dissertation topic, but perhaps even more important would be a study of the educational and economic opportunities Cobb County students may be denied if their proposed laptop program does derail completely.

The world IS flat, after all. Have Cobb County administrators, school board members, and regional journalists not read that book yet? Perhaps they should.

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