Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

1:1 Computing Guidebook

Technology and Learning has published a freely downloadable 1:1 Computing Guidebook. The book’s subtitle is, “A Guidebook to Help You Make the Right Decisions.” It was underwritten by HP, Microsoft, and Intel. To download, use the above link and register with the site, then a download link to a PDF version will be provided.

The chapters include the following topics:

1. Technology Decisions and 1:1 Computing
2. Program Planning and Evaluation
3. The Education Landscape
4. Leadership in Action
5. Instructional Support
6. Technology and Curriculum Integration
7. Professional Development
8. Financial Issues and Funding Sources
9. Technology Infrastructure
10. Technical Support

A grand total of TWO PARAGRAPHS are included in this entire 44 page document on “research results.” In section 2, “Program Planning and Evaluation” on page 9, the following is written:

Michigan’s 1:1 teaching and learning initiative, 1:1 computing program, is engaged in implementing these evaluation measures and has partnered with the Center for Research in Educational Policy/Education Innovations (CREP/EI) at The University of Memphis for evaluation. Preliminary results indicate a measure of success in reaching each of the goals identified here. See the sidebar for details.

Results in Walled Lake, Michigan were positive as well. Wayne State University and the University of Memphis conducted a three-year study on the effectiveness of learning activities, technology usage, writing achievement, and problem-solving ability. Benchmark assessment and MEAP scores were analyzed. The Year 3 evaluation of the laptop program was structured around six primary research questions that focused on classroom practices, student achievement, and student behaviors and attitudes. Results of this study suggest positive impacts of students using laptop computers as learning tools. However, students who had continuous access to the laptop computers in 1:1 programs had significant advantages over students who only had classroom access to laptops from a mobile laptop cart.H O

Amazingly, the Maine laptop project (the Maine Technology Learning Initiative) is not even mentioned once in this entire report! Given the fact that Maine’s project was the first statewide laptop initiative, has been the largest statewide laptop initiative in the U.S. to date, and is acknowledged in the academic circles with which I am familiar as a very important project studying the impact of 1:1 immersion on a variety of student outcomes, this represents a ridiculously unprofessional omission. The “research results” cited above also give the erroneous impression that Michigan’s laptop initiative has been successful. The March 2004 article “A Tale Of Two Laptops” in District Administration paints a very different picture. I know the Maine laptop project is up for renewal this coming spring, I am honestly not sure what the status of the Michigan project is now. I’ll likely be learning that in the weeks to come.

The fact that this document includes only two short paragraphs on “research results” is not reflective of the amount of research that has been done to date on 1 to 1 immersion projects. The database of 1:1 research studies that I have collaborated with others to create includes 28 different studies to date. One of the most significant omissions in addition to the MTLI is the SRI International Report, “Research: What IT Says About 1 to 1 Learning.” (PDF) This June 2005 SRI Int’l report, underwritten by Apple Computer, cites the report “One-to-One Computing in Michigan. A State Profile” (PDF). This latter report published in April 2004 includes the following paragraph at the end:

Due to a severe downturn in Michigan’s economy, however, the program has been scaled back significantly. In fact, all state funds were rescinded and, due to the limited response to the program by school districts, the state now expects to fund between 12,000 to 17,000 6th graders statewide (approximately 10% of all 6th graders in the state), a number far smaller than the 132,000 (some say 160,000) originally envisioned. Despite a statewide public school enrollment that is about eight times the size of Maine’s, Michigan’s full one-to-one program currently reaches approximately 3,000 fewer students.

I have only scanned Technology and Learning’s 1:1 Computing Guidebook at this point, I admit I have not yet read the entire thing in detail. But the fact that the word “Maine” does not show up in the entire document when you search the PDF file is quite telling.

If people want to provide objective recommendations to others about something as important as a 1:1 technology initiative, they should not omit significant projects and academic research efforts which shed light on what has and has not worked in these projects. Unfortunately, based on this cursory scan of the document and the included as well as excluded research findings, it appears this document was written in no small part to tell a story more slanted to the commercial interests of the underwriters than the objective interests of academic research or educational decisionmaking. 🙁

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