Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Asus Eee Series Pc - Day II

So I showed the Asus off yesterday at a staff development meeting. Lots of wide eyes and a few good questions. It will be in the hands of a couple of kids over the next few weeks. I had this article passed on to me about Fresno Unified School District that has put them in several classrooms to work on student portfolios. Here are a couple of quotes:

"Anything we can do as a district to engage students in learning and keep them here is a good thing," Superintendent Michael Hanson said
Yes - engagement is a key piece here. Changing the way we teach is an even bigger one which is why I like this statement better

school officials said they purchased 1,000 wireless laptops that fit on a desk alongside textbooks and notebooks, as well as give students the opportunity to build a digital portfolio of essays, drawings and other creations
But what really scares me is that we continue to see statements like these:

Stephen Lewis, a geology professor at California State University, Fresno, thinks laptops are a useful tool, but they can also hinder the teaching process -- he often sees students with their heads buried in their laptops instead of paying attention to a lecture
Professor Lewis doesn't get it - if you engage the students they will be interested in your area of study - your lecture just ain't cutting it.

These two individuals on the other hand do:

Roy Bohlin, an education technology professor at Fresno State, however, said laptops can motivate students to solve problems that affect their friends or community or the world.

"Problems in textbooks are sometimes boring," Bohlin said. "Laptops can increase critical thinking because students will have access to resources on the Internet."

Kurt Madden, the district's chief technology officer, said he has heard the debate before. In his final analysis, he said: "Teachers will always be a critical part of the classroom."

What it comes down to is boring classrooms with laptops are boring classrooms with expensive furniture (stole that from Bob Johnstone). Exciting engaging classrooms can be more effective with a tool to access information - like a laptop (or a really good library - the Internet is just faster - when used correctly). When you start to do things with the laptop that could never be done before - like collaborative, multi-media, on-line, project based, thematic, problem solving activities you are getting somewhere.