A current trend in education across the United States is the 1:1 Technology Initiative. The goal of these initiatives is to put a laptop into the hands of each and every student within a grade, or if funding allows, within a school. These plans are usually a few years in the making, involve technology and parent oversight committees in the decision-making process, and in reality, amount to a minor fraction of per pupil spending.
It is an important movement to take note of for many reasons. First, any potential educational asset or resource that can be harnessed in such a large scale is worthy of consideration. The uses of an individual laptop to all these students can be tremendous. College research, paper writing, online courses, inquiry-guided learning, and learning how to transform technology are all major benefits to having a laptop as a student.
Students can learn to become tech-savvy in a way that will properly prepare them for college and work. They can learn about social media use and its implications for work and personal business, which is often a lesson kids learn best in action. Students can develop habits of time management, personal organization and other life skills that best fit their requirements.
Other considerations, of course, go to the potential time sink of having too much ‘screen time’ as a child; concerns about internet safety and social media’s unfortunate reality of cyber-bullying, and concerns about data privacy because children will be using these computers and marketing firms may be able to track such usage.
On a logistical level, the 1:1 technology initiatives also have real implications. Each student needs to be responsible for their laptop; if problems arise, they will have to handle it and likely schools have consequences for any mistreatment of such equipment. However, on the upside, it saves a lot of classroom time to not have to assign a laptop each day, check their functioning, and perform troubleshooting while trying to teach.
As with any major learning initiative, there will be upsides and downsides. Technology is a part of our lives, and this initiative will exist in many forms across districts based on resources, largely. The concerns that parents bring to the table during the planning for these initiatives is also key; we are all users of technology and our experiences can help inform the best possible implementation of future technology policies in the schools.
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