Discussing 1:1 with Students

The confluence of a number of events led me to this post. First, a discussion with my Teacher Academy blogging buddy Kelly Hines about 1:1 computing that she summed up in this post:

No More Math Books, Please

Second, the recent purchase of my own netbook computer, detailed in my Unleashing the Wind posts.

Third, a blog post on Free Technology for Teachers from this morning:

Win a Free Computer Lab which details Acer’s free trial of one of their Aspire One netbooks and a chance to win one of 3 class sets of Aspire Ones.

I decided to pose a question to my students in class today that we’ve beaten around previously about the iPod Touch here on our class blog. That question was: How would having a laptop with you in class all day, every day change your learning environment here at school?

I was amazed by the thoughtfulness the students put into their responses and thought I’d share a few here with you (paraphrased at best, butchered with my understanding at worst).

Of course there were the obligatory middle school comments:

  • That would be AWESOME!
  • We could save paper!
  • I’d have to learn to type better.
  • We could type our notes/assignments rather than write them.
  • We could donate/burn our textbooks!

But once we got past those responses in each class, I was impressed by the maturity and tact of some of my kids:

  • Students would have to be much more mature: they couldn’t just sit around and play on their MySpace or Facebook pages all day.
  • Teachers would really have to figure out how to block sites they didn’t want us going to…and besides, if kids were smart enough, they’d find a way around it. To which I responded: And you all ARE smart enough, so what do we do? I didn’t really get a response there.
  • Would students be able to take the laptops home? How do we know they would bring them back? What if they don’t have Internet at home? Who is responsible if it gets damaged?
  • Not saying any names, but some teachers would really have to figure out how to use the computer first before we could all have them in class.
  • In most classes, I don’t think anything would really change all that much. We’d do more assignments on the computer, but nothing really different from what we already do.

I’ve created a new post for this discussion on our class blog and am anxiously awaiting some continued discussion from my kids on this topic. I would love to be in a 1:1 environment with my classes. I know there would be a learning curve to overcome before all my lessons could reasonably incorporate the additional access.  I won’t even pretend that the first couple of months would be pretty, but I think, with some openness from my students, we could get there.

The Acer Aspire One contest is being called a “Seed Program.”  I can’t help but think I may have sown a few seeds of my own in the minds of my students about what could happen if they were able to have access to the world that a 1:1 environment would provide.

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