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One-to-one computing going by the wayside?

May 4, 2007, 2:05 pm

The concept of giving every child in a school system a laptop — also known as “1-1 computing” — hit a snag when some districts found that laptops had no significant effect on student achievement:

The students at Liverpool High have used their school-issued laptops to exchange answers on tests, download pornography and hack into local businesses. When the school tightened its network security, a 10th grader not only found a way around it but also posted step-by-step instructions on the Web for others to follow (which they did).

Scores of the leased laptops break down each month, and every other morning, when the entire school has study hall, the network inevitably freezes because of the sheer number of students roaming the Internet instead of getting help from teachers.

Read the whole thing. Interesting quote from the article:

“Where laptops and Internet use make a difference are in innovation, creativity, autonomy and independent research,” [1-1 computing supporter Mark Warschauer] said. “If the goal is to get kids up to basic standard levels, then maybe laptops are not the tool. But if the goal is to create the George Lucas and Steve Jobs of the future, then laptops are extremely useful.”

Here we have the false choice presented by many ed tech folks: the choice between innovation and creativity on the one hand, and mastery of basic skills on the other. As I have written before, a person cannot do meaningful creative work in a subject until they have mastered the rudiments of the subject, or at least seriously embarked on the path toward mastery. I don’t think Steve Jobs and George Lucas became creative and innovative in spite of their mastery of basic reading, writing, thinking, and quantitative skills. The attractive notions “innovation, creativity, autonomy and independent research” are dependent upon the student’s ability to perform basic information processing skills. They are not the alternative to those skills. And no technology, in and of itself, is going to make proficiency in those skills magically appear.

[via Joanne Jacobs]

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