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School Swaps Books for Laptops

June 16, 2011

"Boys and laptops and books" by Pesky Library (cc-by-nc-sa)

Stories of the increasing use of laptops and digital tablets in schools are becoming more common. An article in the Iowa Independent reports on how Van Meter Community School has integrated learning technology across their curriculum and has provided every student in grades 6-12 with their own laptop. The move connects students to online resources, increases collaboration with peers in far away places, and could change the role of teachers “from lecturers to facilitators and resource guides”. School officials say that the use of laptops and hand-held devices make it easier to personalize each student’s education. “Kids learn through technology” comments one board member”, so “should we say ‘come to school and turn it off’?”.

Similar developments are taking place in New Zealand. In February, the New Zealand Herald reported that more schools expect students to have laptops. Wellington High School has made them compulsory for year 9 students, and seven schools in the Auckland suburb of Tamaki are encouraging parents to lease netbooks for students in years 5 to 13. However, Patrick Walsh, the Secondary Principals Association president, warns that the issue of cost must be addressed. “Schools and parents know that not having them will increasingly mean children falling on the wrong side of a digital and learning divide, but parents’ hearts must sink when they are battling to pay school fees, uniforms and stationery for the year ahead. Now laptops?”.

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