Archives for the month of: April, 2014

In-class laptop use and its effects on student learning by Carrie B. Fried


Recently, a debate has begun over whether in-class laptops aid or hinder learning. While some research demonstrates that laptops can be an important learning tool, anecdotal evidence suggests more and more faculty are banning laptops from their classrooms because of perceptions that they distract students and detract from learning. The current research examines the nature of in-class laptop use in a large lecture course and how that use is related to student learning. Students completed weekly surveys of attendance, laptop use, and aspects of the classroom environment. Results showed that students who used laptops in class spent considerable time multitasking and that the laptop use posed a significant distraction to both users and fellow students. Most importantly, the level of laptop use was negatively related to several measures of student learning, including self-reported understanding of course material and overall course performance. The practical implications of these Wndings are discussed.

Computers and Education (2007)

Since our district looks likely to adopt “one-to-one” computing in the not too distant future (see: Creating the Vision for Technology), I’ve taken a look at some white papers and reports discussing its effectiveness.

Interestingly, several of them openly report that issuing laptops to all students helps change traditional teachers into constructivists — I say “openly” because the word constructivism is actually used. Normally constructivist practices are promoted sans the label, which isn’t a draw for parents. But not in this case.

Of course, few parents are going to see white papers extolling the transformative wonders of laptops in the classroom, so that may account for the frank celebration of guide-on-the-sidery.

From a report on Microsoft’s Anytime Anywhere Learning Program :

Laptop teachers show significant movement toward constructivist teaching practices. When we asked teachers to reflect on their practices three years ago and currently, only the Laptop teachers showed statistically significant change toward more constructivist teaching practices. These changes included more frequent uses of student-led inquiry and collaborative work, and also included departures from traditional classroom roles and changes in activity structures. Data from Non-Laptop teachers did not show any significant changes in their practice from three years ago. In a measure of more traditional teaching, Non-Laptop teachers report they employ direct instruction (a traditional practice defined on our questionnaire as the sequence “review, teach, guided practice, individual practice”) almost every day, and that this has not changed at all over the last three years. In contrast, Laptop teachers have moved from employing direct instruction almost every day to about once a week in the current year. However, differences in current practices for Laptop and Non-Laptop teachers on most measures were not statistically significant, though directionally Laptop teachers were slightly more constructivist. The laptop program itself, then, may be acting as a catalyst for change.


For both groups, the large majority of teachers who indicated a change toward more constructivist pedagogy also indicated that computers played a role in that change. When we asked teachers to reflect on changing practice, we also asked them to indicate whether computers had played a role in particular changes, such as using more authentic assessment, allowing themselves to be taught by students, encouraging students to choose their own research areas or explore topics independently, or moving away from direct instruction. In each case, more than four out of five teachers who made a change in such practices indicated that computers played a role in this change; in some cases, one hundred percent indicated a computer role. Computers themselves, then, may be acting as a catalyst for change for both Laptop and Non-Laptop teachers.

Teachers sing about becoming guides on the side

Digital Schools: How Technology Can Transform Education:

Imagine an educational system in which pupils master vital skills and critical thinking in a collaborative manner, social media and digital libraries connect learners to a wide range of informational resources, student and teacher assessment is embedded in the curriculum, and parents and policymakers have comparative data on school performance. Teachers take on the role of coaches, students learn at their own pace through real-life projects, software programs track student progress, and schools are judged by the outcomes they produce.4 Rather than being limited to six hours a day for half the year, this kind of education moves toward 24/7 engagement and full-time learning.5
Darrell West | Brookings | 2012
Chapter 1: New Models in Education

So I guess in the brave new world, spring break is going to be a thing of the past.

Makes sense.

Once technology has transformed education, kids won’t care about spring break. They’ll be having too much fun mastering vital skills and critical thinking at their own pace in a collaborative manner through real-life projects to care about going on vacation.

And see:
Consulting the Google machine
Our goal
Response to superintendent technology memo

Irvington Insight – Flipped Classrooms: A Model That Turns Learning on Its Head | 1.2014

I’m still waiting for an “Irvington Insight” devoted to the new classics-heavy assigned reading list parents have spent the past 20 years lobbying for.

Curriculum director: I am a child-centered professional
Response to administrator technology memo
IEF off-cycle grant: “Exploring and expanding our use of technology in
the classrooms”

Wrong track
“Our goal”
The digital natives are restless
Flipped classrooms (and more) in IUFSD
Email from an NYU student on his experience in a flipped classroom
John D on flipped classrooms and board policy
Buying technology – business v. schools

One of our local high schools started the flipped classroom strategy and both students and parents pretty much rebelled. I was asked to tutor former students taking Algebra 2 who had been outstanding “real” Algebra 1 students. I actually encourage my students to hang out on Khan’s site but only because many of his lessons are interesting and can serve as an excellent supplement. An important part of teaching and learning math is the interaction among students with their peers and teacher WHILE learning is occurring, not a day after the fact. And that even assumes that quality learning occurred while watching videos with no opportunity for questions. The guide on the side folks have been trying to separate me from my students for the past forty years. They accuse you of being the sage on the stage because you dare attempt to teach. If flipped classrooms are being pushed by educrats and colleges of education, beware.

Vern Williams is something of a legend in ‘instructivist’ circles. He teaches algebra to gifted 8th grade students, served on President Bush’s National Mathematics Advisory Board, and was I believe the sole classroom teacher involved in writing the Common Core math standards. (Common Core State Standards Initiative K-12 Standards Development Teams)

Three of his articles in the Times:

All posts on flipped classrooms