Sunday, May 06, 2007

Computers in schools?

Some school districts are phasing out their one-on-one laptop programs, according to a NYT article. Says one school official:
“After seven years, there was literally no evidence it had any impact on student achievement — none,” said Mark Lawson, the school board president here in Liverpool, one of the first districts in New York State to experiment with putting technology directly into students’ hands.

But the problem isn't that kids aren't learning to use their laptops:
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.

The problem is that the schools haven't got the resources to integrate the laptops into school-based learning. They don't have the resources to keep the machines working, they don't have enough teachers who can use the computers effectively in their teaching, and most of all, the laptops haven't led to measurable improvements in the school's test scores.

So much waste, in so many ways.