Weston and Bain (2010)

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Weston, M. and Bain, A. (2010) The End of Techno-Critique: The Naked Truth about 1:1 Laptop Initiatives and Educational Change. Journal of Technology, Learning, and Assessment 9(6). https://ejournals.bc.edu/ojs/index.php/jtla/article/view/1611 (accessed 22-08-2012)

The authors raise questions about what schools need to do to realise the advantages of 1:1 computing.

They recognise criticisms from Larry Cuban and others that the results from 1:1 efforts do not match the expectations of their advocates. They also note that most efforts to improve education fail to affect teaching, learning, and achievement across schools, districts, and states. In this context, laptop computer initiatives are just the latest attempt to produce such effects. Efforts at improvement, as promising as they may appear, too often are co-opted, diluted, or diminished to generate any widespread effect on teaching or learning.

However, 1:1 laptop computer initiatives – with their policy mandates, hefty budgets, and far-reaching deployments – may have gone further than most other efforts.

Technology change within education has tended to produce replacements. Books replaced by web pages, paper report cards with student information systems, chalkboards with interactive whiteboards, and filing cabinets with electronic databases. None of these equivalents addresses the core activity of teaching and learning.

Each merely automates the practices of the prevailing paradigm:

1. non-differentiated large-group instruction

2. access to information in classrooms

3. non-engagement of parents

4. summative assessment of performance

Advocates of 1:1 computing who engage in such replacement exercises believe that educationally beneficial uses of computers will emerge spontaneously from the deployments of laptop computers in ratios of one computer per user.


Realizing the Benefits

The authors propose 6 "cognitive tools" to enable schools to differ from those that are now struggling with 1:1 computing?

1. An explicit set of simple rules that defines what the community believes about teaching and learning.

2. Rules are used to embed big ideas, values, aspirations, and commitments in the day-to-day actions and processes of the school (e.g., physical space, classroom organization, equipment, job descriptions, career paths, salary scales, curriculum documents, classroom practice, performance evaluation, technology, professional development).

3. All members at all levels of the school community are fully engaged with creating, adapting, and sustaining the embedded design of the school. For instance, students have clearly articulated roles, responsibilities, and performance measures instead of expectations for just being good citizens.

4. Feedback from teachers, school leaders, students, and parents occurs real-time all of the time. It reinforces what works and dampens what does not.

5. The interplay of rules, design, collaboration, and feedback make it possible for the school community to develop an explicit schema that defines interactions for the community members in their pursuit of learning.

6. Community members demand systemic and ubiquitous use of technology, as opposed to idiosyncratic and sporadic use of technology described in the research on many 1:1 computing programs.

In sum, the cognitive tools help members to teach, learn, create, communicate, and deliver feedback.