Are laptops still the answer?

Are laptops still the answer? In a discussion with a colleague the other day, it occurred to me that, while laptops are still pretty cool, and powerful learning tools, our students may have very well moved past them! The discussion was about why students are not bringing their laptops with them to school. Among the reasons students gave were comments like, “They are too heavy,” students complained, and “very slow.” I realized that what I thought about laptops was based on my past experiences with far clunkier, slower machines. I LOVE my laptop (a MacBook – another topic for a different day!) and cannot imagine NOT needing or wanting to use it on a daily basis! Their student/child experience, however, was with much smaller, faster and convenient machines – aka the Smart phone. Educators have been questioning for years what will happen as the iPad generation starts school. Well, they’re here, and they have been for several years now – why are we presenting them with laptops and thinking we’re helping them move forward?
As this realization dawned, I found myself shaking my head. Ughhh – we are doing it again – always steps behind the rest of the professional world! Why, in education, must we be the last to find out what everyone else already has discovered and accepted? Is it money, school system cultural entrenchment, lack of vision, or maybe the Emperor’s New Clothes phenomenon. What I do know is that it makes me very sad that we clap and congratulate each other passing out technology that is moving toward obsolescence when our students have the very technology they need quite literally in their hip pockets. Shouldn’t we be working with them to become productive and responsible citizens in their world, rather than holding them back in ours?
Posted in Reflections From the Field

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