How to learn with Laptops
Laptops are not just replacing notebooks and pens, but they are creating a new educational philosophy. These devices are changing the way students learn, and with them, teachers are updating their pedagogic methods.
From the school system of New Jersey to a program being run out of Kenya, education is becoming increasingly focused on schooling kids to become proficient users of technology. With most jobs now becoming increasingly reliant on a degree of tech savvy, and with most skills requiring a comfort with software, it’s no wonder that the education system is taking this direction. In this new climate, the laptop seems to have become the beacon leading the way.
At a middle school in Iowa, laptops are the focus of a new educational method called “flipping classrooms”. The method is based on reconstructing the traditional model of teachers giving basic instruction in the classroom, with homework being the place for deeper learning. In a flipped classroom, each student has a laptop, and the students all consume their basic instruction through videos and other media at home. When they get to the classroom, the teacher then focuses on problem solving with smaller groups or individual students and answering questions on the material. The initial instruction can easily be done once and recorded, so valuable teaching time can be dedicated to the tailored learning that students need.
The deeper learning takes place with the instructor, where it can be customized and adapted, while the basic material introduction is done at home beforehand. “My in-class time is much more structured toward students working together in groups, problem solving,” said math teacher Dan Sauser to The Gazette. “If there are questions that arise, I can get them on the right track instead of them being at home and frustrated.”
Students can learn at their own pace, and the recorded teaching can be pitch perfect because schools can edit, reshoot and rethink lessons until they work, but that’s not the only benefit. By giving the students their own laptops, and allowing them to use them in a structured environment, the students become more comfortable with technology. Many people do not realize that, particularly for poorer students without access to a computer, inexperience with technology can become a serious burden that makes independent learning difficult, and introduces more disadvantages from the moment the student leaves school and either does further study or enters the workplace.
Teachers and schools will be faced with challenges in trying to bring this new form of learning to their students and schools on a bigger scale, but solutions are not far behind. Schools will struggle to budget for new laptops, but school administrators are finding laptops for sale, and managing to spend less than you would expect. Schools can pick up used laptops, and they can engage with the community to receive donations in the forms of old technology that might otherwise be flogged on eBay. With such potential in the idea, our educators will find a way around the challenges.