15 April 2016

Do laptops aid student learning?

Author :

In 2008, the Australian Government introduced the Digital Education Revolution (DER), which aims to have a 1:1 student to computer ratio for years 9-12 by 2012.

There are five objectives to this project:

  • To have wireless enabled laptop with educational and productivity software to every NSW public school student in years 9-12
  • Professional learning and curriculum support for NSW public schools teachers and school leaders
  • Revised policies and procedures
  • Wireless access points – one in every learning space and library in all NSW public schools
  • On-site technical support services in targeted schools, including 400 full time Technology Support Officers

The target of 1:1 student to computer ratio was achieved by the beginning of 2012, along with a further roll out of laptops to year 9 students in 2013.

With the extra funding dedicated to the DER program, schools and the Government needs to evaluate the effectiveness of the 1:1 program and if this technological change has enhanced students’ learning within classrooms and how this change has impacted both students and staff.

Recently, schools are beginning to move to the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program, where students are able to select and choose their own laptops, following certain guidelines and specs on the device provided by the school.

In a similar program in USA, studies have found that students involved in these programs have become self-directed learners and were more engaged and motivated and teachers were shifting to more student-centred practices. They have also found that the use of laptops in classroom has improved students’ performance in several curriculum areas.

On the other hand, best-performing education systems, such as those in East Asia, have not been using technology in classrooms as much as schools in western countries. 

So is having laptops in classrooms helping or hindering students from learning in classrooms?

In a survey from a study conducted by the University of Michigan Centre for Research on Learning and Teaching shows that 75% of the students (in the survey group) admitted that bringing laptops to classrooms has increased the amount of time they spent on unrelated learning activities, including checking emails and social websites. On top of this, 46% of the students, in the survey group, felt distracted when they are seated next to other students who are using a mobile device.

However, the study also shows that if teachers or instructors integrated the use of laptops for classroom activities such as asking and answering questions, taking notes, annotating powerpoint slides, rating course materials, it is reported that there is a higher level of engagement.

So how effective are the DER and BYOD programs?  Do you have a child who is currently under one of these programs? Comment on your thoughts below. 

Being brought up in a typical Chinese family in Australia, Vivian takes pride as an ABC (Australia-born Chinese) where she happily embraces both the Chinese and Australian cultures. 

In high school, Vivian wanted to become a fashion designer, however she has developed a passion for running events after working backstage for multiple live shows. Prior to starting at Akolade, Vivian worked 4 years in the wine industry and she misses the wine tasting sessions and openly drinking on the job. As the Marketing Coordinator, Vivian enjoys using her creativity to design unique and fun campaigns for each event. In her spare time, Vivian loves to spend time with her two adorable cat and dog. 

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