Light Offerings

Personal Laptops and Benefits for Learning

Posted by jturner56 on June 5, 2015

Came across an interesting summary from DERN (ACER’s Digital education Research Network)

Calculating whether 1:1 laptop programs transform maths teaching

It reported that “In any transformative practice the practitioner needs to be convinced of the value of change and its impact on learning and student outcomes. The use of laptops to do what can be done with pen and paper is diminishing the potential of embedding ICT in teaching and learning, when the tools can be used in creative and innovative ways to engage and stimulate the learner and achieve in higher level learning.”

What is of interest is that it comes 20 years after I completed my PHD in a not dissimilar study. I found almost the same outcome, although the school structure characterised by  Common Testing also played a significant part with teachers who might willing to adapt more towards supporting student learning through construction in digital domains.

Until education changes it values for the requirement “show us what you can do with your mathematical understanding” from a standardised testing view based on Plato inspired externalised content, to valuing demonstrations of learning constructions in authentic environments (ie making learning visible), we will probably be looking at similar discrepancies between School Mathematics and Real Mathematics (although probably extenuated by the growing gap between school and personal views on digital) after another twenty years. Meanwhile teachers can rely on lack of time or training issues to defend any attempt to change approaches (The only difference from 20 years ago was that access was also included; which still holds for many schools).

Yet the gap is not that wide if only educators would be more hopeful and less fearful (difficult I know in the current climate for many). Practical ideas arising from teachers willingness to work together are there to be embraced and the student learning benefits through engagement, appreciation, new connections, and personalising ownership of learning, can help build future learning depth and strength; something needed now more than ever.

The example in my Mobile Learning paper on the Grade 8 Mathematics + Design Technology project, where students used SketchUp to mathematically model a package before the practical construction, is testament to this.

As countless people have testified, it’s not the technology that’s the issue.


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