1:1 Initiatives – Not Much to Report – Wait Maybe There is Something

I happened across a recent article on 1:1 laptop programs by accident. A post from the National School Boards Association referenced a recent article in in the prestigious journal Science. The first issue of 2009 was devoted to technology in education and there was an article on Laptop Programs (Zucker & Light). In the end, I must say the article was pretty generic. While a prestigious general science journal, I forget that the topic discussed is something those of us focused on technology integrating read at every opportunity so I encountered nothing I felt was a great revelation. I was hoping that someone had new and impressive data to report.

Perhaps the one paragraph I found helpful focused on a 4-year longitudinal study being conduced in Texas. Most work in this area must rely on samples of convience. The Texas study includes a large number of schools with laptops and matched schools without such initiatives. It takes money and the right circumstances to do research on this topic. Unfortunately, the study found no impact on reading and writing performance and perhaps a slight advantage in mathematics. In addition, the study determined that “the availability of computer technology by itself had little or not impact on the intellectual challenge of teachers’ lessons.” Such conclusions seem all too common. I am going to have to attempt to locate the Texas study (not published in a journal as far as I can tell from the Science article). My question would be did the laptop initiative focus only on the equipment and how to use it or was there a plan for curriculum reform that teachers ignored or found impractical.

BTW – the reports from the Texas Immersion Pilot work are available. I do note that the achievement data from the 4th year of the study is a little different than that reported in the Science article. One indicator of some unique interest is something called “home learning” –

For Cohort 3, the extent of Home Learning was a positive and statistically significant predictor of both TAKS reading and mathematics scores.

I think this makes sense. Perhaps simply finding ways to engage students to extend time spent will produce changes.