Writing a small piece for the school newsletter about the progress of the DER roll-out and the use of laptops amongst students, led me to the conclusion that in many respects the results speak for themselves. The levels of student engagement are very high. Students have readily taken to programs like OneNote particularly where they’ve had guidance and leadership from their teachers. In my own Elective Geography class we’ve been studying World Development. We began with the Lenovo desk top computers and talked about the capabilities of OneNote before the students had their laptops. Since I had one from July onwards I was able to demonstrate OneNote using a digital projector. I also travelled to the UK with my iPhone and laptop during the school break. I had lots of visual material to show them. I had Photoshop Elements panorama capability working overtime. We’d also been using Delicious for most of the year. So when the laptops arrived we were already in stride.
Now that they have the laptops we’ve moved onto a case study of development in Indonesia. I’ve suggested that students select one province for a more detailed treatment. There’s a task sheet/study guide and a suggested OneNote format on Moodle. I’ve also given them outlines of apropriate tags for book marking the products of their research on Delicious. Everyone’s networked on Delicious so the research process is one of sharing and collaboration. It’s a comprehensive class so I’ve posted a basic set of resources on Moodle under the suggested research headings, for those that need more structure or simply work slower.
I’ve become very conscious of the different learning styles and rates of learning amongst my students. Having set the task, I’m in a much better position now to work one to one with them exploring the issues that arise for them as they attempt it. I’m also noticing the varying levels of digital literacy but particularly I’m noticing their desire to share information. This is certainly something I’ve fostered, but their existing use of social media sites has ensured that many of them are most ready and willing to work in this manner. Some time back I wrote about the importance of Giving Students Access to Social media Tools
In preparing my recent article I asked members of the class to write me a paragraph giving their response to the laptop roll-out and their first impression of using wireless networks and laptops in education. One student wrote some very interesting comments. While quite positive about the roll-out the student also expressed a plea for further access to web2.0 possibilities.
Without the use of simple communication sites and programs such as MSN, Ebuddy, MySpace, Twitter, Skype, Ventrillo and Facebook the laptops become a tool for writing, a fancy workbook. The whole idea of the laptops is to connect students all around the country.
So this student is very clear on the importance of communication. We’ll discuss this further but I know from my conversations with the student that the views expressed are grounded in a commitment to learning communities, to sharing and to the creation of new knowledge in those communities.
I thought this was summed up very well on Charles Leadbeater’s site where I found this short video