Laptops and the Social Web are dangerous!

A while back I shared one of my two favorite passages from Pamela Livingston’s excellent book, 1-to-1 Learning: Laptop Programs That Work. Here's the other one:

[W]e need to make “The Shift.” The Shift: to classrooms that are not solely teacher-centric, with the teacher as lone disseminator of knowledge and the children in the awe-stricken and lesser role of recipients of the knowledge. The Shift: where the teacher sometimes has the central role when he or she explains and coaches and elaborates on work to be done … but not always. The Shift: where the learners sometimes have the central role, either individually or in groups. The Shift: where the roles of teacher and learner are fuzzy; sometimes the teacher learns from the students; sometimes the students learn from one another; and, yes, sometimes the students learn from the teacher. The Shift: where sometimes it’s hard to know who has the central role, where activities are buzzing along, learning is happening, dynamics are shifting, and no one is “looking up” to anyone as the sole source of knowledge.

Nothing jumpstarts The Shift quite like 1–to-1. Because when every student in the room has a [laptop], he or she does not have to look “up” to the teacher for resources or ideas – the student has resources at his or her fingertips. There is no distribution or retrieval of materials, no sole purveyor of information, and no firm start or stop to learning because it can continue beyond the classroom into the library, or home, or anywhere.

Some find The Shift dangerous. And in a way, it is. It’s dangerous to the educator who controls the classroom with an iron fist and wants all the answers on the test to be things he or she said in class, repeated word-for-word. It’s dangerous to educators who have assigned the same report on Gandhi over the past 20 years and haven’t started to require synthesis or analysis of information. It’s dangerous to teachers who physically stay in one place – the front of the classroom – and move only to write on the chalkboard or whiteboard. It’s dangerous to educators who don’t want anyone to “read ahead” or to “think ahead.”

It’s dangerous to educators who view themselves as the most knowledgeable person in the room and are personally invested in staying that way. It’s dangerous to teachers who haven’t paid attention to their unengaged students and keep covering the material anyway, they way they think it ought to be covered, believing students should adapt to their approach.

If you haven’t checked out Pamela’s book, it’s well worth the read. I give it 4 highlighters.


5 Responses to “Laptops and the Social Web are dangerous!”

  1. We need to learn more ways of using technology appropriately, because through it most of human knowledge is now available. Look at the ruckus over President Obama’s education speech, which will be available on TV and the Web. I’ve already blogged about that, along with some study questions of my own.

  2. Teachers who don’t move, who don’t want kids to read ahead, who fear change, who use the same assignments… I must have lead a uniquely charmed professional life, because I haven’t met these teachers since about 1982, and I don’t think there were too many of them around then.
    Same old, same old.

  3. Mr Chips –
    Myself, I was in school long after 1982 and this describes all my teachers, so you have led a charmed life. These teachers are so close to the soul of many schools that I agree with those who see 1:1 programs as dangerous to school, or at least to many schools.

  4. Some of your trillions of readers might enjoy my contribution to the 1:1 book –

  5. As a 25 year old teacher who walked in to my school this year and was almost immediately crippled by lack of ability to customize the technology I was handed I can say…

    Having a laptop in the hands of every student is dangerous to the educator who doesn’t want his students looking at music video clips on iTunes instead of paying attention to the lesson.

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