Fluck (2011)

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Fluck, A. (2011) Laptop classes in some Australian government primary schools. Australian Educational Computing, Vol.26, No.1. http://acce.edu.au/sites/acce.edu.au/files/pj/journal/26_1LaptopClass_p10-15.pdf (accessed 24-Jul-2012)

Addresses the question why Australia, which was an early adopter of 1:1 computing in schools, has fallen behind?

This is a study of 6 primary schools across Australia having at least a full class of computers with individual laptop computers. The researcher spent one day in each school and observed a lesson and interviewed the main class teacher.

A diverse range of activities were undertaken in the schools, many of which were only possible through use of computers. The researcher observed that lesser computer provision (than 1:1) would have been highly disruptive in terms of classroom management.

New topics were introduced via the various laptop programmes. These were based around:

1. The study of the technology itself including operational and social implications

2. Technology used to facilitate learning in conventional curriculum areas

3. New topics (eg robotics) and new ways of learning (eg conferencing)

New pedagogies were also introduced:

1. Use of a VLE. This required a lotof preparation by the teacher but allowed for continuity in case of absence and could be replicated for future years.

2. Whole class marking facilitated via use of example put on whiteboard for pupils to share.

3. Some programmes allowed pupils to progress at their own speed.

Impact on learning:

1. Teachers reported greater engagement

2. They were wary of using standardised test results to measure success as it was felt handwriting skills could diminish through keyboard work

3. It was felt that individual feedback helped pupils with ADHD

Study identified 3 tensions:

1. Diversity of implementation and expectation. Especially the huge disparity between the parental cost contribution and lack of alignment with pupils ownership/ability to take computer home.

2. Conflicting views about supporting or transforming curriculum. Impact of technology is difficult to measure especially when assessed against conventional curriculum.

3. Difficulties with wireless networking. There was inadequate knowledge about suitable wireless. researcher suggests that low-lag wireless networking is essential.