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Envision3

Rethink everything.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction!

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So what始s the problem?! !

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The Relationship Between Computers and Constructivism!

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The Integration Question!

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The Case for 1-to-1!

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The Case for Constructivist Education!

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The research is in; 1-to-1 increases student learning and achievement!

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1-to-1 success stories! !

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1-to-1 closes the digital divide! !

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1-to-1 helps students develop the skills necessary for 21st century success!

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1-to-1 connects a community!

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1-to-1 fuels individualized learning!

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1-to-1 leverages existing habits and lifestyles!

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1-to-1 fuels economic development!

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I.!

1-to-1 endorsements!

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1-to-1 brings our students, our community and our world closer together! !

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Conclusion!

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Endnotes!

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What does it mean to lift the veil of ignorance today?


Almost anyone who visits in the schools of East St. Louis, even for a short time, comes away profoundly shaken. These are innocent children, after all. They have done nothing wrong. They have committed no crime. They are too young to have offended us in any way at all. One searches for some way to understand why a society as rich and, frequently, as generous as ours would leave these children in their penury and squalor for so long-and with so little public indignation.

Admittedly, the soil cannot be de-leaded overnight, and the ruined spirits of the men who camp out in the mud and shacks close to the wire fencing of Monsanto can't be instantly restored to life, nor can the many illnesses these children suffer suddenly be cured, nor can their asthma be immediately relieved. Why not, at least, give children in this city something so spectacular, so wonderful and special in their public schools that hundreds of them, maybe thousands, might be able somehow to soar up above the hopelessness, the clouds of smoke and sense of degradation all around them? Jonathan Kozol “Lifting the Veil� Savage Inequalities The Booker T. Washington Memorial (1991) Tuskegee University


Right now… We are at a critical juncture in the course and history of education. Despite spending hundreds of billions of dollars each year on education,1 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test scores indicate that less than 35% of our students are proficient in reading, science and math.2 Drop out and truancy rates in many of our schools remain astronomically high, while graduation and four-year college placement rates remain distressingly low.3 Even our best students rank well behind the top students from other countries in virtually every statistical category.4 So while we debate the problem, ascribe blame, and argue about who or what is responsible for the current state of education, millions of children are being left behind or lost. So what do we do? How do we effectively reach a generation of “fast twitch”5 students many of whom seem distracted, bored and completely unmotivated by education? What must we adapt? Where do we begin?

What we need is a radical reconstruction of how we ccccccccccteach.

Outside of the classroom, our children live in a world fueled by technology, knowledge and innovation.6 They instant message, email, download music, surf the Internet on wireless computers or hand held devices and communicate on Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites. They move, they multitask, they interact with each other and with technology. They are, according to the U.S. Department of Education, “ultra-communicators.”7 But inside of our classrooms, the technology-rich, multimedia world that our children know so well is left, quite literally, at the front door. Look at most schools today and what do you see? You see learning environments that look…institutional. Indeed, without close inspection it can be difficult to tell the difference between a school and a factory or warehouse of the same era. Like factories, schools emphasize command and top down control—the orderly assembly and processing of aggregated products. Both in form and function, these institutions reflect the linear, objectivist mindset of the Industrial Age.

The question we must ask is why?


Why have we been teaching students essentially the same way for almost two centuries? something as critically important to our future as a nation been so resistant to change?

Why has

For more than 100 years, schools met the needs of our students by organizing learning around a curriculum delivered in standardized time periods called Carnegie Units. Within this structure, curriculum was defined as a set of units, sequences and facts. As any teacher who has struggled to race through a standardized curriculum often derided as “a mile wide and an inch deep” will tell you, these “units” were based on time served rather than the promotion of deep understanding of ideas and concepts. But for the most part, this system of education prepared generations of students to find their place in American society. Where it did not, the economy had a place for people who were willing to work hard even if they lacked the basic skills to succeed in school. But our world is very different now. Designed in response to different demographic and economic conditions, our current pedagogy—or model of teaching—is simply not responsive to todayʼs realities. The size, structure and traditional orientation of our schools contribute to student alienation, disinterest, boredom and academic failure. Too many schools are characterized by large, compartmentalized, and impersonal settings; low expectations for student performance; and curricula guided by dated and autonomous departmental priorities. The studentʼs role in the educational process is passive and subordinate. There is a pervasive over emphasis on teacher-directed instruction and a fragmented curriculum that prevents students from seeing the connections between the content learned in school and real life. The vast majority of schools find ways to divide students on some real or perceived measure of ability, which diminishes opportunities to learn for some students and contributes to increasing inequalities among students over time. This inadequacy is particularly endemic to urban, high-poverty areas where too many students leave school without developing the skills required for 21st century success. Evidence of poor student performance in these schools is indicative of the fact that too many students feel disenfranchised, disconnected and disengaged from learning. This is especially true for students who are at risk due to poverty, cultural differences, or the demands of learning a second language, and a lack of a clear path to adulthood. Unacceptably high drop-out rates and the high rate of student failure underscore the need to restructure low-performing schools into more engaging and supportive learning communities. But change is in the air. The growing push for educational reform is driven by the widespread recognition that our schools must change, and change fundamentally, if they are to prepare this and future generations of students to compete and succeed in the global economy of the 21st century. Today, our students represent an unprecedented level of diversity—in abilities, learning styles, prior educational experiences, attitudes and habits related to learning, language, culture and home life. The challenge of educating these students requires a new vision for school and a new orientation for the educators who make the decisions that influence our studentsʼ lives. It requires a commitment to basing instructional decisions on the promotion of deep and meaningful understanding rather and student learning than easily quantifiable measures such as units, letter grades, graduation rates or standardized test scores. Most of all, successfully meeting this challenge will require throwing off the shackles of time and tradition and the ability to embrace something different, something new—something that truly has the potential uplift and empower the largest and most diverse student population in our nationʼs history. But we can do this. We can make a change. We have the tools. We have the technology. Together, we can usher in a new golden age of education—

Right now.


In my educational career—which now spans four decades—I have seen four or five major reform efforts in education. In every case the reform was designed to tweak an inherited system of education that no longer worked. Reform has usually meant that we add on a new program or service, expand the number of teachers or class hours or buildings, increase the standards, but leave the traditional concept of "school" in place. This tweaking of the old system still has a lot of currency. Governors, legislators, business leaders, and parents still think we can reform education if we reduce class size, extend the school day and school year, require standardized tests in every state, and make education available to everyone through distance education programs. All of these reform efforts are designed to provide more of what should not be provided in the first place, more inadequate education for the times in which we live. Ten years from now there will be numerous reports on the devastating failures of the great reform efforts that hovered on both sides of the millennium.... Substantive reform will mean blowing up the culturally embedded concept of school.... Substantive reform will radically change the inherited model of schooling.... [Substantive reform will] create a new paradigm of education. excerpts from the article

“A Learning College for the 21st Century: An Interview with Terry O’Banion” Terry OʼBanion and James L. Morrison


I.!

So whatĘźs the problem?

There was a time in this country, romanticized in the novels of Horatio Alger, that vision, thrift, hard work, and not necessarily a formal education or cognitive skills, were considered the keys to success. However, in the age of information technology, the “Digital Age,� dedication, desire and even the best of intentions absent education are simply not enough. In the 21st century, children who cannot read, write, reason or communicate effectively will be virtually unemployable. Children without the critical thinking and cognitive skills required by the rapidly changing global economy of today will be lost. But a large part of the problem in education is that we have the problem all wrong. As a nation, we want to blame someone, anyone, for the failure of our schools. Bad teachers. Lazy students. Uninvolved parents. The one seeming constant is that we tend to view the education problem as a people problem. But the education problem is not a people problem. It is, first and foremost, a pedagogy problem.

ped.da.go.gy: The art or science of teaching; instructional methods; principles of education; the activity of educating; activities that impart knowledge or skill.


II. The case for constructivist education Our traditional model of education, with the teacher serving as the primary source of knowledge and the student acting as the passive recipient of that knowledge is no longer adequate in the knowledge-driven world of the 21st century. The roles of teacher and student must change. We can no longer afford students who simply master the art of listening, remembering and repeating; we need students who are curious, creative and active participants in the process of learning. Students today must know why, where and how to find information relevant to their lives and then have the critical thinking and cognitive skills necessary to analyze and apply this knowledge in real world contexts. A pedagogical shift from teacher push to learner pull is consistent with the essential message of constructivism—that true and meaningful “learning” occurs only when the individual student actively builds—or constructs—his or her own knowledge and skills.12 The verb "to construct" comes from the Latin “con struere,” which means to arrange or give structure.13 Proponents of constructivism believe that knowledge is "created, discovered and experienced," not taught through the rote recitation of facts.14 In a constructivist classroom, the teacher is one of many resources the student may learn from, not the primary source of information, and students are encouraged to ask questions, carry out their own experiments, make their own analogies and come to their own conclusions.15 The teacher, in turn, acts as a mediator—a guide—and must be willing to relinquish absolute control of the process of learning.16


Learners bring unique prior knowledge, experience, and beliefs to a learning situation. Every learner has experiences that influence his or her understanding of the world. Those unique experiences are the foundation for learning; they provide opportunities for personal connections with new content.

The Six Principles of

Learning is internally controlled and mediated. Learners take in information, process it to fit their personal frameworks, and build new understanding. That knowledge construction occurs internally, in the private domain of each individual.

Knowledge is constructed in multiple ways, through a variety of tools, resources, experiences and contexts. Constructivist learning theory tells us that we learn in a variety of ways. The more opportunities we have, and the more actively engaged we are, the richer our understanding. Good teachers have always used experience as a valuable instructional tool; that is why we arrange field trips and hands-on projects. It is why an internship or apprenticeship is essential to the completion of most vocations, including teaching.


Constructivist Learning

Social interaction introduces multiple p e r s p e c t i v e s t h r o u g h r e fl e c t i o n , collaboration, negotiation, and shared meaning. In many situations, learning is enhanced by verbal representation of thoughts--it helps to speak about an idea, to clarify procedures, or float a theory to an audience. The exchange of different perceptions between learners enriches an individual's insight.

Learning is both an active and reflective process. Learners combine experience (action) and thought (reflection) to build meaning. Both parts must be present to support the creation of new knowledge.

Learning is a process of accommodation, assimilation or rejection to construct new conceptual structures, meaningful representations or new mental models. Every person is surrounded by an infinite variety of images, ideas, information, and other stimuli that provide raw material for thought and understanding. If new information matches the learner's existing understanding, it is easily assimilated. If it does not match, the learner must determine how to accommodate it, either by forming new understanding, or rejecting the information.


Constructivism as an educational theory or instructional practice is not new. Its origins can be traced back to the early 20th century work of John Dewey, whose view of “progressive education” was that greater emphasis should be placed on the broadening of intellect and the development of problem solving and critical thinking skills rather than the rote regurgitation of facts.18 In 1907, Maria Montessori based her first Montessori school on the belief that a child constructs knowledge and intelligence primarily through his or her own activity.19 Jean Piaget, a contemporary of Montessori, also created a highly influential model of early childhood development based on the belief that developing children learn to understand and respond to their environment by building cognitive structures—or mental "maps"—and these cognitive structures grow in sophistication over time through experience, experimentation and exposure.20 The most influential constructivist theorist of the latter part of the 20th century is probably Jerome Brunner, who asserted that learning occurs only when students are allowed to pursue concepts on their own, individually or as a group, so that new information and knowledge is built, or “constructed,” on knowledge already attained.21

The work of Dewey, Montessori, Piaget and Brunner has been enormously influential, particularly in the field of early childhood education. There are currently over 3,000 private Montessori Schools in the United States as well as hundreds of public schools that offer Montessori programs. Deweyʼs theories on “progressive education” have inspired advocates of educational reform for decades. Brunner served on advisory committees for two presidents (Kennedy and Johnson) and most pre-kindergarten programs to this day refer to the work of Piaget as the theoretical underpinning for their method of instruction. Despite this, and despite a wealth of research from other constructivist theorists, scientists and reform-minded educators extolling its virtue, constructivism has been slow to gain acceptance as an instructional model in our middle and high schools. The primary critique is that constructivism seems too loose, too “permissive,” and that it will require teachers to abandon a formal assessment-based curriculum in order “to pursue the whims of their students.”22

Criticisms of this sort underscore the inherent tension between constructivism and many of our past and present efforts at educational reform. The primary focus of constructivism is better, deeper, more meaningful learning. Unfortunately, claims of “better learning” do not readily assuage the concerns of educational stakeholders who demand outcomes that can be easily tracked, marked and measured. As a result, instead of educational reform that focuses on better learning, many of our efforts at “reform” have focused on quantifiable results—most notably, improved standardized test scores. Standardized tests have, of course, been used by educators with varying degrees of success for decades. But the importance of test scores has risen to a new, unparalleled, and some would say dangerous level, particularly in the aftermath of the “No Child Left Behind” (“NCLB”) Act of 2001.

The intent behind NCLB is certainly good. The goal is to bring millions of children currently “lost” in the educational system back into the mainstream of learning and achievement by creating new levels of accountability. NCLB requires that all children perform at grade level in reading and mathematics by 2014. In order to achieve this, schools must set annual targets for raising studentsʼ academic performance. Schools that do not meet these targets face sanctions, which may include the loss of critical federal funding.23

However, NCLB allows each state to set its own educational standards and design its own standardized tests.24 This creates an obvious flaw—schools in states whose tests are rigorous run a greater risk of sanctions than schools in states whose assessments focus on basic skills.25 This forces schools boards and superintendents to make an untenable choice. Do we educate our students at a high level or do we focus on basic skills in order to produce the outcomes required by NCLB?26


The end result is a curriculum increasingly driven by assessments, and classrooms where what we teach is narrowed in order to produce gains on state mandated standardized tests. This, in and of itself, should be cause for enormous concern. But when standardized tests are also used as a basis for determining student advancement, teacher salaries and job security, district funding and schoolsʼ autonomy, all of which are the case under NCLB, and the consequence of performing becomes more important than the quality of student learning, then we have moved into dangerous territory educationally.

In too many classrooms across our country, meaningful learning is being shoved aside as teachers focus on boosting test scores. Education is now characterized by a test-taking frenzy as teachers (by necessity) teach to the test. However, this kind of “learning for the test” results in a shallow, disconnected and easilyforgotten understanding of content and leads to what Joseph Renzulli of the National Center on the Gifted and Talented refers to as the new 3 Rʼs of education: the “ram, remember, regurgitate” curriculum.” And with many schools still in the process of aligning their curriculum to state exams, one can only wonder at the potential gap in the future between test results (good or bad) and what our students are actually learning (and retaining) in the classroom.


Which begs a critical question—what exactly do these standardized tests, which have become the driving force in modern-day education, actually measure? Intelligence? Creativity? Talent? Job readiness? The answer, for the most part, is no. Many educators believe that standardized tests simply measure the ability to recall and repeat discreet bits of information. Research also suggests that some of the recent, highly-publicized, post-NCLB test score gains have more to do with schools aligning their curriculum to standardized exams and increased district spending on bolstering test-taking skills than better learning or better schools. Despite this, and despite a mountain of evidence which suggests that the relationship between test scores and actual intelligence is tenuous at best, students who test well are still deemed “smart” while students who test poorly are often branded as “challenged,” “deficient” or “dumb.” But is this fair? Should standardized tests which essentially assess test taking skills set the standard by which we measure the intelligence of our students or the quality of our schools?

The proper focus of education in a knowledge-driven economy should be creating better learners—and students who know how to learn. To achieve this, students should be given the freedom to think for themselves, to question, to reflect, and to interact with ideas, objects, and each other in an effort to construct meaning.27 If this sort of intellectual freedom does not fit what we test or how we test, then the problem does not lie with the students but with the test. Narrowing what we teach is not the answer. This “pushes aside big ideas and intellectual curiosity” and is fundamentally inconsistent with the mission of education, which, ideally, should be to engage, motivate and prepare all of our students to live and thrive in the 21st century.28

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A.! !

Recent test scores and cognitive research further underscore the need for educational reform

After spending decades being related to the role of an “interesting” but “impractical” concept, constructivism is finally making significant headway as an instructional model beyond early childhood education. The primary factor fueling this shift is the increasing recognition that our educational system as currently constituted is not getting better, it is getting worse. These concerns are only heightened by U.S. studentsʼ abysmal performance when compared to their counterparts in other countries. On the initial Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) for example, developed to assess studentsʼ ability to apply knowledge in real world contexts, U.S. students ranked in the bottom third. On the just released Third International Math and Science Survey (TIMMS), U.S. 12th graders placed 19th out of 21 countries in math, ahead of only Cyprus and South Africa. In science we were 6th from the bottom. In advanced math our top students ranked 15th out of 16th as compared to the top students from other participating countries and in advanced science our top students ranked dead last. (See, appendix A).

These results suggest that our “ram, remember and regurgitate” curriculum does not serve our students well. While U.S. students still test fairly well on assessments which measure what we remember, our students fare poorly on assessments which measure our ability to analyze and apply what weʼve learned. However, this skill—encouraging critical thinking and the ability to think beyond what weʼre told—is at the essence of constructivist learning and one of the critical skills necessary to compete and succeed in the 21st century.

Another factor fueling increased acceptance of constructivist learning is a better understanding of how people learn. Our traditional notion of IQ and its inherent restrictions has been expanded to include the concept of multiple intelligences and, therefore, the need to account for differentiated learning styles, another fundamental tenant of constructivist learning. Recent research in the area of neuroscience also supports the constructivist view of education that people learn more and learn better when they are engaged in active, relevant and intellectually stimulating work.29 This research shows: (1) Learning


actually impacts the physical structure of the human brain; (2) experience and practice increase learning; and (3) there is a symbiotic relationship between experience and practice and structural changes to the brain.30

It is important to note that the design of this research was not to provide support for one instructional model over another. In fact, researchers explicitly rejected “the either-or dichotomies that have plagued the field of education� and recognized the value of both constructivist and lecture based instruction based on the topic and the specific needs of the students at that time.31 However, the one common finding was that education, irrespective of the instructional model employed at any given time, must be learnercentered. Teachers must understand and respect the knowledge, skills and attitudes that each student brings to the classroom, monitor the individual progress of each student and devise tasks that are individualized and appropriate for each student.32 But is this realistic?

Many of our classrooms are already overcrowded. Many of our teachers are already overworked. Can we expect teachers to take on the additional burden of providing individualized, constructivist instruction?

The answer is no.

At least not without a substantial pedagogical shift. There is certainly a time and a place for lecture-based instruction and traditional educational tools. But if education is to make a significant leap forward, we need less teacher talk and more student engagement. We need to push teachers away from blackboards and to pull students to the front of the room. Most importantly, schools must, at long last, provide students and teachers with the learning tools they need in order to make student-driven, constructivist learning a realistic and ordinary part of our 21st century classrooms.


we tell you our tribute to teachers


we tell you our tribute to teachers

We tell you... Teach! Reach! Engage! And motivate our students. We tell you... Prepare our students for the world as it exists now. Not for our past... But for their future. But what are tools we give you? What are your weapons of war? Worn and recycled textbooks? An overhead projector? A stick of chalk? A piece of slate? We tell you... Over and over and over again— You’re not good enough. Their failure is YOUR failure. Do more! Do it better! Do it now. But honestly— Who’s failed whom? Are you failing our children? Or have we failed you?

to read the full text go to: http://web.me.com/lawsummers/E3/we_tell_you.html


III. ! The relationship between computers and constructivism If we can’t REACH our children, we can’t TEACH our children. To tell an educator who has the unenviable task of looking into blank and distracted faces day after day that many of our students are bored and unmotivated in the classroom would not be a revelation. They already know. And though they may not use the phrase “constructivist education,” most educators readily concede that students need to be more active and engaged in the process of learning. The question that elicits the most debate is “how do we do it?”

What we must first realize, and this is sometimes difficult to fully grasp, is that young people today are fundamentally different than students from prior generations. They speak a different language. They have different learning preferences. They are—no pun intended—“wired” differently. Traditionally, learning was a quiet, reflective activity. However, children today have grown up in a world that is fast moving, fast talking, wireless and remote controlled. They have televisions that receive hundreds of channels, computers and PDAʼs that fit into their pockets and cell phones that allow for immediate contact from any location to any location. Each day of their lives, they are bombarded with a seemingly endless array of sights, sounds and constantly evolving technologies.33


Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants By Marc Prensky From On the Horizon (NCB University Press, Vol. 9 No. 5, October 2001) © 2001 Marc Prensky

It is amazing to me how in all the hoopla and debate these days about the decline of education in the US we ignore the most fundamental of its causes. Our students have changed radically. Todayʼs students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach. Todayʼs students have not just changed incrementally from those of the past, nor simply changed their slang, clothes, body adornments, or styles, as has happened between generations previously. A really big discontinuity has taken place. One might even call it a “singularity” – an event which changes things so fundamentally that there is absolutely no going back. This so-called “singularity” is the arrival and rapid dissemination of digital technology in the last decades of the 20th century. Todayʼs students – K through college – represent the first generations to grow up with this new technology. They have spent their entire lives surrounded by and using computers, video games, digital music players, video cams, cell phones, and all the other toys and tools of the digital age. Todayʼs average college grads have spent less than 5,000 hours of their lives reading, but over 10,000 hours playing video games (not to mention 20,000 hours watching TV). Computer games, email, the Internet, cell phones and instant messaging are integral parts of their lives. It is now clear that as a result of this ubiquitous environment and the sheer volume of their interaction with it, todayʼs students think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors. These differences go far further and deeper than most educators suspect or realize. “Different kinds of experiences lead to different brain structures, “ says Dr. Bruce D. Berry of Baylor College of Medicine. As we shall see in the next installment, it is very likely that our studentsʼ brains have physically changed – and are different from ours – as a result of how they grew up. But whether or not this is literally true, we can say with certainty that their thinking patterns have changed.... What should we call these “new” students of today? Some refer to them as the N-[for Net]gen or D-[for digital]-gen. But the most useful designation I have found for them is Digital Natives. Our students today are all “native speakers” of the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet.


The challenge facing education is to create learning environments which more closely resemble studentsʼ preferred learning styles—which means that instruction should be visual, colorful, immediate and interactive. Traditional classroom tools— textbooks,workbooks, blackboards and the occasional overhead projector—do not accomplish this goal. Quite the opposite. Author, educator, public speaker and awardwinning “futurist” David Thornburg notes: “When kids who are...fluent with [technology] encounter an educational system that is predominantly driven by the awesome power of a sheet of slate and a stick of chalk, then they're in trouble. Or the teacher is in trouble, more appropriately, because the student will just tune [the teacher] out....[He'll say,] “It's not worth my time to try it here. I don't have access to the resources. I'll just get through the day.”34

However, this disconnect is no longer necessary. We now have two of the most powerful learning tools ever invented at our daily disposal—the personal computer and the internet. These tools offer students a variety of real-world and interactive learning experiences that cannot be replicated by more traditional classroom tools. This does not mean that books, blackboards, microscopes, maps, paintbrushes or other traditional classroom tools should be abandoned. What this does mean is that computers, when used in the right way, provide teachers and schools with a unique and powerful means to promote active, individualized, student-centered constructivist learning.

First, the use of technology is immediate and interactive. Students learn by doing, receive immediate feedback, continually refine their understanding and have the opportunity to build new knowledge on existing knowledge.35

Second, the use of technology provides the student with direct and unobstructed access to information and knowledge.36 Depending on the parameters set by teachers, students have the freedom to choose what sources to examine, what avenues to pursue and must decide what information is, and is not, relevant to the task at hand. Rather than being passive recipients of information, students are now in control of the process of discovery and exploration.

Third, the use of technology allows students to work at their own pace. Rather than a classroom of students working and learning simultaneously, technology allows each student to complete work independently. Students who begin to fall behind can receive immediate, individualized assistance from the teacher while other students proceed with more complex tasks.

Fourth, the use of technology promotes both active and reflective learning.Constructivist theorists believe that learners combine experience (action) and thought (reflection) to build meaning. Researching and gathering data, communicating and collaborating with other students, working through a challenging online research project are all active processes. However, online communication, web boards, blogs, online journals and exchanging emails with other students or teachers on a particular subject also require thought and reflection. Students must think about what they have learned and what they want to say.

These collaborative, reflective experiences also provide teachers with a unique opportunity to build knowledge on existing knowledge, a fundamental tenant of constructivism. When students collaborate and communicate (as opposed to simply taking notes and listening), it forces them to share what they understand. This, in turn, provides the teacher with the opportunity to assess each studentʼs unique understanding of the subject matter and how to build on that understanding.


Fifth, technology allows for “anytime, anywhere” learning. Learning is continuous—it can take place anywhere at any moment—and ubiquitous access to technology allows students to seize the teachable moment whenever and wherever that might be.

Sixth, the use of technology creates “networked education communities.” Collaboration and communication are two of the most important elements of constructivism and technology, particularly wireless technology, allows stakeholders in an education community to freely communicate and collaborate with each other. Ideas flow and are shared. Collaboration can now extend well beyond the walls of the school building and the school day, and include teachers, students and parents from across the district, across the city, across the country, and, potentially, from across the globe.

In sum, students in technology-rich classrooms are armed with a powerful educational tool. Technology enables students to gather information as opposed to being given the information by the teacher. As autonomy increases, confidence increases and students rely more on their own initiative for knowledge creation. This process of sifting through and mentally processing information accelerates both understanding and the progression of higher-order thinking skills. Studentsʼ role broadens from knowledge recipients to knowledge finders, investigators, designers and authors.

But....

Before we espouse technology as the silver bullet that will save education, a word of caution is in order. Magical machines that will purportedly “revolutionize” education are not new. Invention after invention has been thrust at education as the next new miracle cure that will solve all of the real or perceived deficiencies with our schools. After a great deal of press, no small amount of hype, and grandiose claims of “renewed” or “revitalized” classrooms, most of these magical solutions simply fade away.

Why the dismal track record?

Because in our well-intentioned zeal to fix our schools, we sometimes forget one basic fact: machines are tools and a tool is only valuable to the extent that a human being organizes its use in a productive way. What this means relative to the use of computers in the classroom is this—computers, in and of themselves, do not improve test scores, grade point averages or student achievement. Yes, the promise of technology is real—but this promise depends on two things. First, there must be a clear vision of why technology is being used in the classroom. Second, there must be a clear understanding of what it means to “fully integrate” technology into a learning environment.


“So, inadvertently, technology seems to be coming down on the side of constructivists, who have been trying—unsuccessfully to date—to change the prevailing societal view of education. Why? Because computers undermine the didactic, lecture methodology, and, instead promote the student as a self-directed learner. And just as a change in practices with respect to racial integration led eventually to a change in racial attitudes, so a change in practices will slowly lead to a change in the educational beliefs of society. Using computers entails active learning, and this change in practice will eventually foster a shift in society's beliefs toward a more constructivist view of education." —Allan Collins


IV. ! The integration question

So what exactly does it mean to “fully integrate” technology into a learning environment?

Not what you may at first think.

Most people assume, and understandably so, that the integration question revolves around how many computers are in a school. However, “how many” addresses only one-half of the integration question and not the most important part. The most important query is not how many computers are in a classroom but why they are there. If computers, even the most advanced computers, are merely add-ons or adjuncts to the educational process, they have little if any educational value. The use of computers must be pedagogically sound. Their use must go beyond word processing and information retrieval to actual problem solving and the deep processing of ideas. Computers must increase interaction with the subject matter; encourage innovative instructional practices and facilitate quality classroom collaboration—in sum, the use of computers must improve the pedagogy.37 If this fails to occur, then the number of computers in a school is irrelevant.

The second part of the integration equation involves “how many” and “where.” On the issue of “where,” most educators now readily concede that a computer lab, even a well-stocked, ultra modern computer lab, is not integration.38 A computer lab is certainly good for special projects and for basic instruction on technology use, but any learning tool that cannot be used inside of the classroom on a daily basis cannot realistically be “fully integrated” into the curriculum. (Imagine trying to teach children how to read if you only had access to books on a rotating basis one day each month).

So the focus has shifted from building more computer labs to getting more computers into the classroom. In 1992, the average ratio of students to computers was 19-to-1. This meant that 19 students shared 1 instructional computer.39 However, the current nationwide average is down to approximately 5-to-1 (although this ratio may be significantly higher depending on the school or district).40

Is this sufficient?

There is only one answer to that question. If we are serious about integrating technology into our classrooms, closing the digital divide and providing a world class education to all of our students, then “integration” means 1-to-1 computing. It means that every student, every teacher and every administrator has a laptop or other personal portable learning device of his or her own. It means that technology becomes as commonplace and ordinary inside of our schools as it is in the workplace and virtually every other segment of our society.


BUT WE HAVE A COMPUTER LAB. WHY ISNʼT THAT ENOUGH? from the article Computer Labs: Here to Stay? by Victor Vivero

For years, educators have developed separate lesson plans for core subject areas and technology skills. But we know now that we can no longer treat technology as a disparate curriculum, according to Scott Kinney, director of the Discovery Educator Network. Kinney is a strong advocate and voice for creative and effective applications of educational technology and currently is building a force of like-minded educators drawn from all over the world. Itʼs been Kinneyʼs experience that strategically integrating technology into instructional practices promotes learning far beyond simple lecture. Technologyʼs role in motivating and engaging our students is undeniable, he says. “Simply stated, we know too much about how our students learn and the potential educational impact of technology on teaching and learning to continue ignoring it,” Kinney says. So what about computer labs? “The real issue is not how should students [access] electronic learning materials, but rather insisting that all students must have these learning resources available to them.” In a perfect world, students donʼt have to be displaced from their traditional learning environment to access electronic materials. “Ideally, all students have their own portable learning devices in a wireless-enabled world, making the worldʼs knowledge accessible to them any time and from anywhere,” Kinney says. But not every community or school is there yet. So for Kinney, computer labs still play an integral role in schools that must operate within geographic or financial constraints. Providing access to electronic resources and learning tools is a must, he adds. “For some, the only way this can be accomplished is through a computer lab. Until the day comes when we find a way to fund one-to-one initiatives across the nation for all students, schools must continue to seek alternative methods for providing students a variety of educational technologies.”


Shift your budgets But perhaps the day Kinney speaks of is already upon us—weʼre just not making it happen. Susan Patrick, former director of the U.S. Department of Educationʼs Office of Educational Technology and current CEO of the North American Council for Online Learning, says an average of $8,700.00 is spent per pupil nationwide. Only Switzerland spends more, she says. But what do we have to how for it? “Our student learning results are among the lowest of developed nations, “ she says. “We keep spending money on 1950s learning environment while other nations are converting to 21st century content and contexts for helping their students succeed.” Patrick is concerned that we are not adapting our learning environments to a digital platform. Integrating technology into old environments, like computer labs, is an outdated strategy. “We need true transformation in our schools,” she argues. Otherwise, you end up with five computers collecting dust in the back of a classroom, or worse yet, a computer lab. “How many global economy businesses operate with employees sharing computers or going to the computer lab to function?” she asks. As todayʼs global economy converts to a one-person-to-one-laptop situation, schools must stop spending money on desktop computers and move to portables, Patrick says. She insists the switch is not a budget issue but a matter of priorities. Consider the math: if a laptop costs roughly $1,000, divide that figure by a four-year lease and then a 180-day school year, and you end up with a cost equivalent to a bottle of water per student each day. The scenario is more than possible, Patrick argues, making the computer lab passé. But itʼs only a starting point. Online, students can have 24/7 access to tutoring, math classes with simulations, history with archives and databases, SAT preparation, remedial courses, rare foreign languages, college preparatory curriculum, “and so much more,” Patrick says. Schools wouldnʼt have to always play catch-up to stay relevant. What a refreshing position to be in, you think. Imagine placing all schools and all students at the cutting-edge of learning. But then just as quickly, you think, “Yeah, right. If I had a quarter for every idea I wish I could implement, Iʼd be rich. “But, Patrick says, donʼt let reality stop you from dreaming, even if it seems a little far-fetched. “We need to keep the ideas moving so people understand that change is possible,” she says. “The power of an idea can change the future … our kids canʼt wait.”


V. ! The case for 1-to-1 In his book, “A Whole New Mind,” author Dank Pink writes: “The last few decades have belonged to a certain kind of person with a certain kind of mind–computer programmers who could crank code, lawyers who could craft contracts, MBAs who could crunch numbers. But the keys to the kingdom are changing hands. The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind–creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers and meaning makers. These people—artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers—will now reap societyʼs richest rewards and share its greatest joys.”41

We are no longer a nation of “meaning makers” and “big picture thinkers.” Too much television and too little reading; too many sound bites and too little intellectual curiosity has resulted in a world where there is “data, data everywhere, but not a thought to think.”42 What we need in the 21st century, from both our students and our schools, is a greater emphasis on creativity, critical thinking and a deeper search for meaning. Robert Hutchins, the former Chancellor of the University of Chicago, once wrote: “the object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives.”

Teaching students how to educate themselves, as much as any other, is the role and function of 1-to-1 education.

What is 1-to1 education?

By definition, 1-to-1 education means that every student, every teacher and every administrator within a wireless, networked environment has a laptop computer or other personal, portable learning device of his or her own.43 A “wireless networked environment” can refer to a single classroom, a grade level, an entire school or specific grade levels throughout a school district. 1-to-1 configurations can also range from different classrooms sharing laptops made available during the school day via mobile carts to students being allowed to keep their laptops 24 hours a day, 7 days per week for use in school and at home.44

However, 1-to-1 is not about technology. The technology is simply a tool. 1-to-1, first and foremost, is about better learning. 1-to-1 access allows students to be active and engaged in the process of learning, makes education personal and relevant, and most importantly, encourages students to want to learn. Students who want to learn, and who know how to learn, become the “big picture” deep thinkers that will one day “reap societyʼs richest rewards and share its greatest joys.”


1-to-1 computing is not a technology initiative—itʼs a pedagogical initiative. It facilitates the transformation of teaching practices in a way that really supports the needs of young people. That is essential.” —David Thornburg


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A. ! 1-to-1 increases student learning and !achievement

The idea of providing students with 1-to-1 access to a computer is not new. 1-to-1 initiatives have been tried in various forms for over 20 years, beginning with Appleʼs ACOT (Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow) program in 1985 and the State of Indianaʼs Buddy Project in 1988.45 The impetus for todayʼs school and district-wide 1-to-1 initiatives can probably be traced back to the fall of 1996, when Microsoft and Toshiba launched the Anytime Anywhere Learning Program at 29 pilot schools across the United States.46 The AAL program was designed to demonstrate that providing every student with access to a laptop would produce substantial educational benefits.47

It did—and from its modest beginning in the mid-1980ʼs, the 1-to-1 movement has expanded to schools and school districts across the country. There are now, for example, over 800 AAL schools alone and at last estimate about 25% of the countryʼs 2,500 largest school districts have instituted, or are in the process of instituting, a 1-to-1 initiative in some or all of its schools.48 Moreover, these initiatives have been the subject of extensive research and study so there is now a significant body of research on the educational benefits of 1-to-1 computing. While this data continues to emerge as 1-to-1 initiatives continue to grow and expand, virtually all of the research so far supports the same conclusion—that 1to-1 computing represents the most significant leap forward in education in the last quarter century.

But what exactly does this data show? 1-to-1 outcomes can be divided into two categories: immediate benefits and long term educational results. Some of the well-documented immediate benefits of 1-to-1 computing are: !

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Greater student motivation49

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Greater student engagement50

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Students collaborating more with each other and their teachers51

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Students spending more time on homework52

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Instruction that is student-focused53

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Instruction that is multi-sensory (for different learning styles)54

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Instruction that is multi-level (for different student abilities)55

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Instruction that is individualized56

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Improved attendance57

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A decrease in disciplinary problems58

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More motivated teachers59

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Improved teacher recruitment and retention60

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Teachers making immediate and individualized learning assessments as opposed to relying on periodic tests61


Each of the items listed above, and many more which are harder to quantify such as greater student confidence and self-esteem, all lead to the ultimate objective—improved student achievement. But 1-to-1 computing is not a quick fix. Meaningful and long lasting pedagogical change must be sustainable and gradual. It is a process. In the case of the integration of technology into the classroom, teachers must grow familiar and comfortable with the use of technology first. The technology must next be integrated into the curriculum. As this occurs, teachers will begin to use technology in increasingly innovative ways.

Then the magic happens.

When used effectively, technology promotes constructivist, student-driven learning practices that lead to better, deeper, more meaningful learning. As students learn better, they perform better. Then grades improve. Test scores increase. Graduation rates go up. Everything changes.

In time.

The issue is time. But when given time, some of the well-documented long term educational results of 1to-1 computing are: •

Improved test scores62

Improved grade point averages63

Writing of improved quality and quantity64

Improved literacy65

Improved communication skills66

Improved problem solving and critical thinking skills67

These are all skills necessary for 21st century success. But as much if not more than any other outcome, the primary benefit of 1-to-1 computing is that students have learned how to educate themselves. The spark of curiosity, creativity and inquisitiveness that has been too often deadened by lecture-based classrooms is now ignited and sustained and students are better prepared to take on the unique challenges of the knowledge-based economy of the new century.

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1-to-1 success stories A School—MacArthur High School, Irving ,Texas

MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas, implemented a 1-to-1 initiative in 2000 to “increase student achievement and transform how students learn.” Approximately 2,400 students from diverse racial and socio-economic backgrounds attend MacArthur, 40% of whom live at or below the federal poverty line. In the five years since implementing 1-to-1 computing, MacArthurʼs graduation rate has increased to 92%, standardized test scores show 50 to 100 point gains and MacArthur now ranks as one of the best schools in the nation.


The new classroom approach at MacArthur is student-engaged and student-centered. According to Principal Tracie Fraley, “Iʼm seeing teachers change their instructional style. They are moving away from being the sage on the stage to facilitated learning. Students have ownership of their learning and their products, as opposed to just regurgitating what the teacher says. The level of understanding and higherorder thinking weʼre seeing our students produce is astounding.”

Brandy Wall, instructional technology specialist and history teacher, also noted that shortly after implementation even quiet students were contributing and participating during class. “Some of the more introverted students have become valuable to others for their unmatched technical expertise,” says Wall.

One student summed up the impact of 1-to-1 in this way—she “dreaded” not having a laptop when she goes to college. “Iʼve had one for four years,” she said, “and I canʼt imagine living without it.”68

Schools Within a District—Indianapolis Public Schools

The Indianapolis Public School system (IPS) has the largest student population in the State of Indiana with over 40,000 students, nearly 80% of whom qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. However, for the past several years, IPS has been home to the stateʼs most ambitious education initiative. In the fall of 2000, a Technology Innovation Challenge Grant from the U.S. Department of Education allowed IPS to create its “Tech Know Build” program, which was aimed specifically at developing a technology-based, student-centered constructivist curriculum. In its initial phase, every 6th grade student in three targeted middle schools received a laptop computer. Since that time, every 6th, 7th and 8th grade student in the three targeted schools, over 2,200 students in all, have received laptops.

From the outset, IPS also recognized that the full value of a 1-to-1 initiative would not be realized unless students were able to take their laptops home. As a consequence, IPS entered into a contract with a local Internet Service Provider to install high-speed cable modems in the homes of every student in the three middle schools. Now homes that may lack telephone service have 24/7 access to the Internet.

The result?

According to Karen Dailey, the principal of one of three middle schools participating in the initiative, daily access to a laptop provides “a wonderful opportunity for children to explore, and the real-time access to information is much more fascinating to them than what they can find in a textbook. Take something as simple as the fish of the sea. Through the...laptops the children can view fish in a virtual ʻaquarium,ʼ and see movement and color, instead of looking at a static picture in a book. Thatʼs when the ʻoohs and ahsʼ start coming, and they want to find out more.”

This assessment is echoed by Jeff McMahon, IPS Academic Technology Officer, who states: “The laptops are a tool that no student should be without. Weʼre an urban district, and our kids need tools that are upto-date and cutting-edge in order to be successful in school. Some of our kids already come here behind the game…Itʼs not fair to give them outdated resources, too. We felt the...laptops were a good solution to our problem.”


McMahon also indicated that 1-to-1 students are far exceeding academic expectations. “We have a list that we call the ʻattributes of an IPS graduate,ʼ” McMahon states, “which is essentially the things we should see in a high school graduate. A lot of what we say our graduates should have—communication and presentation skills, higher-order problem-solving, and so forth—weʼre seeing in the sixth and seventh graders whoʼve been using the [laptops]. Theyʼre doing things we never thought of.”

Parents are equally excited about the opportunities afforded by 1-to-1 access. IPS has created a web portal which allows students to log on and find out what assignments are due, submit homework in an electronic drop-box, visit chat-rooms to discuss books or other topics of interest, find out test scores and more. When students bring their laptops home, parents can view grades, exchange email with teachers and stay abreast of their childrenʼs progress in the classroom.

IPS readily acknowledges that the 1-to-1 initiative was not without its challenges. Still, parents, students and teachers almost universally agree that the effort was well worth the result.

“This implementation was the most demanding thing Iʼve ever done,” McMahon admits. “But we all kept in mind that todayʼs students are digital natives. Theyʼre wired differently than kids used to be, and we had to change our way of thinking to meet their needs. Now, looking at what the students are doing with the laptops, and what weʼve been able to do for them… well, thatʼs what keeps us all going.”

“People say, ʻItʼs a nice idea, but itʼs so expensive,ʼ” says Crenshaw. “My answer to that is, ʻso is ignorance!ʼWeʼre in a state where there simply isnʼt any money. But you canʼt just give kids sporadic computer access, and have substantial outcomes…It must be done in a uniform, equitable fashion. We feel our [laptop] program has implications for our whole state. And our hope is that people will look at the initiative, realize its value, and think, ʻYeah … we really should do that.ʼ”69

Henrico County, Virginia, is the home to the largest district wide 1-to-1 initiative in the country. Henrico County has a diverse ethnic and socioeconomic population, drawn from high-density urban areas, rural regions and high-tech suburban communities. Over 45% of the district is minority and approximately 25% of the 43,000 enrolled students are eligible for free or reduced price lunch.

In 2001, Henrico County Public Schools (HCPS) initiated its Technology and Learning Initiative. By design, the rollout was staggered. In the fall of 2001, wireless laptops were distributed to HCPS high school teachers. Approximately one month later, laptops were distributed to every HCPS high school student. Unfortunately, many high school teachers had never experienced the changes in classroom management that accompanied ubiquitous access to technology and were ill-prepared for such a change. Also, the network was not prepared to handle the simultaneous use of over 10,000 laptops. The result was frequent outages and network down time.

However, HCPS learned from this experience. Middle school teachers were issued their laptops in January of 2002, a full year before middle school students received their laptops. Network capacity was significantly increased. In the fall of 2002, middle school students began training on the laptops using mobile carts and received a full semester of training before being given their laptops in the spring of 2003.


In sum, more than 28,000 teachers and students in grades 6 through 12 have been given laptops for use 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The district also negotiated a low monthly rate for home Internet access: under $10 per month if paid for a full year. Parents are responsible for a $50 annual insurance fee, which is reduced for students from lower income families.

During the entire process, HCPS officials communicated with parents and community members about the initiative. HCPS launched a “key communicator network” which consisted of approximately 400 parents, PTA members and business leaders. HCPS also created a Technology Connection newsletter which goes out to the parents of all students who received a laptop and began a newsletter for the teachers as well. These newsletters were then posted on the districtʼs website so that the school community could remain abreast of the progress of the initiative.

The results from the initiative are impressive. Studentsʼ standardized achievement test scores have risen in all 11 core curriculum areas. School accreditation has increased to 100 percent. In 2003, there was a 13-point (district-wide average) increase in SAT scores. The dropout rate is the lowest in HCPS history and the attendance rate is highest in HCPS history. More HCPS graduates are going to college than ever before.

Further, the district conducts parent surveys every two years. On the latest surveys, 94% of more than 20,000 respondents reported being satisfied with the quality of education at their childʼs school. This compares favorably to parent satisfaction surveys conducted by the Gallup Poll which indicate only 71% of parents nationally are satisfied with their childrenʼs education. The business community in Henrico County has also given the program rave reviews and teacher recruitment and retention is at an all-time high.70

A State—The State of Maine

In 2002, the State of Maine embarked on the most ambitious education technology initiative in the country —the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI). Faced with a one time budget surplus of approximately 14 million dollars, former Governor Angus King announced a plan to equip all of the stateʼs middle school students and teachers with a personal learning device. This idea originated from a conversation Governor King had with Seymour Papert, one of the early pioneers of Artificial Intelligence, on how totransform education. During their conversation, Papert informed King that a major transformation in education would happen only when students and teachers worked with technology on a 1-to-1 basis and that any other ratio would not produce the transformation everyone sought.

Initial public reaction to Governor Kingʼs proposed use of the budget surplus was not enthusiastic. Constituents complained that the money would be better spent elsewhere. Parents voiced concern that the laptops would be lost or stolen. As a result, Governor King convened a joint task force to conduct an in-depth study on the feasibility of a 1-to-1 initiative and to recommend the best course of action for Maine to follow.


In early 2001, the task force recommended that Maine pursue a plan to deploy learning devices to all of Maine's students and teachers in the 7th and 8th grade. The initiative launched in the spring of 2002 with laptops being distributed to nine pilot classrooms. During the first full year of implementation, over 17,000 laptops were distributed to all of the stateʼs seventh grade students. Since that time, every 7th and 8th grade student and teacher in Maine's 239 middle schools—about 37,000 people in all—received a laptop. Governor Kingʼs successor, Governor John Baldacci, has enthusiastically endorsed the MLTI and wants the program extended to the stateʼs high schools.

The results of the initiative are “outstanding and real.” In just three months, one pilot middle school saw absenteeism and tardiness decrease by 72%, disciplinary referrals decline 81%, and honor roll participation increase by 57%. Piscataquis Community Middle School, the earliest and most intensive of the advance deployments, recorded improvements in attendance, a 50% decline in disciplinary lettersand a 7-point improvement on statewide assessments—even more for those students in the bottom third academically.

Nearly 80% of the teachers confirmed that the laptops helped them to individualize the curriculum to fit their studentsʼ needs. 90% reported that they “can explore topics to greater depth” with their students when using the laptops.

“Since Iʼve been in office, I think the research has begun to quantify the laptopsʼ very positive impact,” states Governor Baldacci. “Once Governor King and our legislature opened up to our students the knowledge thatʼs available through the Internet and the wireless...laptops, I felt it was our responsibility to maintain that openness and accessibility. We just canʼt turn back now.” 71

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1-to-1 closes the digital divide

A laptop for every student sounds like an idea that would appeal primarily to wealthy districts serving economically advantaged students. However, over half of the 1-to-1 initiatives in the country were implemented in economically disadvantaged communities, in part to show the educational benefits of allowing all students equal access to technology.72 1-to-1 levels the educational playing field. It allows students from every socio-economic background to access to world-class educational content and virtually unlimited academic resources. Suddenly, the limitations imposed by inferior, dilapidated buildings and budget restrictions are minimized because students can transcend the walls of their school building, wherever that may be, and seek out and explore the universe of knowledge available via the world wide web. They can take virtual tours of the Louvre, ancient Egypt or a human cell. A world that at one point seemed inaccessible is now a mouse-click away.

However, unequal access to technology is just one aspect of the digital divide. The digital divide also refers to the ability of individuals to use technology efficiently, effectively and productively.73 The International Information and Communication Technologies Literacy Panel states: “[O]ur conception of the digital divide must be expanded: A continued focus on building infrastructure should be complimented by an effort to identify those without an ability to manage, integrate, evaluate, and create information in a traditional sense and to provide them with the necessary tools to acquire these skills.”74 Without these skills, “all the hardware and access in the world will not…decrease the existing gaps currently defined by the digital divide.”75


1-to-1 computing addresses this need. Having daily access to a computer in school (and ideally at home) obviously addresses the need for access. However, using the computer on a daily basis as a part of a rigorous curriculum also increases technical efficiency and ability as well. This skill, along with the other “21st century skills” that ubiquitous access to technology affords, positions students from every background to compete and succeed in the technology-driven economy of the 21st century.

1-to-1 computing closes the digital divide in another unexpected manner. 1-to-1 computing not only advances the technology skills of the individual student, but in the case where students are allowed to take their computers home, parents and siblings often increase their technical proficiency along with the student because they learn to use the technology as well.76 As a result, a 1-to-1 initiative can have the added benefit of helping an entire family, and potentially an entire community, move into the Digital Age.77

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1-to-1 classrooms help students develop the skills necessary for 21st century success

A recent report by the American Diploma Project states: “The [high school] diploma has lost its value because what it takes to earn one is disconnected from what it takes for graduates to compete successfully beyond high school—either in the classroom or in the workplace. Re-establishing the value ] of the diploma will require the creation of an inextricable link between high school exit expectations and the intellectual challenges that graduates invariably will face in credit bearing college courses or in highperformance, high-growth jobs.” 78

Employers echo this sentiment. In a recent survey, employers from across the country were asked to identify the skills they considered “very important” to success in the workplace. The skills rated as “very important” were: (1) professionalism/work ethic; (2) oral and written communications; (3) teamwork/ collaboration; (4) critical thinking/problem solving; (5) reading comprehension; (6) English language (spoken); (7) ethics and social responsibility and (8) information technology application.79 The respondents were then asked to rate the skill level of new entrants by grade level. New entrantsʼ skill level could be rated as “excellent,” “adequate” or “deficient.”80

Four year college graduates were deemed “deficient” in written communications, writing in English and leadership.81 Two year college graduates and technical school graduates were deemed “deficient” in written communications, writing in English, lifelong learning, self direction, creativity, innovation, critical thinking, problem solving, oral communications, ethics and social responsibility.82 However, high school graduates were deemed “deficient” in every one of the “very important” skills necessary for workforce success.83

In a technology rich 1-to-1 setting, students are encouraged to engage in self-directed, independent, constructivist learning. As independent learners, students have to take on greater responsibility, accountability and control over their learning. In other words, students learn how to learn. Students have to monitor much of their own progress, identify the tools and resources they need to use, and know when to seek help.84 Because there is much more project-based teaching, students also collaborate more, working with each other to accomplish a common goal.85 More project-based learning means more student presentations, so students have a greater opportunity to master written and oral communication skills.86


While reading, writing, and arithmetic will always form the foundation of any solid education, the ability to learn independently, think critically, collaborate and communicate effectively and use digital media efficiently and fluently are all on the verge of being elevated to the same level of importance. These skills —critical 21st century life skills—are all documented results of 1-to-1 computing.87

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1-to-1 connects a community

What should be the role and function of a school? Of course, the principal function is to educate our children. But a school should also connect a community and serve as a lighting rod for community action and involvement.

1-to-1 initiatives are not just school initiatives, they become community initiatives. Because 1-to-1 represents such a radical departure from traditional teaching, obtaining the input and support of the community is critically important. Henrico County created “leadership teams” which included students, teachers and parents, for example, to discuss the benefits and value of the 1-to-1 initiative prior to its implementation. These teams both engaged and empowered the community, which was an important element in the long term success of the initiative.

Support and enthusiasm of this sort can galvanize a community. Schools that implement a 1-to-1 initiative often see an enrollment surge because parents are now excited about the educational opportunities afforded by 1-to-1 access to technology.88 1-to-1 schools also report greater parental involvement.89 They enjoy higher attendance at PTA meetings; increased communication via e-mail, phone, or face-to-face meetings; increased parent participation in tutoring programs and more volunteering at the schools.90

1-to-1 also engages a community in another unexpected manner. As students become more digitally literate, parents and siblings often become more digitally literate as well. Many 1-to-1 initiatives also include community resource centers where community members can improve their digital skills. In the State of Indiana, for example, 1-to-1 students act as mentors to parents, siblings, and senior citizens in the community.

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1-to-1 fuels individualized learning

Each student responds uniquely to specific classroom environments and instructional practices based on what they already know and how they are wired to learn. Each studentʼs cognitive approach is as individual as his or her physical make up. Researchers have attempted to categorize the way students learn through a number of diverse learning theories such as “brain dominance,” “conceptual tempo,” “mind styles,” and “multiple intelligences.” Regardless of the theory, educators have learned that it is vital to individualize instruction so that each individual student has the opportunity to learn the best way he or she can.

Unfortunately, individualized instruction is virtually impossible in traditional, lecture-based classrooms. Think about it. When a teacher is lecturing to a room full of students, when or how is individualized instruction possible? When can the teacher assess how each student is processing the subject matter? What about the students that are shy or who simply do not perform well in so public a setting?


Individualized, differentiated education sounds great, but it is simply not possible given our current classroom structure.

However, when students have full access to a laptop, they have the keys to their own learning in their hands. No matter what the topic or standard, students who have expanded access to the Internet and technologyʼs tools have more opportunities to discover information presented in a way that resonates with them. Therefore, the goal of engaged and individualized instruction seems to be promoted, almost inadvertently, in by the use of a computer. Collaborative learning, inquiry-based learning, and active, engaged learning are all consistently mentioned as results of 1-to-1 learning initiatives.91

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1-to-1 leverages existing habits and lifestyles

An enormous disparity exists between the world inside our classrooms and the world outside of our classrooms. Todayʼs students are accustomed to using technology in their day-to-day lives. According to a 2005 Pew study, 87% of teenagers use the Internet. 51% go online daily. 84% report owning at least one personal media device. 44% say they have two or more devices. 45% of all teens have cell phones and 33% are text messaging. 75% of online teens—about two-thirds of all teenagers—use instant messaging. Junior High School seems to be point at which most teens who were not previously online do so. While about 60% of the 6th graders report using the Internet, by 7th grade this number jumps to 82%. From there, the percent of users for each grade climbs steadily and reaches 94% by the twelfth grade.92

1-to-1 computing takes advantage of how students already interact with technology and builds on these habits. Marc Prensky, author of “Digital Game-Based Learning” observes: “It is now clear that as a result of the sheer volume of their interaction with [technology], todayʼs students think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors.” Prensky refers to todayʼs students as “digital natives” and asserts that “Our students have changed radically. Todayʼs students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach.”93 This disconnect may be a large part of the reason why in a recent survey of 12th graders, only 28% thought schoolwork was meaningful and only 39% thought that what they learned in school would be important later in life.

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1-to-1 fuels economic development

Economic development was the driving force behind Maineʼs 1-to-1 initiative. Former Governor King explained: “As I talk to businesses, the biggest thing that they look for is qualified people....Weʼve got a lot of small towns, a lot of people whose parents didnʼt go to college, and a relatively low number—about 20 percent—of our people have college degrees. My job as a leader is to try to look out into the future, see whatʼs necessary, and then equip my people with whatever it is. This proposal is for every school, every kid, rich, poor, north, south, east, west, rural, and urban. At a stroke, it would begin the elimination of the division between the technological haves and the have-nots.”94

1-to-1 computing engages students in the everyday use of high-tech tools for problem solving, communication, collaboration, and data analysis—all critical skills in a knowledge-based economy. Students with 1-to-1 computer access show significantly higher gains in technology literacy than students who do not. As a result, these students have much more confidence in their ability and are better prepared for the workforce or higher education.95


Interestingly, a 30-year study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education concluded that a key predictor of whether a student will earn a bachelorʼs degree is not test scores, but their participation and completion of a strong academic curriculum in high school.96 Thus, the increase in rigor, depth, and authenticity through 1-to-1 computing can have a long term impact on a studentʼs academic or economic future.97

Finally, according to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, employment opportunities for science and engineering jobs are expected to increase by 2.2 million jobs over the next decade. Approximately 86% of this projected increase will be in computer related occupations including:

Computer software engineers – increase from 697,000 to 1.4 million jobs

Computer systems analysts – increase from 431,000 to 689,000 jobs

Computer hardware engineering – above-average employment gains, growing by 25 percent

Medical science occupations – addition of 10,000 new jobs, or an increaseof 27 percent. 98

From just a purely vocational standpoint, 1-to-1 computing prepares our students for the high-demand jobs of the future.

! !

I.! !

1-to-1 computing has won the enthusiastic endorsement of teachers and administrators from across the country

Perhaps the strongest endorsement of 1-to-1 education comes from the educators and administrators who have personally witnessed how 1-to-1 computing has changed their schools. The following is just a small sample of 1-to-1 endorsements:

“In just a short period of time, the changes we’ve seen in teaching methodology since we began our...laptop initiative have been just phenomenal. We’ve moved from the traditional lecture model, where students take notes and regurgitate information, to a real constructivist type of learning model, where the kids collaborate; they problem-solve; they do research; and they actually construct knowledge. With all of the wonderful information available to them now, learning has taken on a whole new complexion.” Dr. Vicki Wilson Assistant Superintendent Henrico County Public Schools


“The most significant result from implementing a one-to-one initiative are the students who come back after they graduated from our schools and said that they more prepared for colleges and the work force. We are also closing the digital divide, which is a huge factor, and everyone is on the same playing field. The one-to-one laptop initiative gives every family an opportunity to have access to technology.” Lloyd Brown Director of Technology and Information Henrico County Public Schools “Students love the program and are motivated to learn. We have noticed a decline in discipline issues while attendance has improved. The students are also on task and are more technically literate. Even the teachers are learning better and are better trained.” Jim Bembenek Consultant for Freedom To Learn Berrien County Intermediate School District “Moving to a computer-based curriculum has completely changed teaching and learning. We’re moving away from the ‘sage on the stage’ model, where the teacher lectures and the kids take notes, towards a very collaborative model. Learning is now much more of a team effort, with kids teaching teachers, teachers teaching kids, and the kids teaching each other. By being able to work together in this way, the students are excited and engaged as never before.” Janet Binns Director of Public Relations Henrico Public Schools “The most significant advantage is that it greatly leverages the playing field by ensuring that every student has access to technology. There has been a notable increase in student confidence where many students have become more vocal and have "come out of their shell" in terms of classroom participation. Additionally, there has been an increase in the amount of student collaboration and evidence of higher order thinking. Students tend to put more thought into their work and are more engaged in classroom learning.”

!

Tina Barrios Supervisor of Instructional Technology Manatee County, Florida


J.! !

1-to-1 brings our students, our communities and our world ! closer together “I understand what you’re saying about the benefits of technology. I’m not at all adverse to the idea. And I believe in the importance of constructivist, hands-on education. But I am concerned about a disconnection with real people and real experiences. I am concerned about each individual’s impact and contribution to the world. Kids these days already spend so much time on computers. What I want to know is this—how will computers in the classroom help kids connect with each other or care about their community? How will computers help make these kids better, more compassionate citizens?” Jerome Summers District 65 School Board Member Evanston, Illinois

Probably the biggest misconception about computers is that they split us up, divide us and disconnect us from the world. But in the end, what is a computer? What does it do? For most of us, the primary purpose of a computer is not data processing. For most of us—and for most of our students—the computer is used primarily for email, instant messaging, surfing the web and to transmit or receive information.99 In other words, for most of us, the computer is used primarily as a means to communicate. It is not just a PC (personal computer) but an IC (interpersonal communicator).100 ICʼs enable us to communicate with more people, in different ways, at more times and in more places than all the other forms of communication invented in the course of human history.

This is the ultimate power of technology. It takes a world of billions of people, separated by language, culture and distance, and brings us closer together. It allows us—and our students—to transcend beyond our immediate physical space and connect to the thoughts, ideas, views and passions of our people from across the globe. When we understand how others feel, what they think, and why, issues of “us” and “them” become blurred. We may agree. We may agree to disagree. But suddenly the phrase “the human race” takes on a whole new meaning.

Could the horrors of the holocaust have occurred in the age of information technology? What about the idea that one race is superior to another race? That “manifest destiny” was Godʼs will? That Native Americans are “savage”? That women are not the equal of men?

Ignorance thrives in a vacuum. Technology connects us to the world.

Every great event in the course of human history begins with a spark. This spark, in turn, becomes an idea. An idea becomes a cause. And a cause can become a movement that changes the world.

A great education does more than create better students.

A truly great education creates better people and fuels the spark that becomes the ideas that, in time, might one day change the world.


Conclusion No one is satisfied with the current state of education. Parents are frustrated and fear for the futures of their children. School boards, principals and teachers are under enormous pressure and many choose to simply leave the profession rather than continue to fight what appears to be an uphill battle with no end in sight. And our students? Millions are simply “checking out” for some or all of their education.

We have a choice to make. We can continue to embrace a failing system or we can choose to throw off the shackles of time and tradition and embrace something new, something innovative—something that truly has the potential to uplift and empower all of this nationʼs nearly 50 million students.

Everything has its season. In the same way the Model T gave way to the fuel-injected automobile and the phonograph has given way to the iPod, change is inevitable. John Dewey, whose views on “progressive education” provided the theoretical foundation for constructivism, once wrote: “If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.”

In order to be effective, education in the 21st century must be active, engaged and personal. It must involve ubiquitous access to technology. It must encourage students to think critically, to seek out and analyze information for themselves and to assume greater responsibility, accountability and control over the process of learning.

Our world has changed.

There is no going back.

In order to remain relevant, the way we teach must change as well.


Appendix A

The constructivist classroom vs the traditional classroom


The traditional classroom vs. the constructivist classroom


ENDNOTES 1 According to the U.S. Department of Education expenditures at the local, state and Federal level for elementary and secondary education in 2004 exceeded 500 billion dollars. See, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology, “Toward A New Golden Age in American Education: How the Internet, the Law and Todayʼs Students Are Revolutionizing Expectations” (2004). Available at www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/os/technology/plan/2004/index.html 2 Ibid. 3 USA Today, “Big City Schools Struggle With Graduation Rates” (2006). Available at http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2006-06-20-dropout-rates_x.htm

4 See, Attachment A. 5 Marc Prensky, “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants” (2001). Available at www.twitchspeed.com/site/Prensky%20-0Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20%20Part1.htm

6 The Metiri Group, “1-to-1 Learning” (2006). Available at http://images.apple.com/education/k12/onetoone/pdf/1_to_1_white_paper.pdf.

7 U.S. Department of Education, “Toward A New Golden Age in American Education: How the Internet, the Law and Todayʼs Students Are Revolutionizing Expectations.

8 Microsoft Corporation, “School of the Future” citing O'Banion, Dr. Terry, “A Learning College for the 21st Century” (1997). Available at: http://www.microsoft.com/Education/SchoolofFutureVision.mspx


9 Ibid.

10 Ibid.

11 U.S. Department of Education, “Toward A New Golden Age in American Education: How the Internet, the Law and Todayʼs Students Are Revolutionizing Expectations”

12 William Huitt, “Constructivism” (1983).

13 Michael J. Mahoney, What is Constructivism and Why is it Growing?” (2004). Available at http://www.constructivism123.com/What_Is/What_is_constructivism.htm

14 Ibid.

15 Susan Hanley, “On Constructivism” (1994). Available at http://www.towson.edu/csme/mctp/Essays/Constructivism.txt

16 Ibid.

17 Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, “Connecting Student Learning and Technology” Available at http://www.sedl.org/pubs/tec26/nonflash/intro.html


18 See, “John Dewey” at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dewey

19 David Elkind, “Montessori and Constructivism” (2003). Available at http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa4097/is_200301/ai_n9199626/

20 See, Funderstanding, “Piaget” available at http://www.funderstanding.com/piaget.cfm

21 David Hollyman, “Jerome Brunner, A Web Overview.” Available at http://au.geocities.com/vanunoo/Humannature/bruner.html

22 Martin and Jacqueline Brooks, “The Courage to be a Constructivist” (1999). Available at: http://www.simpsonca.edu/faculty/tforbes/courses/ed5000/journal_articles_folder/courage_

23 See, “Stacy Childress, Richard Elmore and Allan Grossman, “How to Manage Urban School Districts” (Harvard Business Review, November, 2006)

24 Ibid.

25 Ibid.

26 Ibid.


27 Martin and Jacqueline Brooks, “The Courage to be a Constructivist.”

28 Ibid.

29 NCREL, The Metiri Group, “enGauge 21st Century Skills, Literacy in the Digital Age” (2003). Available at: http://www.bcps.org/offices/lis/staging/activesci/images/litskillsbrochure.pdf

30 John Bransford, Ann Brown and Rodney Cocking, “How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience and School” (1999).

31 Ibid.

32 Allan Collins, “The Role of Computer Technology in Restructuring Schools” (Phi Delta Kappan, 1991).

33 “Why do we need a 21st Century Learning Environment?” Available at http://www.eschoolnews.com/resources/reports/21stcenturylearning/why_do_we.cfm

34 eSchool News Online, available at http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/PFshowstory.cfm?ArticleID=6225

35 NCREL, The Metiri Group, “enGauge 21st Century Skills, Literacy in the Digital Age” (2003)

36 Ibid.


37 Rodney S. Earle, “The Integration of Instructional Technology into Public Education: Promises and Challenges” (1999). Available at http://BooksToRead.com/etp

38 American School Board Journal: September 2003 Special Report. Available at http://www.asbj.com/specialreports/0903SpecialReports/S5.html

39 Deborah L. Lowther and Steven M. Ross, “When Each One Has One: The Influences on Teaching Strategies and Student Achievement of Using Laptops in the Classroom” (2003). Available at http://crep.memphis.edu/web/research/pub/Laptop_AERA_2003.pdf

40 U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology, “Educational Technology Fact Sheet” (2004). Available at http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/os/technology/facts.html

41 Dan Pink, “A Whole New Mind—Why Right Brainers Will Rule The Future” (2006)

42 Rodney S. Earle, “The Integration of Instructional Technology into Public Education: Promises and Challenges” (1999)

43 The Metiri Group, “1-to-1 Learning”

44 Ibid.


45 Saul Rockman, “Learning from Laptops” (2003). Available at: http://www.ciconline.org/NR/ rdonlyreserirthgksef37ryzxv7rbsa62orzgch5leussajt2sffb7hywdozogmru6uoo5wbhnheaaec3malkw6tlfbctu zykre/Laptops.pdf

46 Linda Hadeed, “Effects of using the Anytime Anywhere Learning Model (laptop program) for the enhancement of problem solving and critical thinking skills” (2000)

47 Ibid.

48 BLE, Super Tech News, (May, 2005). Available at: http://blegroup.com/supertechnews/apr06_schools.html#theme

49 Center for Digital Learning, One-to-One Laptop Initiatives, Providing Tools for 21st Century Learners (2004); Center for Digital Education, “Digital Designs” (2006); James C. Gulek and Hakan Demirtas, “Learning with Technology: The Impact of Laptop Use on Student Achievement” (Journal of Technology, 2005)

50 The Metiri Group, “1-to-1 Learning”

51 The 1-to-1 Stories Project, available at http://www.1to1stories.org/; A Study of One-to-One Computer Use in Mathematics and Science Instruction at the Secondary Level in Henrico County Public Schools; Center for Digital Learning, One-to-One Laptop Initiatives, Providing Tools for 21st Century Learners; James C. Gulek and Hakan Demirtas, “Learning with Technology: The Impact of Laptop Use on Student Achievement” (Journal of Technology, 2005)

52 See, http://www.apple.com/education/profiles/maine2006/index5.html; James C. Gulekand Hakan Demirtas, “Learning with Technology: The Impact of Laptop Use on Student Achievement” (Journal of Technology, 2005)


53 Lisa Dubernard, “How does a 21st century learning environment align to your district's goals?” (2006). Available at: http://www.eschoolnews.com/resources/reports/21stcenturylearning/how_does_a.cfm

54 Ibid.

55 Ibid.

56 The Metiri Group, “1-to-1 Learning”; Center for Digital Education, “DigitalDesigns” (2006); Saul Rockman, “Learning from Laptops (2003)

57 See, http://www.apple.com/education/profiles/maine2006/index5.html

58 The Metiri Group, “1-to-1 Learning” 59 Ibid.

60 T.H.E. Journal, “Developing Highly Qualified Teachers” (2005). Available at http://thejournal.com/articles/17329/ 1:1 Computing, A Guidebook to Help You Make the Right Decisions. Available at: download.microsoft.com/download/8/d/c/8dc3ebfe-6849-4534-a4b7-846a8c327874/ HP1to1Guide.pdf


61 The Metiri Group, “1-to-1 Learning”; Saul Rockman, “Learning from Laptops (2003); T.H.E. Journal, “Closing the Achievement Gap” (2005) Available at http://www.thejournal.com/articles/17326/

62 See, James C. Gulek and Hakan Demirtas, “Learning with Technology: The Impact of Laptop Use on Student Achievement” (Journal of Technology, 2005). Available at http://www.jtla.org; The Metiri Group, “1-to-1 Learning;” Center for Digital Learning, One-to-One Laptop Initiatives, Providing Tools for 21st Century Learners (2004). Available at http://www.centerdigitaled.com; USA Today, “High School Teachers: Handhelds, Laptops Improved Grades” (2004). Available at: http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2004-06-16-laptops-education_x.htm

63 Ibid. 64 See, Rockman, et. al., “A More Complex Picture: Laptop Use and Impact in the Context of Changing Home and School Access” (2003); Available at http://www.apple.com/education/profiles/maine2006/index5.html; Center for Digital Education, “Digital Designs” (2006). Available at http://www.centerdigitaled.com/story.php?id=100512

65 The Metiri Group, “1-to-1 Learning”

66 The Metiri Group, “1-to-1 Learning”;


A Study of One-to-One Computer Use in Mathematics and Science Instruction at the Secondary Level in Henrico County Public Schools. Available at http://ubiqcomputing.org/FinalReport.pdf;

James C. Gulek and Hakan Demirtas, “Learning with Technology: The Impact of Laptop Use on Student Achievement” (Journal of Technology, 2005)

67 The Metiri Group, “1-to-1 Learning”

68 To read more about MacArthurʼs 1-to-1 initiative go to: http://www.intel.com/business/casestudies/macarthur_hs.pdf

69 To read more about the City of Indianapolis 1-to-1 initiative go to: http://www.apple.com/education/profiles/indianapolis_1to1/

70 To read more about the Henrico County 1-to-1 initiative go to: http://www.apple.com/education/k12/onetoone/profiles/henrico.html

71 To read more about the Maine Learning Technology Initiative go to: http://www.state.me.us/mlte/ or http://www.apple.com/education/profiles/maine2006/index6.html

72 The Metiri Group, “1-to-1 Learning”

73 NCREL, The Metiri Group, “enGauge 21st Century Skills, Literacy in the Digital Age” (2003)

74 Ibid.


75 Ibid.

76 Saul Rockman, “Learning from Laptops (2003)

77 Ibid.

78 Ibid.

79 The Conference Board, Corporate Offices for Working Families, The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, The Society for Human Resource Management, “Are They Really Ready To Work? Employersʼ Perspectives on the Basic Knowledge and Applied. Skills of New Entrants to the 21st Century U.S. Workforce” (2006) Available at http://www.conference-board.org/pdf_free/BED-06-Workforce.pdf

80 Ibid.

81 Ibid.

82 Ibid.

83 Ibid.

84 Saul Rockman, “Learning from Laptops (2003)


85 Ibid.

86 Ibid.

87 Center for Digital Learning, One-to-One Laptop Initiatives, Providing Tools for 21st Century Learners (2004)

88 Saul Rockman, “Learning from Laptops (2003)

89 Ibid.

90 Ibid.

91 Ibid.

92 1:1 Computing, A Guidebook to Help You Make the Right Decisions

93 See, “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants” (2001). Available at http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital %20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

94 The Metiri Group, “1-to-1 Learning”


95 Ibid.

96 Ibid.

97 Ibid.

98 Center for Digital Education, “K-12 One-to-One Computing Handbook” (2005)

99 What do teens do online? According to a Pew study, these are the percentages of teen Internet users who do the following online: (1) send or read email 89%; (2) go to websites about movies, TV shows, music groups or sports 84%; (3) play online games 81%; (4) go online to get news or information about current events 76%; (5) send or receive instant messages 75%; (6) go online to get information about a college,university, or other school they are thinking of attending 57%; (6) look for news or information about politics 55%; (7) buy things online, such as books, clothing or music 43%; (8) send or receive text messages using a cell phone 38%; (9) look for health, dieting, or physical fitness information 31%; (10) look for information about a job 30%; (11) look for religious or spiritual information online 26%; (12) look for information about a health topic thatʼs hard to talk about, like drug use, sexual health, or depression 22%. From Center for Digital Education, “K-12 One-to-One Computing Handbook” (2005).

100 Jim Lengel, “Theyʼre Not Computers” (2006) Available at www.powertolearn.com/articles/teaching_with_technology/index.shtm


Our world has changed. Our economy has changed. The way we access and disseminate information has changed. Everything has changed. Isn始t it long past time for our schools to change as well?

About the author: Michael E. Summers is a 1986 graduate of Northwestern University and a 1990 graduate of Northwestern University School of Law. Michael is an attorney, blogger, certified personal trainer, education technology and school reform advocate and the creator of E3, a website dedicated to school reform, health and fitness and community outreach.


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