Parents and educators are always looking for new learning tools to help students reach their academic potential, and a recent study suggests that a basic laptop could be just such a tool.
In the last several years, schools across the country have experimented with providing each student with a laptop to facilitate learning. In 2016, Michigan State University studied the results from a number of these programs to determine if providing laptops influenced academic performance. The researchers, led by Michigan State University’s Assistant Professor Binbin Zheng, looked at nearly 100 studies of the use of laptops in the classroom, known as “one-to-one computing environments.”
Positive Results for Students
Their research found that when schools provided students with laptops for use in the classroom and at home, learning improved in a number of subjects, including science, math, and English. “Students received more feedback on their writing, edited and revised their papers more often, drew on a wider range of resources to write, and published or shared their work with others more often,” Zheng concludes in the study.
Many educators who have been using laptops in the classroom have already discovered the advantages of this versatile tool. Paul Mulder, Allendale Public Schools technology director, uses laptops in the Allendale school district to facilitate a flipped classroom model in which students watch teacher lectures at home on their computers and then discuss what they’ve learned with their teachers and peers during class time. “We see teachers able to personalize instruction more,” he told Michigan Radio. “We see them able to give students options to go deeper and improve their learning.”
Challenges for Schools
Of course, providing laptops to all students comes with a price tag that not every school can afford. Still, Zheng suggests that the benefits of providing laptops in the classroom outweigh the cost concerns. “I believe this technology, if implemented correctly, is worth the cost and effort because it lifts student achievement, enhances engagement and enthusiasm among students, improves teacher-student relationships and promotes 21st-century skills such as technological proficiency and problem solving,” says Zheng.
Benefits of Laptops as Learning Tools
When schools provide laptops for every student to create these one-to-one computing environments, they allow students and their teachers to take full advantage of the benefits of the Internet and technology.
Some of the benefits of using laptops in the classroom include:
- Fostering online collaboration with other students
- Providing curriculum support and additional information to students
- Promoting better organization: Laptops help students keep track of their assignments and utilize an online school calendar
- Allowing students to receive and view assignments online and submit their work via e-mail rather than being required to print them
- Improving the review process: Teachers may edit student papers and return them digitally to provide more detailed feedback
- Improving students’ computer skills
- Making learning more interesting for technology-savvy students
When choosing the best school for your child, consider the advantages laptops in the classroom may have for his or her learning style. One of the advantages of online schools is that all students use a computer and benefit from the same type of online collaboration with their teachers and their classmates that these studies refer to. Visit K12.com for more information on the benefits of online learning.