Are Laptops the Key to Our Educational Future?

In a time where financial structure often dictates the quality of education that is provided to children today, schools and parents are desperately seeking any tool that is financially feasible that can produce a positive or successful result. As schools continue to need to cut their staffing of teachers just to make budget, the margin for error in these investments are becoming smaller and smaller. As the remaining teachers face more children in their classrooms and fewer elective options, finding the right tools which are both effective teaching aides and attention grabbing is a must.

A Success Story

There have been some success stories that have sprung up from this quest. The Mooresville School District outside of Charlotte, NC has located a practice that is showing surprising results, despite facing the same budgetary limitations that school districts across America face. By providing a MacBook Air to each of its students from grades 4 through 12, the school district has been able to show a gain in test scores, attendance, and even graduation rates.

Use of the computers has forced a change in the age old practice of moving the class together in their progress at the same rate. Instead, students have been able to excel when possible and move forward at their own pace. With the teachers being able to connect both electronically and interpersonally, they have been able to focus their limited time on students who need help in specific areas. And by allowing the students to use now common features such as Google, chat rooms, and even Google Earth, the students are paired in groups that match their proficiency level.

At What Cost?

The investment is costly for the school system, which had to dismiss several teaching positions to afford the program. But the gains of the direction seem to far greater than the costs. The school is able to regularly test, chart, and follow their student’s performance, and hone in on area’s that improvement is needed. As a result, they have been able to target on areas of growth, and shoot for a more effective well-rounded education.

laptops in schools
Laptops replacing traditional resources in schools

So the question comes to mind, is a teacher needed at all? Is the education system moving to online schools offering laptops as a replacement to traditional schooling? More and more colleges these days offer an online degree option, which would imply that may be the direction schools are headed in.

This seems unlikely for various reasons, including the ever important social interaction that children learn each day by being in a physical school environment. And the importance of a teacher may actually be growing, as now they must be able to monitor and guide the child’s growth, while also working to ensure that they are actually gaining knowledge rather than just repeating information found on a search engine.

Greater education for the teacher in being able to correctly define an educational plan of action for a child, and to help those in need while encouraging those who are more advanced is going to be key. The tools used to encourage learning may be changing, and more beneficial paths may be found, but the influence of a teacher still remains a child’s best educations asset.