By Paul McMahon on Nov 18, 2008 in 1:1 access in schools, Appropriate Hardware for Education, Education in Hong Kong, Electronic Whiteboards, Learning for a Flat World, Triathlon and tagged 1:1, community, laptops, LSA_Paul, PLN
Hong Kong , and probably the greater Asian region, seems to be in the grip of laptop programs at the moment. Surprisingly, this is not really spurred on by the emergence of the cheaper laptops on the market as the majority of schools are choosing the premium priced Macbooks as the laptop of choice. Can’t say that I am too surprised in this really as Apple still seem to be the only ones on the block with any idea that a 1:1 program involves more than just box dropping. The PC vendors so far do not get the concept of kids and laptops. Surprising seeing that it was Toshiba who lead the way on 1:1 back in Australia in the late 80s.
The thing that most surprises me is the lack of “noise” in the HK education community associated with these initiatives. I am trying to be fair to the schools and the administrators when I say that I really hope that the programs are premised on all of the right goals and ideals. Any laptop program needs to be seen as the catalyst for the school to move from schooling model “A” to schooling model “B”. Sure, the change is not, and should not be expected to be, immediate but it needs to be acknowledged that this is the reason for the initiative and that it is where the school is heading. I have known of schools who have introduced laptops hoping that the school will be Schooling model “A + laptops”. All too often, schooling model “A” was one that was content based and teacher directed and not really conducive to every student with a laptop all day every day. In many cases, this sort of program has resulted in a lot of frustration for teachers and students. In a number of celebrated cases, it has even lead to the school dropping the use of laptops in the school so that the school can return to doing schooling model “A” more effectively.
I know that many of the schools who are going 1:1 have a “walled garden” Learning Platform that allows for sharing between the schools in the Authority but not to the “outside world”. I am really hopeful that this has a lot of dialog on it from the schools to make up for the lack of blogging and general sharing of issues and ideas that is necessary for a program such as this. I know from my own experience, that the backward and forward discussion on a myriad of issues such as handling the kids who repeatedly put games on the machines, to insurance issues, to effective multimedia apps, to complaints from parents about teaching (or not teaching) typing, was fantastic and allowed for great, authentic exchange of ideas, documentation etc.
I for one, could not imagine having access to the tools to build a great Professional Learning Network around the area of Laptops in International schools in Aisa and not using them to share and reflect.