School officials at one Hoboken school thought it was a no-brainer to give every student a laptop. Now they've decided it was a terrible idea.
This article comes to me by way of my friend, GeekMom.com editor Andrea Schwalm.
I actually feel outraged reading this. The US wonders why it's behind, and when measures are put in place to provide tools to help kids keep up or get ahead, they aren't working. In this case, it looked like the school district didn't come up with a definitive plan before distributing the laptops out. Kids will be kids, but at the same time, I get the feeling that they haven't been taught that laptops are not toys, but equipment or instruments, and need to be cared for. If a teenager had a high-end smartphone, you KNOW there would be consequences for needing to fix or replace one of those!
My son's small private school gives all the kids laptops--MacBook Air laptops, in fact. They distribute them in September, and take them back in the summer. Every year, parents have to signed waivers and such that say that if something happens to the laptop, especially if the kid is given permission by the parent to bring the laptop home, then any repairs or replacement is on the parent. The same should happen with school districts as well. I guarantee that a lot more laptops would come back undamaged if parents knew that if something happened to them, they need to replace the machine. Many families can't afford one, so it promotes responsibility.
With a better plan in place on how laptops and tablets can be used in the classroom and for school work, with a written understanding that the device is not a toy but rather an expensive tool to be used and mastered, then perhaps there's hope. The article mentions that other places have made it work. Perhaps the districts where this implementation did not work need to take few lessons from those where it did work. You can't implement something like this without careful consideration and a plan. You need a strategy, and it doesn't sound like Hoboken really thought it out.
Perhaps rather than throwing all those laptops out, they should donate them to another school district who has a plan and be more appreciative of the chance to get kids up to speed in technology.
(Oh, and yes, teacher/staff training is important and lacking, but I could go on about that too. That's part of having a good plan, after all. )