Just read an interesting article on eSchoolNews that focuses on some trailblazing schools in Arizona and Tennessee that are not only moving away from using textbooks, but in some cases, eliminating them completely. One school in Arizona has eliminated textbooks in favor of giving all students laptops and using online articles and resources as the basis for curriculum; in Tennessee, educators are using a website built through school and private funding to teach Tennessee history.
I think these programs are fantastic – but I’ve been surprised lately as I’ve heard a few people, especially parents, express some concern about the movement towards technology in schools – specifically as it relates to the one-to-one laptop programs that are being launched in schools throughout the country. There is no doubt in these parents’ minds that technology is a benefit; rather, they have questioned the level of responsibility required by the student to care for and protect an expensive laptop and whether the stress of it all outweighs the benefits.
As someone who has made a career of losing, dropping, forgetting and otherwise "I swear, if your head wasn’t screwed on you’d forget that too”-ing my way through life, I personally don’t know that I would have been able to handle the responsibility of having my own laptop when I was a teenager. When I hear my friends discussing the level of “Where’s the laptop? Did you forget the laptop? Is your laptop safe?” arguments they are having with their children, I wonder if we need to explore ways to make these highly beneficial programs work without putting undo stress on families.
What do you think? By trying to equip our students with the best possible tools to help them learn, are we possibly also requiring a responsibility that early teenagers may not yet be ready to handle, or do the benefits far outweigh any undo pressure we might be putting on students and parents?