The Bellevue School District’s One-to-One Laptop Initiative equips each student with a Lenovo Yoga 260 Laptop, complete with stylus. The general consensus is that laptops have been a valuable addition to students’ education; however, many people, mostly parents and staff, have wondered whether laptops are truly helpful. One-to-One affected BSD schools in many ways, both positively and negatively, and these implications have been both educational and outside of education.
The educational impact of One-to-One has been immense. Since 2013, when Sammamish HS first incorporated One-to-One, laptops have become the choice learning tool for many, if not most, middle and high school classrooms, replacing now “old-school” paper worksheets. It is important to note that the usage of laptops was still present before One-to-One; however, now, students take their laptops home. Taking laptops home allows for students to “have the same tools aligned with teaching” (BSD).
OneNote is one of these major tools introduced by the One-to-One Laptop Initiative. It offers three different section groups: The Content Library, The Collaboration Space, and the Personal Space. This fits almost perfectly with BSD teaching styles, as they can use the Content Library to “hand out” worksheets or other such to students. The Collaboration Space can provide an area for students to communicate, and the Personal Section provides a place for student work completion. Bringing laptops home also allows for OneNote usage at home as well as at school, so that homework can be completed on OneNote instead of on paper.
However, there have been many problems with the widely used desktop app for OneNote. The efficiency and effectiveness of the Collaboration Space have been questioned, mainly because of relative slow sync time, in relation to other tools such as Google Docs, and conflicting pages occurring widely as a result of mass editing by different users. Office 365 online is considerably faster but rarely used in the context of school.
Many teachers still prefer paper copies of textbooks, articles, and worksheets to their digital counterparts, and it seems as if those teachers have merit to their argument. In a study by the University of Stavanger taken in 2013, with 72 10th graders, the students were divided into two groups, where one read a text on paper, and the other group read the same text as a PDF on a computer. The study found that the group that read the paper texts scored significantly higher on a reading comprehension test afterward, and that actually touching the text and turning pages makes it easier to remember something, at least more than scrolling down a PDF. Additionally, a study by Pam Mueller and David Oppenheimer of Princeton University and UCLA, respectively, found that students who handwrite notes learn more than students who type up notes on their computer. This is where touchscreen and the stylus of BSD laptops come into play. Students may actually get the benefits of paper copies and handwriting notes if they use the touchscreen and stylus of BSD laptops. However, many students do not use the touchscreen or stylus for various reasons, such as laziness, illegible handwriting, losing their stylus, or computer problems. So, the laptops’ impact on education vs paper copies are questionable. Even so, writing with a stylus is not the same as traditional handwriting, and having a tangible copy helps as well.
According to the BSD website, “laptops support Problem-Based Learning, allowing students to research, collaborate, and produce a final product to share with peers, teachers, and parents.” While some aspects of Problem-Based Learning are supported by laptops and OneNote, some may argue that laptops have taken away some of the more interactive, hands-on activities at school, such as building a project in Science, as opposed to running a simulation. In this respect, laptops can be viewed as potentially damaging to students’ creativity.
Aside from OneNote, laptops also provide students with other online resources, such as research websites, coding programs, computer simulations, among many others. Laptops also provide resources that align with many of BSD’s goals, such as K-12 Computer Science.
Laptops have also affected students non-educationally. Since the introduction of laptops, many teachers have been repeatedly frustrated because of students playing games during class. Many students have even pirated games such as Minecraft to play on their laptops. Since then, the BSD has been cracking down on gaming and other such behavior, by blocking various websites, restricting access to certain computer programs, taking away students’ computers, “banning” games such as Minecraft, and implementing ClassPolicy, a program designed to keep students focused on the task at hand, by temporarily restricting certain programs and providing a screen monitor for teachers.
Another example of a non-educational impact from the laptops is the use of school email as a social network. Recently, the BSD revoked and revived Odle students’ permission to send emails, because of various students using “Reply All” to a massive chain email sent to almost all Odle students.
One-to-One has changed student lifestyle in general. Many parents have complained that students are staring at their laptops for the whole day, due to the fact that now, most of their homework, studying, and recreation is done on their laptops.
Many people say that One-to-One saves paper, so it is beneficial to the environment. On the other hand, paper worksheets and notebooks are still used, and the process and materials involved in laptops are still harmful to the environment. Thus, One-to-One’s impact on the environment could even be detrimental.
Lastly, the world is becoming more and more digitally-oriented each day. To many people, the most powerful benefit of One-to-One is to prepare students for the digital world and equip them with familiarity with computers.
In conclusion, the favorableness of One-to-One is actually quite varied. Although for kids, One-to-One seemed to be the best thing in the world, the fact is, that often times the computers have flawed educational impacts, many times dipping below the effectiveness of paper copies. However, the laptops’ touch-screens and stylus completely change the circumstances of computers’ traditional flaws. Nevertheless, probably the most important impact of One-to-One, in the long term, is the preparation of BSD students for the future, technology-filled, world.