...For teachers at least. I'm slowly moving into the 1:1 computing camp, but I'm not sold 100%. However, for teachers, it's another story entirely.
We were lucky enough to receive a large gift from an alum's estate almost three years ago that allowed us to outfit every teacher with a laptop. Not only was this incredibly helpful to teachers who were, at the time, squeaking by with dying pieces of junk, but it drastically changed the way at least 75% of them taught and prepared for class.
All of a sudden, grades were managed electronically, allowing for easy creation of progress reports and better student feedback. Lecture notes were being posted on the web and teachers were beginning to use digital projectors for their presentations. Teachers were, in fact, working more, since they could easily take work home with them and were also making use of the laptop in their professional development.
Now, of course, the laptops are reaching the end of their lifecycle. As I started pitching the need to include replacements in the FY09 budget, however, the grumbling began in the administration. "We can't fund that...those were a one-time deal." "I don't know, those were a gift." "Three years and you need new ones already?"
You've heard it before...The utter lack of understanding of the need for lifecycle funding, and just when I thought I'd gotten through to the powers that be. More significantly, the lack of understanding of just how integral these have become in classroom instruction was pretty disheartening. Sure, we could all teach just fine with a chalkboard and the knowledge in our heads. One-room schoolhouses and wood stoves were a ton of fun, too.
This, however, is 2007, and quite a few teachers are starting to catch up and use the really valuable tools we have available. Hotchalk, blogs, PowerPoint, scanned coursework and notes...These are all tools on which we have come to rely and that keep our students engaged with their coursework anywhere they have Internet access.
Sorry, bean counters. Laptops are not a luxury any longer for teachers. If schools can't supply them , then we'll need to add them to the already lengthy list of supplies that teachers purchase for themselves to do their jobs. Can I deduct all $1500?