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2007 A Study of the 1:1 Laptop Program at the Denver School of Science & Technology

Date: 2007
Author: Dr. Andrew A. Zucker, Dr. Sarah T. Hug
Affiliation: Denver School of Science and Technology
Keywords: laptops, technology, evaluation, classroom


In the spring of 2007 the Denver School of Science and Technology commissioned a study of its 1:1 laptop program. Results of that study are presented here. The Denver School of Science and Technology (DSST) is a public charter high school located in northeast Denver.DSST opened its doors with a ubiquitous computing environment. Hewlett Packard (HP) provided a grant of computers and related equipment worth about $1 million that allowed DSST to become the first public high school in Colorado in which every student is provided with a wireless, networked personal computer. Students in grades 9 and 10 (the Prep Academy) each receive a laptop, while students in grades 11 and 12 (the Senior Academy) each receive a tablet computer. Nearly every teacher has a tablet computer. The school has a total of about 500 laptop and tablet computers.

The school's Benchmark Assessment Program was selected as a special focal point for this study because the school's leaders decided that systematic collection and use of data about student achievement would be part of the foundation on which DSST would be built.

Key Findings:

* DSST teachers and students use laptops daily while at school, for many purposes. This is in marked contrast to students' use of technology in the schools they attended before DSST.

* The use of computers varies by subject, with the greatest use reported in English and humanities, history, mathematics, and science.

* Almost all teachers use their computer projector at least a few times a week and nearly 60% use one daily.

* Teachers in the Senior Academy (eleventh and twelfth grades) report more intensive use of laptops.

* Common applications of laptops also include teachers making whole-class presentations (by projecting their laptop screen for the class to see), word processing (including students' notes, essays, and reports), and student presentations. Graphing calculators and probes are used extensively in mathematics and science classrooms.

* The great majority of students say that the laptops have a very (65%) or somewhat (29%) positive impact on how much they learn in school.

* Nearly all teachers agreed that the laptop program is very (67%) or somewhat (30%) important for students; only 3% disagreed.

* Data shows that there was a "digital divide" for students before they began attending DSST. Among those who identify themselves as Hispanic, fully 50% report that they rarely or never used computers before they attended DSST. The corresponding figure for African American students is 40%. Only 25% of the Caucasian students report that they rarely or never used computers before coming to DSST, however. These figures may not be surprising but they support the importance of a laptop program in a public, ethnically diverse school serving large numbers of underrepresented students as a way to overcome the digital divide.

* While 75% of Prep Academy teachers report that they ask a student to stop their off-task activities with laptops at least once every class period, by the time students are in the Senior Academy only 36% of the teachers report the same frequency.

* The 1:1 laptop program has changed teachers' instructional practices. Among DSST teachers, more than 90% agree or strongly agree that "I have changed the way I organize classroom activities."

* Teachers report a number of other positive impacts of the laptops, including "computers help encourage my students to think creatively" and "with computers, my students have increased opportunities to apply their knowledge."

* Two-thirds of DSST teachers report that technology is now "essential" or "extremely essential" to their teaching practice. Similarly, the almost unanimous opinion of the teachers (89%) is that the laptop program is important for DSST students. Teachers also report that because of the laptops they are more reflective about basic teaching goals and priorities (80% agree or strongly agree) and they more often ask students to work independently (77%).

Source Article: http://scienceandtech.org/documents/Technology/DSST_Laptop_Study_Report.pdf