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2004 Laptop Learning: A Comparison of Teaching and Learning in Upper Elementary Classrooms Equipped With Shared Carts of Laptops and Permanent 1:1 Laptops

Date: February 2004
Author: Michael Russell, Damian Bebell, and Jennifer Higgins
Affiliation: Boston College
Keywords: carts, motivation, writing


South Elementary School is located in Andover, Massachusetts, an affluent suburb located 20 miles north of Boston. During the 2000-01 school year, the district provided the school with a cart of 30 laptop computers which was shared among all fourth and fifth grade classrooms. Technology use increased, prompting the principal to develop a voluntary parent laptop purchase program in an effort to provide each student with his/her own laptop while remaining within a tight budget.

The principal became curious whether teaching and learning differentiated between the two settings. Therefore, she invited the authors' research team at the start of the 2002-2003 school year to conduct an independent study of the two strategies for providing students with access to laptops.

Although the findings do not focus on the effect of technology use on student learning, the authors believe the findings have important implications for research that examines technology use and the relationship between use and student achievement. The authors acknowledge that both Cuban (2001) and Oppenheimer's (2003) work suggest that even though students' access to technology has increased over the last decade, technology is often not widely used. They believe it important to emphasize, however, that none of the classroom environments studied by Cuban or Oppenheimer begin to approximate the ubiquitous access provided in the classroom examined in the present study.

Key Findings:

The authors present five primary findings that resulted from the investigation of differences in teaching and learning between two classroom types: one classroom type shared a cart of laptops which allowed teachers to provide laptops for every student one in every five weeks, while the other classroom type had 1:1 full access to laptop. For ease of reference, classrooms that shared a cart of laptops are referred to as "shared classrooms." Classrooms that were equipped with one laptop per student on a permanent basis are referred to as "1:1 classrooms".

* Technology was used more frequently in 1:1 classrooms

* Motivation and engagement was higher in the 1:1 classrooms

* Computers were the students' primary writing tool in the 1:1 classrooms

* Classroom structure differed between the 1:1 and shared classrooms

* Students in the 1:1 classrooms used computers at home more frequently for academic purposes

Source Article: http://www.bc.edu/research/intasc/PDF/Andover1to1.pdf