As we see laptops being issued to students directly, here in Australia and around the world- it’s interesting to look at the policies being issued to students and teachers – which then shape their use and the learning possible. Given the language. Are we ready for laptops?
When it comes to visualising policy, a word cloud helps me to illuminates the ‘mood’ of the document.
This illustration is from a school laptop policy which begins ‘students will not disable …’, and then goes on to list a long list of terms and conditions under which students can use them. The entire document is built around fear and control, passing significant, long-term risk and responsibility from the issuing authority to the student.
As a parent, I’d be weighing up the risks before agreeing to such terms as;
“never plagiarise information and will observe appropriate copyright clearance, including acknowledging the author or source of any information” and “responsible for any breaches caused”.
The personal computer under overt policy becomes a personal tracking device. Mobile computing means flexible thinking; and shared risk. I wonder how policy affects the learning outcomes. Risk passed directly to the student regardless of their ability to interpret or comply with it? – How does that encourage better pedagogy? How is this being taught and assessed? or it is a case of wait until it happens, then determine who was at fault.
A photo for example, used on a blog or powerpoint? Does the teacher understand copyright?, will the child ask? How can we validate that it is the original source … how much time will be afforded to addressing these issues in busy curricula?
So if we allow digital sources into student work, then we have to be clear as to which parts are being assessed against the usage policy and which against learning outcomes. At a time when teachers are often critisised in their use of technology, the policy that acompanies the device will to a large extent determine the way in which it can be used. We have come a long way in educational technology, but in reform and policy there seems to be an increasing shift of responsibility on children. I’m left wondering if we classrooms are ready for personal laptops in learning and teaching … and have put a 10 second poll online which I hope you’ll add your voice too (or leave a comment).