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1 Laptop

Michelle Longley, Memorial University of Newfoundland

2 Definitions and background

A laptop is an electronic notebook (Barak, Lipson, & Lerman, 2006) that can be used as a mobile device (Kay & Lauricella, 2011).

During the 1990s, several schools within the United States experimented with laptop programs (Russell, Bebell, and Higgins, 2004). These programs had a strong allure to educational administrators seeking to promote the kinds of thinking, learning, and creativity required in the 21st century (Suhr, Hernandez, & Warschauer, 2010).

Decreased prices, wireless access, and increased convenience created popularity in this device (Kay & Lauricella, 2011). Approximately 65% of students bring their laptop to class (Fried, 2008). There has been a movement in many districts toward one-to-one laptop instruction, in which all students are provided a laptop computer, but there is concern that these programs may not yield sufficiently improved learning outcomes to justify their substantial cost (Suhr, Hernandez, & Warschauer, 2010). The use of laptops in higher education is a recent phenomenon (Lindorth & Bergquist, 2010). Preliminary evidence indicates that effective use of laptops is generally associated with courses that are traditionally associated with technology (Kay & Lauricella, 2011).

3 Affordances

After investigating and comparing beneficial behaviors of laptop use in higher education classrooms, Lindorth and Bergquist (2010) reported positive findings such as note-taking activities, in class laptop-based academic tasks, collaboration, increased focus, improved organization and efficiency, addressing special needs, and researching for supplemental resources. In addition to these benefits, laptop computers offered students with disabilities an opportunity for success that may not be otherwise offered by providing an additional visual representation of learning material (Cengiz Gulek & Demirtas, 2005).

Furthermore, Barak, Lipson, and Lerman (2006) observed that working with subject-specific software programs was a benefit of laptop use in class. Increased learning across a variety of curricular areas was directly related to full access to laptops on a permanent basis, according to Russell, Bebell, and Higgins (2004). Kay and Lauricella (2011) concluded that actively integrating meaningful and structured laptop activities into the classroom would increase the frequency of beneficial laptop behaviors. Through active approaches to teaching, laptops have been shown to assist learning (Finn & Inman, 2004) and in-class laptop use was identified to increase satisfaction, motivation, and engagement among students (Fried, 2008) Laptop use did not impair the overall achievement of surrounding students (Aguilar-Roca, Williams, & O’Dowd, 2012).

Suhr, Hernandez and Warschauer, (2010) completed a study on the effectiveness of 1:1 laptop use for improving teacher and student outcomes. Their findings reported that laptops might have a small effect on increasing literacy scores, with particular benefits in the areas of literary response and analysis and writing strategies (Suhr, Hernandez & Warschauer, 2010). Nicol and MacLeod (2005) studied how technologies in a project design class could support resource sharing within and across project groups. Their inquiry found that laptops helped improve group sharing of resources, supported different kinds of group collaboration and that laptops provided a focal point for the face-to-face discussion of these resources (Nicol & MacLeod, 2005). Finally, Lindorth and Bergquist (2010) concluded that regarding communication, they could observe benefits such as better student-faculty interaction, improved peer collaboration, and instant messaging to peers about concepts covered in class.

4 Constraints

Laptops can become distractions and inhibit high quality learning if the students are not actively engaged in using the laptop (Fried, 2008). Students will participate in non-productive laptop behaviors if instructors do not intentionally and meaningfully use laptops in the classroom (Kay & Lauricella, 2011). Barak, Lipson, and Lerman, (2006) reported that laptops were being used for non-academic purposes, such as instant messaging and playing games.

Multitasking, according to Sana, Weston, and Cepeda (2013) poses a significant distraction to both users and fellow students and can be detrimental to comprehension of content. The behavior of switching back and forth between academic and non-academic tasks creates concerns for learning (Fried, 2008). Barak, Lipson, and Lerman (2006) argued that students who multitask on laptops during class time have impaired comprehension of course material and poorer overall course performance. Sana, Weston & Cepeda (2013) observed that students who multitasked on a laptop during a lecture scored lower on tests.

Other challenges observed by Kay and Lauricella (2011) included students’ distracting laptop behaviors, instant messaging, surfing the web, playing games, watching movies, and decreased focus. Fried (2008) found that when students were given the option of bringing a laptop to class, the use of laptops was negatively related to academic success.

Another constraint of the laptop may be the distracting laptop behavior of nearby fellow students due to the movement of images and laptop screen lighting (Barak, Lipson, & Lerman, 2006). It is interesting to note that in their study of laptop learning programs Percival & Percival (2009) found that while 70% of faculty felt that students were distracted by the technology during class, more than 75% of students did not mind other students using computers for non-class purposes. Laptop use was correlated with lower than predicted performance on exams (Aguilar-Roca, Williams, & O’Dowd, 2012)

Many schools struggle financially to increase student access to technology (Russell, Bebell, and Higgins, 2004) and some faculties have experienced difficulty in integrating the use of laptops in their curriculum (Percival & Percival, 2009). Laptop integration is a relatively new approach to pedagogy; therefore, instructors and students are only learning what is appropriate with respect to laptop behavior in the classroom (Lindorth & Bergquist, 2010).

5 Links

Laptop Classrooms: Technology As A Teaching Tool - The Local Show [2]

Laptop Computers in the K-12 Classroom [3]

Laptops in the Classroom [4]

Laptops and Learning Resources [5]

Laptops Change Curriculum [6]

6 Works Cited

Aguilar-Roca, N. M., Williams, A. E., & O'Dowd, D. K. (2012). The impact of laptop-free zones on student performance and attitudes in large lectures. Computers & Education, 59(4), 1300-1308.

Awwad, F., & Ayesh, A. (2013). Effectiveness of laptop usage in UAE university undergraduate teaching. Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology-TOJET, 12(2), 77-88.

Barak, M., Lipson, A., & Lerman, S. (2006). Wireless laptops as means for promoting active learning in large lecture halls. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 38(3), 245-263.

Cengiz Gulek, J., & Demirtas, H. (2005). Learning with technology: The impact of laptop use on student achievement. The Journal of Technology, Learning and Assessment, 3(2), 3-38.

Crook, S. J., Sharma, M. D., Wilson, R., & Muller, D. A. (2013). Seeing eye-to-eye on ICT: Science student and teacher perceptions of laptop use across 14 Australian schools. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 29(1), 82-95.

Del, S., & Theresa, F. (2001). Laptop computers and multimedia and presentation software: Their effects on student achievement in anatomy and physiology. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 34(1), 29-37.

Demb, A., Erickson, D., & Hawkins-Wilding, S. (2004). The laptop alternative: Student reactions and strategic implications. Computers & Education, 43(4), 383-401.

Finn, S. & Inman, J.G. (2004). Digital unity and digital divide: Surveying alumni to study effects of a campus laptop initiative. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 36(3), 297-317.

Fried, C. B. (2008). In-class laptop use and its effects on student learning. Computers & Education, 50(3), 906-914.

Gaudreau, P., Miranda, D., & Gareau, A. (2014). Canadian university students in wireless classrooms: What do they do on their laptops and does it really matter?. Computers & Education, 70(0), 245-255.

Kay. R.H., & Lauricella, S. (2010). Assessing laptop use in higher education classrooms: The laptop effectiveness scale (LES). Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(2), 151-163.

Kay, R. H., & Lauricella, S. (2011). Exploring the benefits and challenges of using laptop computers in higher education classrooms: A formative analysis. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 37(1), 1-18.

Kay, R. H., & Lauricella, S. (2011). Unstructured vs. structured use of laptops in higher education. Journal of Information Technology Education, 10(1), 33-42.

Kay, R. H., & Lauricella, S. (2014). Investigating the benefits and challenges of using laptop computers in higher education classrooms. Canadian Journal of Learning & Technology, 40(2), 1-25.

Lindroth, T., & Bergquist, M. (2010). Laptopers in an educational practice: Promoting the personal learning situation. Computers & Education, 54(2), 311-320.

McVay, G. J., Snyder, K. D., & Graetz, K. A. (2005). Evolution of a laptop university: a case study. British Journal of Educational Technology, 36(3), 513-524.

Nicol, D. J., & MacLeod, I. A. (2005). Using a shared workspace and wireless laptops to improve collaborative project learning in an engineering design class. Computers & Education, 44(4), 459-475.

Percival, J., & Percival, N. (2009). A case of a laptop learning campus: how do technology choices affect perceptions?. Research in Learning Technology, 17(3), 173-186.

Russell, M., Bebell, D., & Higgins, J. (2004). Laptop learning: A comparison of teaching and learning in upper elementary classrooms equipped with shared carts of laptops and permanent 1: 1 laptops. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 30(4), 313-330.

Sana, F., Weston, T., & Cepeda, N. J. (2013). Laptop multitasking hinders classroom learning for both users and nearby peers. Computers & Education, 62, 24-31.

Suhr, K. A., Hernandez, D. A., Grimes, D., & Warschauer, M. (2010). Laptops and fourth grade literacy: Assisting the jump over the fourth-grade slump. The Journal Of Technology, Learning and Assessment, 9(5).

Wurst, C., Smarkola, C., & Gaffney, M. A. (2008). Ubiquitous laptop usage in higher education: Effects on student achievement, student satisfaction, and constructivist measures in honors and traditional classrooms. Computers & Education, 51(4), 1766-1783.