Are Full-Sized Computers Still Important Tools for Schools?

With smart phones, netbooks and small tablets everywhere these days and the growing popularity of BYOD in schools, are laptops a dying breed? Do we still need full-sized screens and keyboards?


We need to promote tasks that require more than fleeting attention. I agree with your editorial.

Students need to be able to see clearly what they are working on and be able to type easily.

Laptops and devices are used for different pedagogical uses, ideally. I don't see mobile devices replacing the robust laptop even with all their current or future capabilities. I don't see students being as spontaneous and ingenius with laptops. I think the two technologies complement each other. That said, in a cash-strapped environment, it's really a case of most bang for your buck and thinking of creative ways, financially and pedagogically, to get the tools your students need based on the curriculum and vision for the school.

Jen, I totally agree! I do believe that laptops or desktop computers will still be needed but not in the bulk purchases as before. As more and more use of tablets and phones are attempted, we're finding there are several instances where multi-tasking on a site is required and it's not as easily done on tablets or phones. That frustration is coming from the user.

We need to promote tasks that require more than fleeting attention. I agree with your editorial.
Students need to be able to see clearly what they are working on and be able to type easily.

Laptops and desktops are more "formal" learning platforms, and larger mobile devices (ipads) will move into that realm once cloud software comes on board. Smaller hand held devices are still recognized as social devices requiring "fleeting attention."

It is hard to introduce computational thinking skills on a tablet, mainly because Apple does not want iPad users to create applications outside of their AppStore. Getting a programming development environment to run on a tablet can be challenging.

Tablets make it very hard to multi-task, and see more than one application displayed at the same time. Bigger monitors help to facilitate this task.

Students can be just as spontaneous on a laptop as they are on a tablet. It all boils down to the skill level of the teacher OR the initiative that the student takes to take charge of his own learning if the teacher assigns a project where the teacher is not knowledgeable about the technology being used.

Laptops and other computers are absolutely still needed. While many apps on iPads, iPods and other mobile devices make certain tasks more efficient and chromebooks can be great for web based research and writing among other things, you still need a good computer to participate in many of the more engaging and rigorous learning activities and occasionally you need to work offline without WiFi or cellular service. Not everything runs in HTML 5, PHP and Flash or Adobe AIR. Also, on what platform can the next generation of designers and developers that will build the apps, design the games, automate a home, engineer a car, generate a musical soundtrack or midi captured score, make the next Facebook, Google Apps, Twitter, or Instagram, build the robots, and create other yet unimagined products best learn and be able to do this on? At this time, I don't think it is solely a mobile handheld, netbook, or chromebook. The latest Windows tablets make a compelling case and many things can be accomplished on an iPad, but I think it is still a full featured MacOS or Windows laptop that is needed.

In many ways, think of this as using the best tool for the task at hand. In some cases that is an app on an iPad, other times it is collaborating in a Google Doc, or you may really need a full featured word processor to produce a formal paper with footnotes, MLA/APA citations, varied level headings and a auto generated table of contents and more. Of course you don't need that to learn good writing and peer review techniques. Also many things utilize Java or require you to connect external devices such as PASCO and Vernier sensors to capture and analyze data, program robots (LEGO, Botball, etc), program an App, publish an App with Phonegap, build your own game in MIT Scratch, CMU Alice, or Processing, work with Arduino or Hummingbird kits, design in Sketchup or AutoCAD, 3D scan, 3D print, design and manipulate a 3D model. Sure mobile apps are being developed to do things like this, as are some web only apps, and the ChromeOS and chromebooks have evolved to be valuable tools, but to do all of the hands on learning activities that demonstrate mastery today, you once again still need a MacOS or Windows computer.

Sure there are work arounds and alternatives to many programs, but it makes things very complex and introduces barriers to learning. Lastly, much of this fits within the spirit of a BYOD or BYOT program, unlike a 1:1 program where everyone has the same device and learning opportunities abound, a well structured BYOD program can get to 1:1 and beyond through a combination of personal tools and school or district owned tools that facilitate all of the varied educational programs and activities found in a technology rich active learning environment.

YES, full-sized models are important tools for student writing, reading, data analysis, and multimedia authoring.

I think still can not replace the need for a large screen. such as computers and laptops. tetep different to the specifications

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