Day 2 of The Lap Top Institute

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Apologies: This is being live blogged, so there may be some awkward wording and grammatical errors. Italicized text are my comments and ideas.

I’m sitting in the audience of the school auditorium, waiting for the second keynote address, Pamela Livingston, who has just published a book about 1:1 initiatives for ISTE. The book is not yet available, but I am looking forward to her presentation. I’ve learned so much at this conference from all of the various perspectives.

I was especially intrigued by a conversation I had with an tech director of an independent school in San Jose. They require students to come to their school with a laptop. However, they do not specify a platform. He said that they have about 90% Windows machines, about 9.5% Macs and three students using Linux laptops. The only specifications were that the students be able to word process, build web pages, produce video, and many other information processing abilities.

It seems to me that a school that can make this work, is doing what they should be doing. Perhaps more conversation about this later. Right now, the keynote is about to start. I’ll post comments here.


Keynotes by Pamela Livingston Pamela is at an independent school in Morristown, New Jersey. She is a regular at the Laptop Institute. She said that writing her book was like refurbishing your kitchen, and having to redo it three times. I can identify with that.

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Her book is based on a masters thesis, which was an examination of the laptop programs at her school. It includes interviews with Seymour Papert, Alan November, and leaders in Main, Michigan, Denver School of Sci & Tech, and Henrico. She starts off making a case by describing the millennials. Today’s children do not know a time before computers. She distinguishes between multitaskers and unitaskers. She says that there is some controversy about this. My observation is that students are not so much multitasking, but that the are able to shift-task very easily. She suggests that laptops are “about to tip” from Gladwell’s The Tipping Point concepts. According the Livingson, school are now buying more laptops than desktops. This is important. Livingston sais that basic trends in 1:1 are that:

  • Allows students to get to the thinking faster
  • Supports constructivist instruction and self-directed learning, and
  • Helps students stay organized

She says that for teachers, 1:1 increases tech comfort for teachers, provides a wealth of curricular resources, and allows more frequent and effective communication with all classroom stakeholders. I agree with Pamela that this is obvious. These advantages are huge for teachers in the twenty-first century. Again and again, the fact that laptop programs increase attendance has emerged in their research. In fact families are moving to neighborhoods because they have 1:1 schools. Writing is also improved, as evidenced by research. Some new studies may indicate some improvement in test schools, but it is far out weighed by all of the research that indicates that the single most determining factor for test scores is the teacher. This was cool. She passed out pipe cleaners, had to fashion a crank, and we turned our cranks thiry times. She then said that we just provided five minutes of computing power for a third-world laptop (Negroponte’s $100 laptop). Livingston says that there are four elements for success:


  • Professional Development
  • Logistics (infrastructure, transporting laptops, storing laptops)
  • Technology Support

She lists some successful programs:

  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Forney ISD
  • The Peck School
  • St. Thomas Episcopal Parish School
  • Henrico

Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.