High School Students and Laptops

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Technology has been a tool for teaching writing since its introduction into the public schools. The effect of this practice is widely disputed, and the evidence is mostly subjective. Few scientifically designed research studies on the effects of technology on the teaching of writing have been carried out, and the results of these studies are contradictory on the actual benefits of word processing for writing. This question is part of a continuing debate on whether technology and educational media are more than a mere delivery system for instruction and on the importance of the teacher's role. The use of technology for writing instruction includes computer-based word-processing, projects to provide laptops to all students in schools, software programs that direct writing instruction and assist students in developing their own writing skills, as well as classroom email, website and blog activities.

Schools in Maine, Kentucky, Virginia and British Columbia have invested funds in providing laptops to all students in certain schools. Jefferson County, Kentucky, has recently provided laptops with wireless access cards to every student and teacher at four under-performing middle and high schools. Maine, through the Maine Learning Technology Initiative, has been providing laptops to all eighth grade students for two years and is planning to expand this program to include high schools. They are also planning to experiment with testing online. Since 2001, Virginia's Henrico County Public Schools has provided 25,000 wireless laptops to its middle and high school students and teachers. For grades six and seven, a school in British Columbia initiated the Wireless Writing Project, which focuses on improving written expression. Other state-wide one-to-one computer programs are underway in New Mexico, Michigan and New Hampshire.

Many schools are continuing to utilize classroom and school-based computer labs and related software to teach writing. Teachers are also using...
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