The cool factor

I am lucky enough to work in a district in which a high value is placed on technology. We are moving toward/experimenting with a one-to-one program with netbooks. We have Asus netbooks and have given our students carrying bags for them. As a 7th and 8th grade teacher, I have seen all kinds of different reactions to this netbook being placed in their hand.

But how do we get our students to buy into these netbooks? How do we get teachers to buy into them?

Here are some comments from my students when I asked them what they think of their netbook:

I don’t like it that much. I don’t use it. We don’t have many opportunities to use them in class. It was more fun in 5th grade.

Meh. (Shrugs shoulders) Eh. It’s really small.

I don’t like it. It’s too small and it breaks easily.

It’s another thing to get in trouble for if we don’t charge it.

It says it stays charged for 10 hours, but it doesn’t.

I wish I could bring my own computer. I always have my own laptop charged.

My first reaction to these negative comments when I had heard them during the year has been to think that my students are acting ungrateful. Children in many schools would be thrilled to have this type of access to technology. This is true, but how do we get our students to think that?

But those comments definitely do not reflect student ownership, and that is the real problem. I am amazed at how many of our netbooks have been dropped and broken without students being upset.

I’m not sure what the answer is. Should our students bring their own devices if they choose? Does that open the door to unfiltered Internet access that would have more distractions? How would teachers deal with the mix of technological capabilities?

I had a Samsung Chromebook in class one day, and I was told:

It’s thin, bigger screen, the keys are easier to use. This is cool!

If students are expected to be grateful, excited, and truly own their personal learning device, we can start asking what we need to do in order to make that happen. How do we make learning with technology cool?