Guerin Prep began the one-to-one computing program in the fall of 2007 with the freshmen and sophomore classes. Each fall since a new class was added to maximize the school’s mission to prepare students for success in college and career. Now, all students bring their laptops to class each day.
Thanks to a wireless infrastructure installed throughout the school building, each student is able to access the Internet anywhere. This technology, combined with the school’s curriculum and a well-versed faculty allows students to explore diverse cultures and new perspectives; write and edit reports, essays and presentations electronically; plan, prepare and present creative multimedia projects; access online tutoring and communicate with teachers and others worldwide. Electronic textbooks for most core classes are loaded on the laptop.
An Incredible Lifelong Learning Tool
Though the real test of Guerin Prep’s one-to-one computing program will come when the first group of “laptop” graduates go off to college, a recent “mid-term evaluation” indicates that these laptops are transforming the way teachers teach. A technology evaluation of all Guerin Prep teachers to chart the progress of the laptop program was conducted in 2010 which affirmed that that Guerin teachers have effectively integrated technology in their lesson plans and that the use of technology tools has been standardized in every Guerin Prep classroom.
According to Ben Freville, assistant professor at Dominican University who teaches future teachers how to use technology, the daily life of students will necessarily be about computers—about the Web—about encountering the world through digital technology.
“Students need to be prepared for college, for the workplace, for the future,” Freville said. “ Information literacy skills are key skills for students today…We have a responsibility to teach student to find information on the Web; we also need to teach them what is reliable information.”
In the process of teaching these skills students also learn how to operate the laptops and how to navigate various software tools, which leads to a sense of ease for them in college and later on in the workplace, he said.
But more importantly, Freville believes students will also learn cooperation and how to work collaboratively. Eventually, they will learn how to analyze and synthesize information. They will be led to what he calls higher order thinking. They will become problem solvers.
However, the best byproduct of a computer-based education is that the use of the computer increases interest in learning, it helps motivate students, it creates an engaged classroom.
“The use of the Internet alone opens up the world to students,” he said. “Imagine sitting in your classroom and actually visiting sites through virtual field trips. The world becomes a much larger place. It is no longer about a teacher talking to you and you taking notes. You’re engaged in learning, in searching out information."
The computer connects people and offers opportunities for collaboration and cooperation.
“The advantage of this kind of learning environment for the future is incredible,” Freville said.