Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Free laptops - its beginning to happen everywhere

A colleague referred me to a story today in one national newspaper concerning the children of some travellers being given free laptops so that they can engage and continue with their learning whilst 'on the road'. Obviously some form of connectivity is required so they are also given 3G devices, which seems really sensible.

But whats the news here? It's not new - its been running for years. Lots of authorities all over the UK are now moving to wards a handheld device for every child. This allows the desire for 'anytime anywhere' learning to be achieved. I really believe that the children of travellers should have the same opportunities, and if they increase levels of education through the use of ICT, which for some have been notoriously low, then so much the better.

There is clear evidence in the story that they value the opportunity, with incredibly low loss or damage rates to the laptops. (Incidently this very low loss rate is mirrored in the 'Not School' programme for young people not able to attend conventional schoool. Many of these students achieve greater success than those attending conventional school!)

The headline makes a bit of a fuss about parents using them to shop online, but if all the family get increasingly ICT literate, isn't that a good thing? Does it matter? (And hopefully younger siblings are also using them and getting increasingly IT literate.) How many homes have computers for the exclusive use of one person? Experience clearly shows that fathers get more involved with their child's education if I.T. is involved. Young people are often the ones acting as teacher, showing parents how to use new technology - even better.

The children of travellers have a right to education - if they are not attending school through no fault of their own, then they must have something - and this seems to be engaging them. The use of technology to do this is just so obviously the right thing to do. Good move really.
..... and if Swine Flu really does close schools next academic years as some fear - on-line learning is really one route that should be explored more! It is the way forward - we all know that.

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