For the Love of Laptops!

Is the once sizzling technologysuddenly cooling off? A summerconference suggests it is.

The Laptop Institute conferencehas a distinctly sober theme thisyear: “Laptops at the Crossroads:Re-evaluating and Rethinking Oneto-One Initiatives in K-12 Schools.”

Laptops are at a crossroads? When did this happen? Just minutes ago, the sleek machines were on every school official’s wishlist. Yet technology does evolve in minutes these days, and the idea has indeed been floated that tablet computers may be showing laptops the door, a notion tied to thisvery conference.

That might be an overstatement; the laptop is alive and well, but facing a transition. The Laptop Institute’s Web site says this year’s conference (July 16-19 at the Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis) will focus on the “growing pains of existing laptop programs” as the technology emerges from “the honeymoon phase.” The newness of laptop program rollouts has passed. The emphasis has turned to evaluating the success of the programs and deciding on future paths.

“Are laptops impacting student learning as we expected?” the site asks. “What will laptop programs look like in the years to come as emerging technologies and teaching philosophies compete? Are we sharing our successes with the powers that be (boards of trustees, district officials) to ensure support and finances for the road ahead?”

The Laptop Institute was founded seven years ago, and is a think tank for schools using or considering laptops as a tool for learning.

This article originally appeared in the 04/01/2006 issue of THE Journal.