1:1 laptops vs. pencil and paper

Just finished reading the book Education Nation by Milton Chen and found the following post in Chapter 3 “The Technology Edge: Putting Modern Tools in Young Hands.” According to the book, this was posted anonymously on the Dialogue Buzz web site of Abilene (KS) High School.


Let’s have a little competition at school and get ready for the future.

I will use a laptop and you will use paper and pencil. Are you ready?

I will access up-to-date information. You will have a textbook that is five years old.

I will immediately know when I misspell a word. You have to wait until it’s graded.

I will learn how to care for technology by using it. You will read about it.

I will see math problems in 3-D. You will do the odd problems.

I will create artwork and poetry and share it with the world. You will share yours with the class.

I will have 24/7 access. You will have the entire class period.

I will access the most dynamic information. Yours will be printed and photocopied.

I will communicate with leaders and experts using email. You will wait for Friday’s speaker.

I will select my learning style. You will use the teacher’s favorite learning style.

I will collaborate with my peers from around the world. You will collaborate with the peers in your classroom.

I will take my learning as far as I want. You must wait for the rest of the class.

The cost of a laptop per year? $250.

The cost of teacher and student training? Expensive.

The cost of well-educated U.S. citizens and workforce? Priceless.


Chen, M. (2010) . Education nation: Six leading edges of innovation in our schools. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

I’ve had this book sitting within the pile beside my bed for several months, but I’m glad to have finally read it. Chen is obviously passionate about the topic, and I love the big-picture and forward thinking perspective he has for education and our country. It’s a great read and I highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys thinking about and acting upon needed reforms in learning and teaching.

Cross posted at www.curtrees.com and www.TeacherCast.net.

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