Now that we are starting a revolution, what are some of the changes that we can effect with one to one computing. Lets start with this
Electronic Portfolios. One of the great benefits of a computer is its ability to remember everything. When every student has a laptop we can begin to create records of all of the work that they do in school. Every note they take, every homework they hand in, every test they take, every paper they write, every PowerPoint presentation they prepare, every email they exchange with a teacher, every instant message conversation that they have, every math problem that they work, every exam they are handed back, can be stored and accessed on the laptop for immediate access, anywhere, anytime. No more I can't find it; no more the dog ate it, no more divisions between classes and disciplines. The student's computer becomes an interdisciplinary storehouse of information for them to use and share.
At recommendation time, a student can present the teacher with a record of the work they did together in class. Guidance no longer will need to rely solely on grades to present a student's accomplishments. Each student will be able to put together, if that student chooses to, a picture of their best intellectual work while they were in school or from other schools if they transfer. They will not only have electronic records of their sports accomplishments (videos, DVDs) but also of their intellectual accomplishments. Students could present videos instead of essays to colleges they wish to attend. Electronic portfolios would set them apart for awhile.
Everyone having a laptop, 24/7 makes this possible. Ownership of the computer device gives you ownership of the stored data. It is yours. You can't do it as well with shared computers or central storage. It then begins to take on Orwellian connotations that I fear.
Having all of your work and explorations available to you also opens the possibility of having the raw material necessary to write a significant senior thesis as a capstone to your scholastic experience. That would also set a student apart.
Imagine the storage capacity that you would have to share with a network of laptops with 80G hard drives..... That is 1000's of Gigs of community distributed storage....and the processing power of all of those computers.......all joined in a single distributed learning network.
That is the emerging business paradigm in the world. Laptops will give students real time experience in that paradigm. That is why we need them.