Vancouver Public Schools has begun implementing its weLearn 1:1 program, which should be district-wide by 2017. This program gives students their own personal iPads or laptops to use at school and at home. The devices will be issued to students with pre-installed apps and Web filters, and are only to be used for educational purposes. According to the VPS website, the program aims to create “21st century flexible learning environments” by making technology “seamlessly embedded in education.”
VPS may be preparing students for the modern workforce, but it’s also inhibiting critical thinking. When a student learns how to do something on paper, they gain essential problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. But if they learn how to solve a problem with technology, they become accustomed to doing things the easy way. Therefore, teachers should make sure they cover material in class before it is introduced on the students’ devices.
For example, a 1:1 teacher preparing a lesson on long division should allot a certain amount of instructional time for the traditional paper-and-pencil method, and then allow students to practice what they’ve learned by playing a game. This way, the students understand the material before it becomes more fun than work.