Laptops: A Transition from Middle to Upper School

Laptop in UseHere are some paragraphs from a newsletter for parents I recently completed. The main article is about the transition for laptop-using students from Middle School (all school-provided) to Upper School (both school- and home-provided laptops):

In the Middle School, a uniform school-provided laptop is a perfect fit because the grade level academic programs are standardized and we are working hard to get all students to the same levels of competency and academic use. To achieve these goals, we have standardized tools that are easily monitored and re-imaged, and they are “locked down” in that students can’t install software or significantly alter the systems. When the eighth graders leave the program, our goal is that they are comfortable and proficient with the use of Microsoft Office and Internet research, as well as organizing their materials and using online communications for academic work. This is the foundation the program creates.

In the Upper School, we continue to build upon this foundation. The curriculum of the Upper School becomes increasingly elective as students move through the program, and we expect students to engage in shaping their own educational experiences and take responsibility for their choices. A student’s own initiative and interests play dominant roles in their development of academic independence.

In this environment, the use of technology becomes increasingly diverse and student centered. Students may continue to use computers primarily for productivity and basic uses of Microsoft Office, or they may explore new tools and new ways of creating products, communicating or conducting research. School-owned and “locked down” laptops can limit students who want to go further in Science, Art, Music, Math and other subjects, because students need to make their own choices and investigate their own tools. We see this as the natural progression for students who have reached the standardized goals of the Middle School.

The entire newsletter is available as a PDF download.

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