Interview with a Student

October 10, 2014

To learn more about the Laptop Program at this high school, I conducted a short email interview with past students. I asked some basic questions to see if they would elicit any type of response – negative or positive. I tried to make the questions short and open-ended, so the interviewee could focus on whatever they remembered about the program.

Male, 26 years old:

Do you remember the laptop program when you were in high school?
I remember some situations quite well.
Do you remember the teachers using them/not using them?
Most used them occasionally. Some would have you do in class assignments on the laptops regularly. Others would use it mainly for submitting homework via a website we called blackboard and thus not be using them much in class. I remember doing many power points for presentations and “taking notes” on my laptop during class. The use of laptops definitely varied from teacher to teacher and subject to subject.
Any lessons stuck with you particularly?
The laptop program got me comfortable with navigating a computer, including finding wireless internet and troubleshooting issues with it, connecting to a printer, connecting amouse, creating interesting power points, etc.: useful knowledge on a computer that most well-learned users take for granted but can be surprisingly tough for the inexperienced. The biggest lessons I learned was from my mistakes: Don’t believe the pop-ups (they won’t make your computer faster)!
Did you benefit from this program?
I definitely think so. I used the laptop for a lot more entertainment than the program intended but I think I have even benefited from that. Besides, now I type ultra-fast and destroy my peers in computer games. But it helps me at work as well. I use Microsoft Excel regularly and other computer programs in which I can better navigate through menus because of my experience with computers that started with the laptop program.
Did the level of laptop use change between 10th and 12th grade?
I don’t think it ever changed a crazy amount between grades. Perhaps in 12th grade we used it less because peoples’ laptops break along the way when being used every day (or was that just me?). Instead of lessons on how to submit your homework in 10th grade or how to use Microsoft Office, we could focus more on assignments/content in 12th grade.
I made a joke about “taking notes” in class. I may be wrong, but I really believed/believe I could focus more on what the teacher was saying when my mind was stimulated on simple video games. Not action games, but slow, turn-based games. It kept my mind stimulated. Without it, I feel my thoughts would drift or I’d grow sleepy and hear nothing the teacher had to say. I can appreciate that this would be much more of a distraction for many people, but for me, it kept me alert.

Female, 29 years old:

During 10th through 12th grade (2001 to 2003), I was a part of a laptop pilot program in which students/teachers incorporated laptops in the classroom. My parents made monthly payments to pay off the laptop and the school offered assistance to those who needed it. We had dedicated staff who would help fix the laptops and provide technical support. In my experience, the laptop program was very beneficial. There were some bumps in the road launching the program and some teachers adapted better then others.  We would type our papers and take tests on the laptops and “turn them in” by saving them on the hard drive. We also read books on our laptop.
Computer skills are crucial now in the real world. As a public relations professional, I have a laptop in which I do all my work on.

Female, 24 years old:

I’m pretty cynical about the program. My laptop didn’t last beyond the three years I had it in high school, and there were definitely better-made laptops around that cost less than $900. But having the laptop itself was hugely beneficial. It taught me how to use Word and Excel, and also how to discern what qualified as reputable online sources. We had to go to the library for those lessons. I remember in college we had to make a movie using our computers, and since I had to make some in high school, I was already ahead of some of my college peers who didn’t have a laptop program. So maybe I’m less cynical than I thought. The laptops furthered my education, but I think it was mostly self-taught. Most of my learning on the laptop seems to have been outside of the classroom, or in the lunchroom, rather than in it.

Entry Filed under: INF536. Posted in  INF536 .

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