Laptops of the World Laptops of the World
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Laptops of the World
by Daniel Brook
In inner-city Philadelphia, a pilot program is arming its high schoolers with laptops. But in countries like Norway-and increasingly in the developing world-that's the norm. Why is the United States so behind? And is it worth it to play catch-up?
In the world's largest economy and leading technological innovator, the laptops-in-schools concept is still rare.Of course, the one-laptop-per-child concept is not unique to the School of the Future. The eponymous American nonprofit has famously distributed thousands of low-cost laptops everywhere from Peru to Cambodia. What is notable is that in the world's largest economy and leading technological innovator, the concept is still so rare. America, after all, is the country that invented the computer. (ENIAC, arguably the first true computer, was built just a few miles from the School of the Future, at the University of Pennsylvania.) But while the United States integrates computers on the patchwork, pilot-program model of developing countries like Peru, many of our economic peers-especially in technophilic Scandinavia-are embracing them as universal, an essential part of 21st century education. As an American high school student might ask: What's up with that?
Even if it is successful, is the School of the Future truly the pilot program it claims to be?With its international reputation, the school has attracted a corps of young teachers excited about technology and education. When the school hires teachers-or even a new principal-students take part in the interview process. Interdisciplinary learning and team teaching are standard operating procedure.But even if it is successful, is the School of the Future truly the pilot program it claims to be? The school is clearly acting as a magnet school for teachers if not students and the building came in $15 million over-budget. "I'm not a fan of spending $62 million on one school," Temple's Ketelhut says. "There's an equity issue. It's one thing if it's a pilot and if it works we'll do it elsewhere. But is there money to do it elsewhere?"Even Tony Franklin admits that given the budget constraints of inner-city education, "a one-to-one laptop program in every school in the district is not realistic." Corey Arnold; Philly by Meiko Takechi Arquillos.
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