Wireless-Portable Technology Unlocks the Potential for Computers to Support Learning in Primary Schools
Australian Council for Computers in Education
Community Services, Education and Social Sciences
Over the past decade developments in computer technology have led to the emergence of low-cost high-powered portable computers, and improvements in the capabilities and operation of computer networks (e.g. Intranets and the accessibility of the Internet). While these developments should be welcomed by schools it is not clear that they will have any more impact on school-based learning than previous developments in computer technology. In the implementation of student use of portable computers in schools access to networking has proved difficult using traditional cabling systems. The use of wireless networking may provide the solution and thereby unlock more of the potential for computers to support learning. This paper provides case studies that report on an ethnographic action research study to investigate the potential of the combination of wireless networking and portable computing at a primary school. Data were collected about two classes of Year Seven students and the use of the technology in three extended projects. The data were generated from formal interviews, observations of lessons, questionnaires, and informal discussions with teachers. The portable technology was successfully implemented and supported the students’ project work with no significant technical problems. This provides a model for other schools to consider as they implement computer support for learning.