A Longitudinal Study of the Use of Student-owned Portable Computers in a Secondary School
Community Services, Education and Social Sciences
During the 1990s a significant development in computer technology has been the emergence of low-cost, high-powered portable computers. This has encouraged a number of schools to experiment with providing students with portable computers for use at both school and home. The arguments for using portable computers in schools are compelling but the field of educational technology is littered with discarded technologies which had equally compelling support. This paper presents the main findings of a three year evaluative study into the implementation of a student-owned portable computer programme by a secondary school in Perth, Western Australia. Findings of a follow-up study four years later are also included. The results were generally disappointing with severe underutilisation of the computers by most students most of the time. However, a number of teachers facilitated substantial use of the computers and in the third year the computers appeared to be used more regularly for a wider range of tasks.