T. Karsenti1, S. Collin2

1University of Montreal (CANADA)
2University of Quebec in Montreal (CANADA)
This study aimed to determine benefits and challenges of 1-1 laptop programs in elementary and secondary school. In all, 2,712 students (from grades 3 to 11) and 389 teachers participated in this study. The results reveal that 1-1 laptop programs have had a major impact on the students, particularly in their skills and competencies (writing, creativity, work methods, communication and cooperation, critical judgment, etc.). The results also highlight how the teachers in this school board have succeeded, through their pedagogical strategies and other teaching activities, in giving technology a central role in the writing process. Technologies have enabled students to write better, more, and with more inspiration. Besides the substantial impacts on writing, the results also show the main benefits of using technologies in the classroom, as underscored by the teachers and students: academic motivation, access to extensive information, a wide variety of available resources, the potential for individualized learning, and greater feelings of competence, to name only a few. It is important to note that the collected data underscore how the teachers succeeded in giving technologies a central role in their pedagogical strategies and teaching activities in order to develop their students’ writing skills: the students wrote more, faster, and better, and they enjoyed the process. This result is all the more significant given that mastery of writing skills in elementary and secondary school is vital for academic success.

The integration of ICT into education also comes with a number of challenges. In general, we may group the challenges faced by the educators into four categories: 1. Universal access to good quality equipment 2. The time required to properly prepare pedagogical uses of technologies 3. Classroom management 4. Students’ information literacy skills. With respect to the equipment, the vast majority of the surveyed teachers and students said that in order to achieve their teaching and learning objectives, it was essential for each person to have equipment that functioned properly and was always available. The teachers also reported being frustrated because they did not have the time they needed to plan for the best use of the technologies in class. Finally, we must emphasize that the students’ information literacy skills were a constant source of concern for teachers and students alike.

In view of the results of this study, we may suggest that this massive educational initiative to implement technologies has contributed to the improved academic outcomes. Although it is practically impossible to conclude a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the pedagogical use of technologies in class and students’ academic performance, and this was not the primary objective of the study, the results of this second investigation clearly show that a well-considered pedagogical use of technologies by both teachers and students improved the educational context, which would in turn have an overall positive effect on student performance. In other words, this richer educational context, created through teachers’ and students’ use of technologies, contributed to substantially reduce the dropout rate by almost 50% over the past decade. There is no doubt that these improved academic outcomes would not have been possible without the complete commitment and outstanding skills of the teachers, the school principals, and the other education stakeholders.