Laptop revolution: New class design saves schools money, space

Mar 09, 2010

Universities around the country are struggling with shrinking budgets, even as they need to cater to the needs of an increasing number of students. New research from North Carolina State University shows that one way to cut down on costs, and simultaneously improve the learning experience, is to have students use the technology they already bring into the classroom.

Specifically, the NC State researchers launched a pilot project to gauge the impact of a classroom design that provides and power outlets to facilitate the use of students' computers. The project revolved around writing classes being taught in the classroom, which required that students bring their laptops to class - obviating the need for the class to use computer labs.

"The cost of setting up a classroom like this is minimal, compared to setting up new computer classrooms, which is essential given budget constraints and the limited availability of new space - you're converting existing classrooms rather than creating new computer labs," says Dr. Susan Miller-Cochran, co-author of the study and associate professor of English at NC State. "Basically, this is an economical way to create a sustainable space for teaching writing that can be scaled up or down according to need.

"And, of course, all of this is predicated on the idea that computer use should be incorporated into introductory writing courses," Miller-Cochran says. "We think it should be because this is the medium today's students use to write, and because computer literacy is a key component of a college education."

However, Miller-Cochran stresses the need to ensure that all students can take advantage of the wireless classrooms. "You need to bear in mind that there are going to be students who do not have their own laptops, or who lose or break their laptops over the course of a semester," Miller-Cochran says. "One solution is to provide a fleet of laptops that students can sign out."

Despite concerns that students would become distracted - checking their Facebook accounts during class, for example - the researchers found that students using their own laptops in the pilot project classroom tended to be more focused, perhaps because of their familiarity with the equipment they were using. "We also found that the students were more likely to take their work with them," Miller-Cochran says. "For example, could pick their laptops up and continue to write in the lounge outside the classroom."

The pilot project was launched in fall 2008, and was composed of 28 class sections taught over three semesters. The researchers hope to increase the number of classrooms with similar capabilities in the near future.

The research, "Teaching Writing in Blended Learning/Space(s)," will be presented by study co-author and NC State doctoral student Dawn Shepherd at the Conference on College Composition and Communication in Louisville, March 18.

Explore further: Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

iTeacher: Program Brings Web 2.0 to the Classroom

Mar 12, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Online media and social networking Web sites - Web 2.0 standards like Facebook and YouTube - are the new tools for communication and entertainment among K-12 students. Safety and inappropriate content issues, ...

Recommended for you

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Apr 18, 2014

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

Apr 17, 2014

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

Apr 17, 2014

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

Apr 16, 2014

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.