Teachers Want Laptops In The Classroom

Over half of teachers believe that using technology in the classroom improves academic performance, but lack of funding is holding back progress, says Intel’s education leader Lila Ibrahim

Three quarters of teachers across Europe are calling on their respective governments to do more to provide computers in schools, according to a recent study by Intel.

The study – which surveyed around 2,700 primary and secondary teachers across 15 emerging and developed countries – highlights the ability of technology to engage students and improve classroom attendance. Of those teachers surveyed, almost 80 percent said it increases students’ interest in learning, and 57 percent believe using technology in their lessons improves academic performance.

However, the research found that while the vast majority of teachers believe being able to use a computer is critical in preparing students to enter the workforce, a funding shortfall is preventing schools from fully embracing technology.

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Lila Ibrahim is general manager of the Emerging Markets Platform Group at Intel, and is responsible for leading the research and development of education technology platforms in countries around the world, including Portugal, Macedonia and Turkey. In an interview with eWEEK Europe, she explained how integrating computers into the classroom can be beneficial to both the students and the teachers.

“What the netbook revolution has done for classrooms is it’s really been a way for students to use the computer more as an integrated tool in the classroom,” she said. “In the past there were computer labs where students got up from their classroom, they went to the next class and they learnt about how to use a computer. So the computer became the subject itself rather than the computer being a tool to learn about the subject. It wasn’t about having your English course or your art class or your science class with a computer, where it would complement or maybe engage you in a very different fashion.”

Changing the teaching paradigm

The Intel Education Initiative is a large-scale project to improve teaching and learning through the effective use of technology. As part of the project, Intel offers reference designs for a collection of hardware, software and services designed specifically for education. One of these products is the Classmate PC – a purpose-built netbook with full PC functionality, designed especially for young students. While being robust and easy to use, the device is also designed specifically for use in a school environment.

“For the past century the teaching paradigm has pretty much remained the same. The teacher at the front of the class and teaching on a blackboard with text books. What all the experts are saying now is that students really need to learn 21st Century skills. They need to learn how to collaborate and they need to learn how to present and to communicate. It’s no longer about one teacher to many students, it has to be more personalised. And I think what computers do is they facilitate that change.

“We sent a bunch of social scientists into schools and we had them watch teachers and students interact with and without technology, and based on that we have come up with this as a reference design,” explained Ibrahim.

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