Technological and economic changes have put a high premium on developing students’ information literacy and research skills. Previous attempts to deploy educational technology toward these ends have proved disappointing because K–12 teachers have difficulty integrating shared computers into instruction. In response, numerous schools and districts have piloted one-to-one programs, in which each student has access to a laptop computer connected wirelessly to the Internet throughout the school day.
Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study:
This paper analyzes the information literacy and research practice in a purposely stratified selection of 10 one-to-one laptop K–12 schools in California and Maine.
Research Design/Data Collection and Analysis:
Sources of data in this multisite case study include observations, interviews, surveys, and teacher- and student-produced materials.
The study found that students in all the laptop schools learned to access information, manage it, and incorporate in into their written and multimedia products. However, the focus on evaluating information, understanding the social issues surrounding it, and analyzing it for the purpose of knowledge production varied widely across schools. Some schools succeeded in promoting scholarly approaches to working with information, whereas other schools mostly limited themselves to teaching procedural functions of computer and Internet use. Examples of these differences are given through a comparison of three diverse schools in Maine.
The study concludes that one-to-one wireless laptops offer important affordances for promoting information literacy and research skills but that socioeconomic context, visions, values, and beliefs all play a critical role in shaping how laptop programs are implemented and what benefits are thus achieved.