Teaching with Laptops
Laptop Rationale













It is useful to consider the advantages that laptop computers provide in the learning environment, especially in comparison to desktop computers.

Laptops’ portability helps students use technology.

  • Laptops are lightweight and can operate on batteries.
  • Laptops can be passed among students, moved around the classroom, carried in school and on field trips, and taken home.
  • Laptops fit in backpacks and can be carried anywhere.

Laptops facilitate data sharing and processing by students.
Students can share a laptop and take turns to view, input, and analyze data. Individuals or groups can transfer information using filesharing programs and/or wireless connectivity. Students at different locations can interact through email or videoconferencing, using wireless connectivity among computers, or a modem. Laptops provide ready access to Internet resources, even in the field, using wireless remote access. The ability to process and graph data immediately allows students to check estimates and make decisions about the next step of an activity in the field or laboratory. The flexibility of laptops lets students take more ownership in learning—ownership which is key to effective education and positive self-esteem.

Laptops have similar advantages for teachers.
In the classroom, teachers can connect laptops to monitors or overhead projectors to give multimedia presentations, clarify assignments, and review procedures.

  • Teachers can use laptops to record and organize notes on individual student progress.
  • Teachers can use the computers in conjunction with digital cameras to record events for later student assessment.
  • Laptops facilitate communication between students and teachers: using a laptop at home or in the field, students can submit assignments or questions via email or wireless connectivity.

As you review the exemplary lessons selected in the 1999 Toshiba/NSTA Laptop Learning Challenge, you will find ways that laptop computers have been key to the success of the learning experience. Below is a partial list of examples.

Advantages of Laptops in the 1999 Laptop Learning Challenge Lessons
Level key

Advantages of Laptops Exemplary Lessons
Portable within the school, outside the classroom ../lessons/elementary LevelThe Big Hand Challenge
../lessons/elementary LevelMath Hunt
../lessons/elementary LevelFormula for Fitness
../lessons/middle LevelSolar Race Cars
../lessons/high School LevelControlling Robots
Portable for field trips and investigations ../lessons/elementary LevelSeaside Science
../lessons/elementary LevelHabitat Dynamics
../lessons/middle LevelTree I.D.
../lessons/middle LevelWorm Weather Predicted
../lessons/middle LevelAt Issue: Light Pollution
../lessons/middle LevelExploring the Beach
../lessons/high School LevelCommunity Cartography
../lessons/high School LevelAquatic Field Data
../lessons/high School LevelMapping by Satellite
../lessons/high School LevelAmusement Park Physics
../lessons/informal LevelFor the Birds
../lessons/informal Level Ant Farm
../lessons/informal LevelWatershed Biology
../lessons/informal LevelTesting the Waters
Provide immediate data processing and graphic feedback ../lessons/elementary LevelSeaside Science
../lessons/middle LevelAt Issue: Light Pollution
../lessons/middle LevelExploring the Beach
../lessons/high School LevelAmusement Park Physics
../lessons/informal LevelAnt Farm
Immediate feedback and analysis allows next-step decision making in the field ../lessons/middle LevelSolar Race Cars
../lessons/high School LevelAquatic Field Data
../lessons/informal LevelWatershed Biology
../lessons/informal LevelTesting the Waters
Allow file-sharing ../lessons/elementary LevelThe Big Hand Challenge
../lessons/high School LevelAquatic Field Data
Facilitate group work and collaboration ../lessons/elementary LevelSeaside Science
../lessons/middle LevelTree I.D.
../lessons/informal LevelAnt Farm
Generate reports and presentations ../lessons/elementary LevelHabitat Dynamics
../lessons/high School LevelCommunity Cartography
../lessons/informal LevelAnt Farm
Flexible and inventive uses ../lessons/elementary LevelThe Big Hand Challenge
../lessons/high School LevelControlling Robots
Access to expert resources on the Internet or through email ../lessons/middle LevelTree I.D.
../lessons/middle LevelAt Issue: Light Pollution
../lessons/high School LevelCommunity Cartography
../lessons/high School LevelMapping by Satellite
Level key


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October 1, 1999   NSTA Home    Laptop Learning Challenge Home    Contact Us