Teaching with Laptops
Classroom Management

This page tells you how to use a limited number of laptops in the classroom, how to care for and protect laptops, and how to facilitate student communication on computers.

Limited Numbers of Laptops
When laptops are limited, teachers can arrange for group use, rotational use, and free time access of the computers. Students can also check out laptops overnight or during vacations.

Care of Laptops
Laptops are portable, which means they can be taken everywhere—even into the mud and the rain. Special care must be taken of these computers, as for all scientific and electronic equipment.

  • Keep all equipment dry and clean.
  • If you are using a laptop where it is wet or muddy, put the keyboard in a clear plastic bag.
  • On field trips, use a dry box and a wet box to separate supplies and equipment.
  • Air-dry all equipment at the end of the activity.
  • For younger classes, adult chaperones can be responsible for equipment.
  • Assign older students the responsibility of keeping track of each piece of equipment.

Laptop Security
It is easier to lock up a portable computer than a desktop computer, which must be left at a workstation. Some laptops are sold in sets and fit in racks, which roll into classrooms or closets and also serve as recharging stations.

Saving Work on a Computer
Remind students to save work frequently on laptops and on all computers. If you are creating a spreadsheet for your students that uses formulas, lock the formulas to protect them from being changed accidentally. Most spreadsheet programs have instructions for how to protect files.

Facilitating Communication
Teachers can take several steps to facilitate student communication with experts through email or the Internet.

  1. Encourage students to send mail to a group of experts.
  2. Depending on the age of the students, the teacher may want to review communications for appropriate grammar, content, and etiquette.
  3. Adults sometimes misjudge the maturity of student corespondents, so students may request that experts send responses to you first. Take care not to filter too much—one of the advantages of using laptop computers is that students can find out information on their own.

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