What could a teacher do with a laptop?

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I’ve been thinking lately (always scary) about changing the PD model. Mark Ahlness responded to my last posting stating:

Use the new technologies, for goodness sakes. Right, powerpoint is not
a new technology, neither are web pages. Don’t use them. I don’t have
the answers right now, but I know they are out there. The model of
staff development in schools as is should be totally scrapped. Wipe off
the table, clear out the preconceived notions. Start over.

I couldn’t agree more! But here is what I’m running into. How do we redo staff development in a 21st century way without 21st century tools? I can think of some really cool ways to do professional development where every teacher had a laptop. Where the PD becomes personalized as teachers could jump from link to link and personalize their training.

So what could teacher do with a laptop? I’m looking for some help here so please feel free to add!

  • Create individualized RSS aggregater for their subject/area based off information in a PD session.
  • Interact and add to a wiki session in real time.
  • Take notes in a common document using writely or other online program and share them instantly.
  • Blog about the training during the training
  • Browse the web for resources and connections during the training instead of after the training.
  • Create a social bookmarking site using del.icio.us or other site where people could create a resource rich site for all to share.
  • Listen to podcasts or watch videos on a personal screen rather then on a large presentation screen, giving those in the back row the same view as those in the front.

I’m sure there are more, and it’s been 5 years since I’ve been in a school where teachers had their own laptops. 5 years ago web 2.0 didn’t exist.

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I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. All teachers in the Manatee County (FL) are supplied with laptops!
    However, a large proportion of these teachers are tech challenged. Most do not go beyond email and web browsing. I used my laptop constantly to blog, write and publish lesson plans, communicate with parents, build and update the school website, get new ideas for lessons on the web and create online learning activities and assessments for my students.

    Many teachers feel that the new technologies are great, but who has time to learn them? Staff development is expensive, time consuming and, in many cases irrellevant, and is ofter resented by faculty who are under pressure from NCLB.

  2. If you find your staff development is irrelevant, say so. Tell the administration what you want to learn, and tell them what tools you want to use for learning. Too often SD courses are outdated and have no impact on teaching. I think it’s a two-way street… administrators need to be more in tune with staff needs, but staff needs to be more vocal and involved. The new tools…whether blogs wikis and podcasts or iPods and tablet pcs… have both academic value and high interest levels for both instructors and students. Academia is known for dogged resistance to change, but in the world that our students know, change is a regular occurence. Teachers need to accept and embrace change as well.

  3. Pingback: Along the Way » My Weekend PD for May 6-7

  4. Sarah ED205 Reply

    I went to a private school where all teachers had a laptop, but as said by curt, many of them only used it for mail and web browsing. There were a select number of teachers, and more now since my sister is still in hs, that are usuing their laptops to communicate with parents and let them know grades and so on.

    I think that teachers need to be up to date on their technology, it is a very important learning tool, and especially since there are resources for children of every age.

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