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Nielsen, W., Miller, A. & Hoban, G. F. (2012). The digital education revolution: New South Wales science teachers' response to laptop ubiquity. AERA Annual Meeting 2012


Since the introduction of laptop computers across Australia for all Year 9 students, teachers have sought to make meaningful use of the learning potential represented by the introduction. This study uses a lens of cultural historical activity theory to explore how teachers have responded to the ubiquitous presence of student laptop computers during the initial implementation. This paper reports a one-year case study of two highly qualified and experienced high school science teachers that considers their efforts to implement laptop computers in Year 9 and Year 10 science classes. The study shows that these teachers are committed to developing and delivering technology-rich lessons and furthering the learning potential represented by the computers in terms of engaging “21st century learners.” There are, however, several tensions and contradictions that represent significant barriers to developing the learning potential and teachers’ continued engagement with this activity system. These include: 1) classroom and school connectivity along with computer durability and availability for classroom activity; 2) student reluctance to engage with the computers as a learning tool amid generally low levels of cognitive engagement; and, 3) unanticipated changes to classroom management due to the laptop introduction. Now, more than two years into the introduction of laptop computers, teachers are still very much in a transition period from “before laptops” to “after laptops.”

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