Book Review

1-to-1 Learning: Laptop Programs that Work

by Pamela Livingston, International Society for Technology in Education, Washington D.C., 2006, 164 pp. with index, $34.95 softcover

In 1-to-1 Learning: Laptop Programs that Work, Pamela Livingston raises this question: Why restructure school districts, retrain teachers and invest in the huge and sometimes contentious task that is necessary to install a 1-to-1 student laptop program? While the teachers, administrators, boards of education and parents of each school district must answer this question on their own terms, Livingston argues that today’s students live in an age where instant access to information and the ability to manage that information are requirements.

Livingston, an administrator at independent schools for 13 years and previously a manager of computer projects in corporate America, says students today must be able to move beyond memorizing to synthesizing information, but they only will do so if each student has a digital assistant. Students are competing in a global society where they must use collaborative and higher-order thinking, contributing to her convincing case that laptops are essential for students to be active and engaged participants.

Livingston compiled 1-to-1 Learning from three sources — an intensive review of the research on laptop programs, interviews with more than three dozen school leaders who have implemented a student laptop program, and her professional experience leading and implementing the student laptop program at the Peck School in Morristown, N.J.

Livingston emphasizes the importance of careful planning before any laptops are purchased to prevent implementation problems. She covers all of the essential steps, from formulating a vision to assembling adequate technical support, providing continuous staff development and regularly evaluating the program.

The book’s helpful sidebars give expert advice, cautionary tips and lessons learned. The supporting documents in the appendices provide successful practices, procedures and policies; answers to frequently asked questions; and worthwhile professional activities.

Reviewed by Diane E. Reed, associate professor and interim co-director, Graduate Educational Leadership Program, St. John Fisher College, Rochester, N.Y.