St. Louis laptop initiative perfect research vehicle for McNeese professors

By Special to the American Press

Mobile technology in the classroom is a popular topic among education researchers as schools explore ways to keep up with

the latest technology in education while keeping their students engaged in the learning process.

A one-to-one laptop initiative

instituted at St. Louis Catholic last fall was the perfect

research vehicle on

this topic for a group of professors at McNeese State University —

Dustin Hebert, assistant professor of education professions;

Brett Welch, associate professor of education professions; Jan

Broussard, assistant professor of education professions; and

Sharon VanMetre, professor of education professions.

“St. Louis Catholic High School has

been working with laptops this year. One-to-one laptop initiatives such

as this constitute

one of the emerging dimensions of research as P-12 schools are

working toward maximizing learning through innovation and creation,”

Hebert said. “Providing such technology at students’ fingertips at

every moment of the instructional day creates an environment

for this to flourish.”

Hebert contacted St. Louis President Deborah Frank about following the initiative for two years, and she was enthusiastic

about the collaboration.

All students and faculty received Fujitsu tablets before the 2012 fall semester and attended training sessions to learn the

tablets’ features and programs, Frank said.

“This initiative allows us to use

technology in teaching and learning to help us prepare our students with

the skills they

will need to be productive in the future, and the McNeese research

study will help provide us with the necessary benchmarks

to determine our success,” she said. “This collaboration is a

win-win situation for us and McNeese.”

Frank said the initiative is a significant venture for St. Louis that involves student achievement and motivation, instruction,

fiscal resources, personnel and infrastructure.

“In financial terms, this initiative is a significant investment in technology for us and having a mechanism to determine

the return on that investment will be of interest to all parties involved with the initiative,’’ Frank said.

Throughout the 2012-2013 school year,

the research focus is on the processes, successes and challenges

presented during the

first year of implementation using observations in the classrooms

and interviews and surveys of faculty, students and leaders.

“Our findings will then be presented before this school year ends, and we hope that the research we have conducted will help

the school community gauge the success of this initiative to date and set goals for its future,” Hebert said.

The 2013-2014 school year would focus on examining the instructional applications of laptops within each academic discipline

of the school’s curriculum.

“Because of this significant investment, the school leaders are looking to set goals for the 2013-2014 school year of what

measurable outcomes they hope faculty and students will accomplish relevant to technology use,” Hebert said.

He said today’s students have been using this technology for recreation for years and should not have many problems discovering

how it can be used in their learning.

For faculty, the technology provides the opportunity to expand instructional techniques that would not be possible otherwise.

It also enables them to provide different and even greater interaction with students.

“With the technology tools now available at St. Louis, teachers can design lessons that allow more differentiated learning

options that may engage students more than traditional instruction would,” he said.