During the (US) summer of 1990, I had the great fortune of leading professional developments in the world’s first two 1:1 “laptop schools.” This work was rooted in the vision of Seymour Papert and sought to reinvent schooling in a modern progressive fashion. The work of Methodist Ladies’ College in Kew (Melbourne), Victoria is widely remembered as the world’s first laptop school, due to its visionary principal David Loader and its remarkable faculty. They committed to every child having a personal laptop computer and programming it across the curriculum in 1989. Around the same time, the Australian State of Queensland publicly committed to 1:1 computing, starting with a pilot project at the Coombabah State Primary School. I worked in both locations initially and my American public education sensibilities predicted that the Queensland effort would be most successful. I was quite wrong, but was blessed to continue working with MLC and countless other Australian schools over the past 31 years.
The “MLC Story” has been well documented in conference papers and books, but the equally important Coombabah Project could easily be lost to history. I was aware of two research-based books published about this work and have been eager to get my hands on copies for many years. I’ve spent the past decade or so badgering colleagues to help me locate, preserve, and disseminate the books published by Australia’s premiere educational research institution, the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). Thanks to Pru Mitchell and her colleagues, that work is now available as a historical record and for future scholarship. They even produced a thesis I was unaware of.
I could not be more excited to share this news with the world! (The following documents may be downloaded as PDFs)
- Evaluating the integration of learning technology in Queensland state schools: A case study of the Queensland Sunrise Centre, Thesis by Glenn D. Finger
- Learning with personal computers: issues, observations and perspectives, Helga A.H. Rowe, Irene Brown, and Isabel Lesman
- The Queensland Sunrise Centre: a report of the first year, Michael Ryan, Jenny Betts, Greg Grimmett, Karen Hallett, and Dave Mitchell
The following are some of the other seminal books, doctoral theses, and articles detailing the origins of 1:1 computing in Australian schools and the world. Reflections of a Learning Community is digitized and online. One day, I hope to share the rest of the documents and more.
- Grasso, I., & Fallshaw, M. (1993). Reflections of a learning community: Views on the introduction of laptops at mlc: Methodist Ladies’ College.
- Johnstone, B. (2003). Never mind the laptops: Kids, computers, and the transformation of learning. Seattle: iUniverse.
- Little, J., & Dixon, B. (Eds.). (2000). Transforming learning – an anthology of miracles in technology-rich classrooms. Port Melbourne, Australia: Kids Technology Foundation.
- McDonald, H. J. (1995). Learning, laptops and logowriter: A study of teacher change. Monash University. (doctoral thesis)
- Stager, G. S. (1995). Laptop schools lead the way in professional development. Educational Leadership, 53(2), 78-81.
A larger curated collection of resources and articles related to 1:1 computing in schools may be found here.
The early 1:1 computing initiatives were rooted in the powerful ideas of Dr. Seymour Papert. I have archived countless Papert papers and multimedia presentations (hopefully with more to come and an improved design) at The Daily Papert.
Veteran educator Gary Stager, Ph.D. is the author of Twenty Things to Do with a Computer – Forward 50, co-author of Invent To Learn — Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, publisher at Constructing Modern Knowledge Press, and the founder of the Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute. He led professional development in the world’s first 1:1 laptop schools thirty years ago and designed one of the oldest online graduate school programs. Gary is also the curator of The Seymour Papert archives at DailyPapert.com. Learn more about Gary here.