Laptops have helped a number of senior high schools in Sydney achieve improved results in science.
Education Review reported that in his PhD thesis for the University of Sydney, Simon Crook – demonstrated that teaching with laptops helped NSW Year 12 students achieve better results in Higher School Certificate biology, chemistry and physics.
Mr Crook’s thesis involved a six-year study of 16 Sydney Catholic schools and case studies with four NSW science teachers during the federal government’s Digital Education Revolution.
Implemented by then-federal education minister Julia Gillard in 2008, the initiative saw the government allocate $2.4 billion over seven years to provide laptops to all high school students in Years 9–12.
Crook found laptops were of most benefit to physics students, as they could run simulations of scientific theories.
“Currently in the physics syllabus there’s an experiment called Thomson’s experiment, which is about the discovery of the electron,” Crook explained.
“Now, this is mandated as part of the syllabus. That apparatus [needed for the experiment] is very rare in Australian schools. It’s even rarer if it’s intact and working, and even rarer still that the teacher knows how to connect it all up safely and to use it; and even in those extremely rare cases that they do have it, it would be a teacher-directed demonstration.”
“Using a simulation, every student can perform that actual experiment themselves in their own time, either in class, at home, on the way to school even, and can actually learn the experiments, the steps of the experiments and the relative effects, and even calculations within the experiment,” he continued.
“That’s something that you couldn’t do without technology basically, and that example has been cited time and time again, among other examples.”