Innovation Profile 237

The weight of learning

A book weighing two pounds is 0.7% of the weight of an adult. It might be 1.5% of the weight of a child.

A satchel containing several books might amount to 5% or more of a child’s weight. No wonder it can appear that a child is being pulled over backwards by their satchel, as they make their way to school.

For a parent there is another problem with school books, which is the matter of getting them into their son or daughter’s satchel in the morning. Assuming of course that the book was exciting enough to be removed from the satchel the evening before.

What an improvement a small format PC would be. As this is likely to be the child’s route to their Bebo or MySpace account, as well as their school’s digital environment, it will not be misplaced or kicked under the bed. Neither will it be forgotten in the morning.

To an adult, learning is part of life, required for work or undertaken to support leisure activities. Too often for children learning is a separate part of life.

Even if the school itself is seen as a place specifically for learning, rather than a place of enjoyable work and activity, there is no reason why this should be the case for the digital environment. Learning can be only a click away from leisure activities. Discussions with friends may seamlessly move between leisure and learning. The digital environment can be structured and designed to lure and guide young people to areas that promote engaging and profitable activity.

When laptops were the weight of several books, there was a case to be made that we should not ask children to lug laptops to and from, and around school. Now that a child’s computer can be less than the weight of a single book, it is hard to make the case that books should move from school to home and back again.


If you know of examples of innovative use of ICT-for-learning that others would be interested in, please email