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Education

How PDAs Intersect With School 189

An Anonymous Coward writes: "It's never too young to be a yuppie. An engineering professor at the University of Michigan is studying how handheld technology can be incorporated in elementary and high schools. His theory is that PDAs can provide students with a much more interactive and cheaper means of learning than desktop computers. The professor has created a number of interesting applications for using PDAs in school, including a 'cooties' simulator, where students beam around a virus from Palm to Palm and then figure out how it propagated. The New York Times covers the use of PDAs in classrooms here, and Wired News has an article here talking about schools who ban students from carrying PDAs." Both articles focus on Palm OS devices at a school in Ann Arbor, but only the Wired piece points out that the devices were banned there last year.
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How PDAs Intersect With School

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  • by sllort ( 442574 ) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @04:01PM (#2210572) Homepage Journal
    Ann Arbor Open's policy isn't unique: Several schools around the country are banning handheld devices.

    Damn. Busted for carrying an automatic pencil.

    Schools really are getting out of hand.
    • I wonder what they have to say about pocket calculators (graphing calculators or otherwise)...
      • Re:Handheld devices? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Kenyaman ( 458662 )
        I remember graphing calculators being banned in math courses. Lots of math courses are now designed around graphing calculators. You just need to recognize the possible problems with the technology (in the case of graphing calculators, learning to push the buttons without having a clue what's going on), and design your course to make them less of a problem and to use the value of the device (you can graph complex equations, and explain why the graph looks like it does).
  • Where I come from, PDA stands for "Public Display of Affection"...
    • Same here. That brings a new meaning to the 'cooties' simulator, where students beam around a virus from Palm to Palm and then figure out how it propagated.
      Isn't that what sex ed is supposed to prevent?
  • I think he meant "Code Red". :)
  • by PopeAlien ( 164869 ) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @04:05PM (#2210595) Homepage Journal
    ..do you really need a $150 device to spread cooties?

  • All these schools seem to be afraid of change. whether people will admit it or not PDA's are the future notebooks and pencils. In 10-20 years they will most likely replace all notebooks, text books, and writing devices.
    • Notebooks and textbooks yes, but I have *yet* to see anyone that could write in palm-scribble whatever as fast as they could take notes.

      Even if they hand out the folding keyboards, I think it will be problematic. Personally, I can't type on flat keyboards for anything. They have to have spring loaded keys, or else my hands don't work right.
      • You're right about the speed, but having made numerous attempts to 1)find that note I wrote sometime last month about that one really important thing that's lost in a haystack of crapola and to 2)actually ~read~ my handwriting once I find the information, I can see certain advantages to notetaking on a PDA.

      • In 10 years you won't have to use the special Palm letters; heck, in 10 years your PDA will automatically record the lecture and transcribe written notes for your review later.

        Of course, for many teachers it'd be faster to just read the notes in the first place and skip the class - maybe not in grade school, but in HS and college this is often the case. Thus the real reason for schools to fear easy access to computers.

    • I think the schools are finally taking a rational preventative measure here.

      In addition to the more serious problem of students transmitting data (answers) to each other, think of how little schoolwork would get done in school if everyone had minesweeper/solitaire/DOOM at their fingertips :)

      PDAs in schools, like cell phones, are more of a distraction than anything.

  • Why? Because they can. Damn tinpot bureaucrats.
  • It is an interesting idea, the savings over desktops could then go to other activities other than computers. I happen to agree with Leo Laporte that computer labs shouldn't be the primary concern of schools. Computers are very useful tools, but one kids are very often exposed to at home. I think that many schools that are lacking in Art/Music or Athletic departments should consider putting the money into that. Art and health is just as important as technology.
    Maybe by using cheap palmtop devices we can have our cake and eat it too.
    • Or they could invest in *EDUCATION* at the schools. Wasting school dollars on athletics is so much worse than spending on an educational tool such as a computer.
      • That depends on how you define "Education". I think teamwork and good exercise habits are damned important for a growing child to learn. Reading, Writing, and 'Rithmetic aren't the only things that our kids need to be learning.
        • Certainly true, but far too much money goes to sports in the US. The typical public school has a modern outfitted sports program and associated insurance. The same schools typically have rather old books, don't take fields trips, substandard equipment, etc. School is a place to teach children, not to waste money on something most kids to anyway.

          BTW - how many kids do you know that look forward to gym class? What, maybe 5-10% of them? What's the most common complaint about gym classes? Kids get crap beat out of them. How good of my money to get spent on that!

          Or of you want to talk about "after-school sports", as in, those things that kids leave school early for, missing important instruction, why should the school pay for that? Why can't they do what most other clubs do, and raise money for themselves?

          No, I say give money to more important things. I wouldn't want to see sports/athletics/etc taken out of school, but they are NOT, and should not be a priority.
          • Well, first of all, not all schools have greatly funded athletics, mine didn't. I would have loved to wrestle in high-school, but when I was there we didn't have a wrestling team.
            Secondly, where I went to school the Valedictorian was convicted of armed robbery, and we STILL didn't have 90% of the kids getting beat up. And if we did, perhaps the school spending money on equipment for sports that are more supervised than handing the kids a few basketballs and telling them to have at it would help solve things.
            In general though, you bring up very good points. But let's face it, computers shouldn't replace teachers in school. That said, most of the "learning" done on a computer in a school environment is that same point and click nonsense that a kid learns at home on his own computer. Maybe if they were to implement a LOGO workshop or BASIC for higher up kids, I could understand it, but that's not what computers are being used for largely. Largely they are being used to replace other already adequate audio visual tools, and IMHO (and this is by far not a one way issue) it's not really worth it. The cost versus the benefits as applied to how the computers are being utilized right now, just don't add up to me.
          • by Psmylie ( 169236 ) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @04:56PM (#2210862) Homepage
            I agree with you. First of all, what you are "taught" in phys ed is pretty useless. I use math and writing skills every day, but it's been a while since I actually needed to peg someone in the head with a large red ball (although I occasionally do that just for fun).

            If phys ed is going to be taught, it should be more "learning to to take care of yourself" and less "pointless running around". Also, I learned more about teamwork working in pairs in science class then I ever did playing softball, football, etc.

            Maybe it was just my school, but I always thought phys ed was pretty pointless.

            • If phys ed is going to be taught, it should be more "learning to to take care of yourself" and less "pointless running around". Also, I learned more about teamwork working in pairs in science class then I ever did playing softball, football, etc.

              Amen to that. I remember my high school phys ed classes. Change close, stand in line for 5 minutes while the instructer verified that you indeed did change clothes and that they have been washed in the past week. Then it was 45 minutes of running around the lines painted on the floor in the gym, then change and leave. It was easily the most boring class I've ever taken. Apparently alot of the equiptment had been stolen/vanalized over the summer, and the coaches weren't much on thinking up new ideas (and they were all huge track weenies), so every day it was just running.
        • The only problem with that is that a *lot* of schools (esp. those in the midwest USA) seem to think that "teamwork and good exercise habits" are the *only* important thing for a growing child to learn. RR&R seem to get forgotten about in the eternal quest to win the sectionals.
        • Wow, it would have been great to have been taught teamwork and good exercise habits in school. Instead, I learned:

          • that "grading on how hard you tried" means "nobody gets an A unless they're on the football team" (I dunno about your school, but the "official" athletes are always the worst slackers in the one class you'd think they'd do great in, gym)
          • Bigger kids can pound you with impunity
          • a lot of ridiculous technical rules that I've never seen used in pickup games as an adult - who really keeps track of "offsides" in soccer (football) anyway?
          • Square dancing - yeah, there's a team activity that I'll be doing for the rest of my life. They might as well have taught break dancing or the polka.
          • the President's Physical Fitness Challenge - where we learn that gym classes spent playing dodge ball and kickball haven't prepared ethereal to do any appreciable number of push-ups or sit-ups
          • I could go on, but you get the idea.

          I've learned a lot more teamwork and physical fitness from marching band in high school and college than I ever learned from a gym class. A class that teaches kids teamwork and good exercise habits would be great; but a class that teaches football team appreciation, wastes half the time teaching the rules of the game rather than teaching you to throw/catch/whatever, and then still doesn't grade you on how hard you tried is pretty much a waste of time for a kid.

          Can you tell that I'm a little bitter?

    • I happen to agree with Leo Laporte that computer labs shouldn't be the primary concern of schools. Computers are very useful tools, but one kids are very often exposed to at home.

      Many schools are feeling pressured these days towards teaching pragmatic skills rather than the traditional esoteric persuits. As a society we provide schools to young people in order to prepare them for their later roles in life. To this end, schools should reflect the realities of the American life rather than some conceptualized ideal. Schooling is becoming a competitive business and those institutions that can reliably produce graduates with good typing skills will be held in higher regard than those whose graduates understand why Picasso's art was important.

      So it happens that computers are important now. Very important. It makes sense to me that students should get used to using them in a learning environment in the same ways that they'll one day be using them in a work environment. It may be hard to appreciate unless you've seen it, but I marvel whenever I see someone who can't use a computer. Some type at a word or two a minute, others gingerly hold the mouse in their hand as they try multiple times to successfully pull down a menu. It will be up to them to seek additional training at some point, but at the moment they are at a significant disadvantage in comparison to those who are growing up with these skills.

      I think I would've liked going to a school that might have focused on the loftier aspects of academia. But I went to public school and although I might have thrived in a more studious environment, it most certainly would have left many of my peers in the dust. These former classmates of mine are now helping to turn the wheels of our economy and doing so by drawing on only a few of the skills their official education granted them.

      My point is that education is best utilized when it reflects our society as a whole. Since computers have made such inroads into our daily lives, so should they be proportionately placed into our learning environments. Palmtops are pretty popular with a number of people out here in the real world, makes sense that they should appear in our schools.

    • I agree that schools waste money on computers, often buying expensive and stupid hardware or software (and I'm not talking windows here either), for things they don't need. My high school bought G4s for a typing class and left the Computer Art class with Powermacs. Teachers get hardware they don't want because the tech people at the school are stupid. There are G4s that are only on so the teacher can do attendance, but elementry music programs get cut and the art department's budget gets shrinked becuase the district went over budget on stupid computers and cameras and other surveillence devices.

      Of course, the athletic department is fine, no suprise there. Athletics don't need money.

      But what causes these problems that seem to be repeated all across the nation? It's the way we approach education. School administrators and superindendents don't plan, they react (though they do plan their salaries to be giagantic and way too much). Kids are shooting people in school? Lets spend millions on surveillence! The computers aren't good enough for the people who need the computers? Why, lets give every "technology" class G4s, like the typing class, the computer art class would never need better computers that could actually do a lighting render without bombing. The principal's computer isn't working? Buy him a new one! That is what they think, and that is why it will never improve.
  • Isn't this what Calculator Based Laboratories (CBL) and CBR's are for? I don't see the difference except for more of a display with the Palms. Besides, PDA's (and laptops) have no place in elementary schools, and probably middle schools as well. There's so much more you can learn from a teacher than from a monochrome 300x200 screen, no matter what software it's running.

    Teachers in lower education are not there just to get students to learn, they're there to teach life. They're there to teach what type of behavior is acceptable (thus the punishments), to give you an appreciation for music and the fine arts, and encourage you to dream about the future (my elementary school had huge areas for "make believe", quite separate from recess).

    We don't need to add to the already macintosh corrupted elementary schools another little gadget for students to drop and/or lose, just because another company wants to get more exposure. Besides, in my experience, most things up to certain point--about college--can't take advantage of PDA's as planners because that scale of planning just plain isn't needed that young.

    Why is the current trend in education that more technology earlier leads to better results?
  • Obligitory Non-login [nytimes.com] stop making me sign up for everysingle web page I access link..

    So there.
  • banning pda's? (Score:2, Informative)

    by seinman ( 463076 )
    i'm a high school senior and have been using a palm pilot for the last two years. it has done nothing but help me with my studies. how can schools actually BAN such usefull devices??? i understand not allowing games (i have wasted many an hour playing dope wars myself) and making you shut the things up (none of my teachers want it beeping in class) but they also offer such a great educational value that they should not be banned, but instead encouraged.

    • Did it help you to learn proper grammar and punctuation?
    • Re:banning pda's? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LyNXeD ( 463123 )
      While I didn't invest in a Palm (Visor) until a few months after graduating from high school (back in 2000, when I hit the full-time work force as a UNIX admin) I do feel they can be very useful in education. I would rather carry around a Palm device (be it Palm, Visor, etc.) to keep my notes and information in than to carry around a bunch of notebooks. I bought my first Palm back in July of 2000 to replace my Day-Timer before going on a trip. (I did not want to carry around a Day-Timer in the middle of a Texas summer when I could store it all in a Palm and put it in my pocket.)

      Ever since then, I've stuck with the Palm platform, and really like it. You know, take a Visor and combine it with a keyboard (pictures here [handspring.com] and here [handspring.com])and you have one heck of a note-taking machine.

      The experience I had at our high school [clevelandschools.org] is that they wanted to have control of all communications in and out of the building. Here's some examples...

      All Internet (well, actually web) connections were run through a filter/proxy server. They even kept a log of denied attempts, which was given to the principal. (I think those were E-Mailed hourly.) Those who had denied attempts would be called to his office. When he called me down there and accused me of surfing porno and chat sites, I denied it. His response was, "You did it and you know it. Everyone has been denying it, but I know better." I asked him to show me logs of it, and he did, and of all things they were BANNER CGIs from IMG tags that are automatically loaded - duh! I sent him an E-Mail with a link to DALnet's logo, which was blocked by the school, then told him to check the logs and see if there was an entry for him. After that, I don't think anyone was called to his office. (Luckily, telnet wasn't logged or anything, so that always worked in a pinch. Also firewalls didn't block ports there, so we could always put in proxy settings to point to a Linux box a few of us ran - which bypassed the filter totally.)

      As far as phones - all phone communications is done through the school's phone system, again it can be monitored/controlled by the school.

      Sadly enough, the State makes carrying a pager in school a felony. However, they have NO policy on cell phones. Cell phones are banned, but that is local school board policy and not State. They claim that pagers are used for drug dealers (I guess they've never heard of an admin who needs to know about outages.) It's funny how the State bans pagers but not cell phones. If I were a drug dealer, I'd much rather have a cell phone, as it offers two-way communications (whereas most pagers do not.)

      I don't think we were ever able to successfully make a modem connection over the school's phone system either. (I had also tried this at another local school with the same type of phone system and had no luck - I did this when the State decided to block our ISPs netblocks, which is where one of the schools sites is hosted and we were supposed to show it to the parents that day.) I don't know if the inability to make modem connections is on purpose or a side effect of wiring problems, etc.

      But, I've generally noticed that schools want to control all communications in and out. For that one reason, I mostly used SSH when going out of the school network. (In my senior year one of the labs I worked in got a T1 to a local ISP, which had no filtering or stupid policies as the school LAN did.)

      But, how does this all relate to PDAs? I think schools must be afraid that PDAs will offer a channel of communications they cannot control (such as wireless) and they don't like that. My suggestion is that schools deploy some sort of wireless network (802.11b?) and let the students connect their PDAs to that - then they can still sniff/monitor/block what they want.

      I think schools need to address the problems that PDAs may cause (if any) and take care of them individually - instead of just banning PDAs altogether.

  • where students beam around a virus from Palm to Palm and then figure out how it propagated

    Back in seventh grade life science, we did this exact same thing, but without pdas. Basically, the teacher gave each person a small jar with either plain water, or water spiked with some chemical. Then we went around "squirting" water into each other's jars, according to certain rules. Then, with an indicator, we found out who had the "virus", and we traced the origin down to two people: the teacher and me. It turned out to be the teacher.
  • The cult of "buying crap that doesn't fit my lifestyle" may seem strong now, but its members will eventually going to grow old and die off.


    What will happen to gadget computing when people refuse to adjust their lives around an eight ounce hunk of hot-syncable plastic? The threat to the larger economy is palpable.


    A program like this will help assure that gadget companies like this will have a fresh supply of suckers [ridiculopathy.com]- uh, customers for decades to come.

  • The low resolution grayscale screen will prevent childrens from watching porn.

    (I really do always make the same jokes...)
  • by mr ( 88570 ) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @04:11PM (#2210638)
    to be mass marketed was the eMate. The marketing included a teacher mode, networking via IR, and a rugged case with long battery life.

    Many studies were done and a few schools bought them.

    In fact, at a national educators conference on March 3rd, Apple reps said "The Newton is an important part of our product line" Someone pointed out that Apple dropped the line 4 days early on the 27th of Feb, as so the rep had to remove some egg from his face.
  • When I was in High School (class of 2000), a couple people had PDAs so they weren't all that common. However graphing calculators were -everywhere- and used by -everyone-. Of course everyone needed it for math and science classes, right? Did most people use it for that? No.. How was this powerful technology used? Playing games. Don't think that many games exist? Ha. Check out ticalc.org [ticalc.org].

    You wouldn't believe how many teachers complain about students playing those games in class. I mean, uhm, they're doing critical math equations, right? Sure, everyone will use the PDAs enough to show "Hey! I'm using it! It makes my grades better!" when everyone will just be trying to beat their high tetris score.

    -Daniel

    • I had a teacher that insisted that calculators be reset (if you're not familiar with TI-85's, that means all your lovely games and test notes and such are toast) so naturally I wrote a fake reset program. When she caught onto that, she started insisting that the batteries be popped out and in before the test. Little did she know the TI-85 has a little backup battery inside. Ah, I loved that little thing...
      • I had a teacher like that too. But since I had an HP and most people didn't, when she came around, I just went to my 'Library' and showed her that there was nothing there. And of course she didn't know the difference between 'Library' and 'Mem[ory]'.

        (If you're not familiar with the HP, all your games are usually under the 'Mem[ory]' option, and on the 48G which I had, the Library was always blank because it couldn't take memory cards).
    • ...though not in any legitimate way...

      Why the heck should I be bothered to memorize a bunch of stupid polyatomic ions for a stupid high school chem class??? I ended up with an A in chemistry , so I obviously knew what to do with them when I saw them.

      God bless the TI-82.

  • One of the most common student uses of a hand-held computer is to keep track of assignments and grades.

    ..Uh-huh.. Yeah Mom, I'm keeping track of my grades [palm-games.com]

  • OK, first let me say that banning a PDA is just stupid. Don't punish the many students who use them in a good way just because a few misuse them. On the other hand, I don't think schools should require laptops or PDA's for studies. Realistically, we don't need that much technology for each student in a high school. We need to focus money on getting teachers who don't say things like "ewww, math is hard, I hate math." The problem with education is the educators and the problem with the educators is that smart people don't want to go to college and come out with a job that pays less than a garbage man's salary. Anyway, my point is that PDA's can be good but instead of mounting an initiative to get every kid a PDA, why don't we focus on getting better, higher paid teachers.
  • I own a Palm IIIxe myself, and use it extensively in college for keeping track of phone numbers and assignments. Many of the points raised as to why Palms are distractions (which were also refuted) are in fact not very true. The main point -- games -- is laughable if you've ever played a Palm game. Despite the fact that the graphics aren't good at all, they're just not exciting when you're controlling them though stylus strokes. I have a couple, and they are absolutely last resort -- if your students play PDA games, you're *really* boring them.

    And it's true that beaming shouldn't be a fear at all... if the teachers would actually look into it, they'd realize that Palms can only beam when they're pointed right at each other, and are within (I think) 3 feet. Not to mention the beeping. That would make it kind of tough to beam answers without being blatantly obvious.

    Palms are great for organization -- but for cheating and entertainment, not so much.
    • Despite the fact that the graphics aren't good at all, they're just not exciting when you're controlling them though stylus strokes. I have a couple, and they are absolutely last resort -- if your students play PDA games, you're *really* boring them.

      You seem to reject the fact that Solitaire and Freecell are some of the most popular and time-consuming games in the world. Secondly, let's fac it; school is going to be boring sometimes. It's *work*, and it requires that students be attentive and focused in order for them to learn. They may not like it, but most learning is not a matter of osmosis. It is done with rote drilling, practice and study. Trying to make every learning lesson "fun and exciting" will not make people smarter.

      ...at each other, and are within (I think) 3 feet.

      Blah, blah, blah. Most kids sit near people they like, therefore they're probably beaming things with people near them, thus your argument is moot.

      Not to mention the beeping.

      You've obviously never found the *sound preferences* on your Palm before...

      but for cheating and entertainment, not so much.

      Play a bit of "DopeWars" and then come tell me that Palms aren't good for entertainment. I will then take the opportunity to smack you.
      • let's fac it; school is going to be boring sometimes.

        Right. And whether or not they have a Palm, they're going to find some way to "amuse" themselves. I've seen people (without PDAs) just sit and doodle, or just fall asleep in classes. The PDA isn't the problem, the problem is just that people are bored. And if bored, they will find a way to be not bored.

        Most kids sit near people they like, therefore they're probably beaming things with people near them, thus your argument is moot.

        Well, sort of. Maybe they can in fact beam, but that doesn't warrant banning PDAs altogether. People can pass notes but we don't ban paper. Forbid students from having PDAs out during tests -- many schools have that rule with graphing calculators. Graphics calculators can help people cheat on tests, but they don't get banned completely from school.

    • And it's true that beaming shouldn't be a fear at all... if the teachers would actually look into it, they'd realize that Palms can only beam when they're pointed right at each other, and are within (I think) 3 feet. Not to mention the beeping. That would make it kind of tough to beam answers without being blatantly obvious.

      Cheating IS an ISSUE... You can beam WITHOUT beeping... If a program is not available yet, students could easily write a palm app to help too. And this is not even considering if Bluetooth can make it to the market, and you remove any line-of-sight problems...

    • Your talking about a generation of people who have tomiguchi(sp). So clearly there is game potential. but that is realy a secondary concern.
      Beeping can be halted, and I would bet youare sitting within 3 feet of somebody.

      plus some of them can send recieve email, and picture. snap a picture of the question, send it to someone with a book, then they return with the answer. How many students would pay 5 bucks to get an A? many. kids have a great capacity for creative thinking and problem solving, while not being held down by convention the way adults in the corp. world are. This is really great, and needs to be cultivated, but this can lead to findng clever ways to cheat. Now the first kid who discovers a way to cheat should be lavishly rewarded. All the ones that just copy his cheat need to be disciplined.
      Unfortunatle with the ever increasing wide spread use of high quality wireless technology it becomes very difficult, if not impossible, to detect its use.

  • Preface: My wife and I are planning to home school.

    I picked up some fourth and fifth grade readers at an antique store about a year ago, all of which readers dating from the thirties and forties. All of them have the student reading literature and doing composition the likes of which I didn't reach with my 1980's public education until high school.

    It's debates like this drivel-- whether high tech better facilitates the pathetic education that we're giving kids-- that make me really happy that we're home schooling.
    • I've been taught in public, private, and home school environments, and plan to home school my children. I want to pursue similar ideas with mathematics at an early age (I've been testing them on my younger siblings - my then-five year old sister was beating me at blackjack regularly). Do you have any sources of information on these (unfortunately now considered) advanced learning paths for literature or computers?
  • by uqbar ( 102695 )
    The Chicago Schools have been an (unwilling) testing ground for a wireless, 'viral' handheld game called Pox [nytimes.com]. Basically it's a variation of the old Pokemon thing, except that it's wireless and electronic. The NYTimes article points out that the secrecy factor is part of what makes it popular - you can play it across the room w/o anyone else knowing. More amusing in the context of this article is the ways that the toymaker and kids try to justify the 'educational' value of the game.
  • There are many more important things for children in elementary school to be learning which do not require a PDA, or for that matter, a computer. The US is badly trailing the rest of the world in the education of critical areas such as science and math, so the focus early on should be fundamentals. Teach children a firm foundation in mathematics and science concepts and later on in school, after some interest is cultivated, bring in the "toys".

    When I think back to my days in elementary school and the classmates I had, I would say that >85% of them would just monkey around with this for a few minutes, maybe think it was cool, and then move on without learning a damn thing. Gimmicks are not the right way to pursue education of young children, or old ones either for that matter.

  • by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @04:20PM (#2210684) Homepage
    Why don't they just bite the bullet and replace students with computers? They'd behave perfectly, learn at 100% efficiancy, and never skip class to smoke in the playground.

    On a more serious note, the easier you make learning, the less learning remains as a primary goal of the human psyche. The goal should be to make learning difficult things personally rewarding, not fun and easy. Fun and comfort is being luaded as the primary experience for any activity, over personal gratification after hard, unpleasant work. It's akin to making your vitamins sugary; if for some reason the sugar isn't there some day, you're likely to pick the comfort of not tasting those nasty vitamins over taking the vitamins, because you just wouldn't appreciate the experience of doing something difficult in order to achieve the goal of .. well, staying alive, in this case.

    Thanks to iced cappuccinnos, I have friends who've totally recinded any consumption of milk .. they're so not used to it, they think it's disgusting. They might admit that they know milk is good for you, but that doesn't outweigh the initial uncomfortability of getting used to milk (again).
  • ...because when thrown, PDAs can be considered a deadly weapon.

    And have you seen that stylus? You'll put your eye out, kid.
  • Okay, when I went to school people brought NES carts to trade/loan with others and just to generally show off. One day some kid beats up another kid to steal his cart. What is the school's reaction? Just ban the possession of NES carts at school. Ignore the problem - it will go away.

    So when the advent of the pager and cell phone come around, they ban those as well. At my school the line was that pagers and cell phones could be used by drug dealers, so rather than crack down on the drugs, just ban the pagers so at least they can ignore the issue (my school also banned hats - they can be "gang related"). Granted, the class interruption notion is pretty legitimate - simply put, there shouldn't be anything in a high school student's life that's worth being paged or called in the middle of the day about - these are school children, for Christ's sake.

    Therefore, the next logical move is to ban PDA's as well. They're kinda like pagers. They're kinda like games. They're gonna get stolen, so just ban them. Kinda like when your ISP bans you from running a web server - they're only going to go after you if it becomes a problem. You can have a PDA at these schools, just keep it hidden.

    These schools will un-ban PDA's when they can be used usefully - which is why the first bit of this story is good. Why would you need to know appointments in shcool? Your appointment is school. Period. But of course you could keep homework assignments in there and so forth.

    This will of course lead to the "my dog ate my batteries" defense.

    Schnapple
    • >Granted, the class interruption notion is pretty legitimate - simply put, there shouldn't be anything in a high school student's life that's worth being paged or called in the middle of the day about - these are school children, for Christ's sake.

      Actually, my junior and senior year of high school, I was the only technician for a local ISP. As such, I had a pager. Of course, my school wouldn't allow me to have it in school, even on silent mode, so I left it in the car. There were a few days where everything died and they ended up calling the school's office so I could tell them how to fix it.

      So, there are some legitimate uses of pagers in school. Now cell phones are a bit extreme.
    • If I were a bunch of horny 15-year-old gangster wannabes, I would totally try to get my pants to be gang-related. It's amazing what lengths people will go to to avoid facing the real issues...

  • by ioman1 ( 474363 )
    Beam me up Scotty, Ioman is entering your PDA!
  • This is along the same lines as the folks who thought Sesame Street, by combining mildly educational material with highly visual and dynamic entertaining material, could increase a childs desire to learn. Studies have shown the opposite to be true. Sesame Street teaches children to love learning only if it is presented like Sesame Street. It's also along the same lines as the teacher who combined rap music in his classroom to help his students learn the gettysburg address, or the teacher who used rock music to teach his students about our founding fathers. Its rubbish, not to mention very expensive.
  • by apirkle ( 40268 )
    All too often, we get so carried away with the "this is neat" aspect of ideas that we forget to ask: Is this really a good idea?


    Technology is really neat, it has tons of wonderful applications... but, you can't just throw technology at a problem for the sake of using technology.


    When I first got a TI-85 in 8th grade, it was a really neat toy. I found that I could load all sorts of games on it, like Tetris and Galaxian. That calculator got used for games far more than it got used for schoolwork. Did it ever help me learn more about math, or get better at math? Nope. In fact, it probably hurt my skills at arithmetic.


    Then, I went off to college. Classes were more intense and interesting, so I had less cause to play games and daydream. You don't have so much busywork, so even in math and science classes there is rarely a need for a calculator at all; you do all your work, and then sometimes at the end of a problem you'll plug a few numbers in the calculator to get a final answer.


    Kids in school should be learning to think, not how to play with shiny toys.

  • by _Mustang ( 96904 ) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @04:32PM (#2210746)
    I think that would be a much better question. The reality seems to be that we have a totally disfunctional group running the educational system with little or no effort made to coordinate the various levels together to provide a comprehensive education.

    1. Interactive (but not-computer) devices being banned from preschool/Kindergarden/grade school children.
    2. Middleschool/Highschools banning HP-type calculators and handheld-type devices.
    3. Universities that claim to be intellectual bastions of free-thinking; but then go out of their way to lock students into proprietary and expensive software.

    Wasn't the whole promise of the "Information Age" and the digital revolution to begin the process of seeding ideas *before* the kids get set in their ways? It's only when the inventions of the previous generation become the *standards* for the next generation that real breakthrough bubble up.
    Refusing to integrate these potentially educationally-rich technologies is a huge failure.

    It seems that it's these supposed "educators" who need to learn a thing or two.
    • Schools have always been behind the times. They can't afford to stay very current!

      Hardware costs money, learning software takes time, and since time costs money(when you're being paid),

      $ + $ = 2$ (2-much)
    • 1. Interactive (but not-computer) devices being banned from preschool/Kindergarden/grade school children.

      These get banned when kids make irritating Tamagochi-type beeping noises instead of learning to spell. Yes, young kids should be continually be taught by extremely talented teachers who know all about the latest technology and who have MS degrees in human factors (in addition to their MS in education), but that's a tough one to make happen.

      2. Middleschool/Highschools banning HP-type calculators and handheld-type devices.

      People (kids) need to know how to do math (etc.) without electronic assistance. Having spent several years teaching freshmen how to do calculus and extract analytical information from graphs (plots of experimental data, etc.; I taught physics), I can assure you that forcing people to do these things by hand teaches allows them to learn much more quickly than they would with the assistance of snazzy calculators and Mathematica. In fact, my worst students were often the ones with the nicest calculators.

      Refusing to integrate these potentially educationally-rich technologies is a huge failure. It seems that it's these supposed "educators" who need to learn a thing or two.

      If your current teachers are so lousy, vote for more money for education and property tax increases and the like. How many of you (us?) /. libertarians would really get behind such an idea? (end of rant)

    • 1. Interactive (but not-computer) devices being banned from preschool/Kindergarden/grade school children.

      2. Middleschool/Highschools banning HP-type calculators and handheld-type devices.
      GOOD. All us tech-heads are having orgasms falling over each other trying to get kids hooked on our ghee-whiz useless device of the week. Kids don't need goddamn PDAs for crying out loud. Kids don't need damn LAPTOPs in the classroom (well, except maybe computer-related classes) for chrissake. I mean, the teacher is RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF YOU. What next, give each student VR goggles! Hey it's VIRTUAL SCHOOL! Whoopdeefuck. My god, all kids did in my school was fucking goof off all the time - I mean, even *hats* were disallowed because they are too distracting to the attention deficit generation. Now we want to give them handheld video game/chat devices?

      Schools need high quality teachers, and full funding for adequate (legitimate) supplies (like, um, textbooks [no, not eBooks], lab equipment, etc., not expensive toys. Man, everybody needs to get their head out of the fumes of the tech bong.
  • "My dog ate my PDA"

  • "Mrs. Doe,
    We regret to inform you that your daughter Jane flushed a classmate's PDA down the toliet at school today. If you will refer to the fine print at the bottom of the permission form you signed allowing little Jane to use PDA services in class, you will see a clause that puts a child's guardian or parent in a position of liablity for any and all damages caused by the aformentioned child. you will recieve a bill shortly of approximately 200$ for the product plus labor costs. Failure to pay this in a timely fashion will result in little Jane being put in a PDA-Free special-ed classroom. thanks so much for your cooperation.
    sincerely, board of education, Podunk USA"

    i know for a fact that if the school system issued Palm devices in local highschools, the pawn shops around here would get flooded in about a week with dozens of the gadgest...screw the new toys, sell 'em and buy me a better calculus teacher =)
  • Cheap? (Score:2, Funny)

    by amanb ( 197498 )
    Handheld computers have an advantage over desktop PCs or laptops in that they are small enough to be carried anywhere and relatively inexpensive -- "the cost of a pair of tennis shoes," Soloway said

    What kind of tennis shoes do these school kids use?
  • High Tech Note Passers....shyeah right! Have these folks EVER used a IR port on one of these? If the desks are separated as they should be, then this won't be a problem. I see more of a problem in letting Cybiko's [cybiko.com] or wireless ethernet cards in class! :) Cybiko's have a built in peer to peer network!


    Gork!

  • My high school banned anything that seemed like technology, and they had very good reasons for doing it. The main reasons were what the articles mentions: theft and disruptiveness.

    Image if many students carried palms around...hardly any would be paying attention. Even without pda's, if you walk into a math class, half the class is playing games on calculators.

    However, I do think that schools should use technology like pda's to help students learn. Schools can ban students from bringing their own, but still allow students to use pda's at times appropriate to the lessons.
  • Software like dictionaries, graphing calculators, e-books and thermometers can be downloaded onto the Palms and used to simplify studying and classroom participation.

    That's why English was so tough. I never remembered to bring my thermometer! :)

  • This seems to be a popular topic recently, UCSD is researching uses for student PDAs on a wide scale. I believe several hundred UCSD freshman in CS are going to be semi-permanently "loaned" HP Journada PDAs in order to participate in this experiment on a wider scale.. cool stuff check here for more info: http://www.calit2.net/education/activeweb.html [calit2.net]
  • I don't quite understand the problem with kids having games on their PDAs. If Jenny sits in the back the class playing Quake on her Linux-running iPAQ and "misses out" on the lecture, isn't that just her problem? Sure, it's disruptive if she moves with the character and grunts and stuff, but it's not like "disruptive behavior" is particularly new. Frankly, beaming notes around seems a lot less annoying than the old "PSSST! Pass this on!" method.

    I thought the kid who turned on the class TV with IR program was pretty cool until I realized he got caught. How the hell did he let that happen?

    RC
  • My parents are both teachers in a local British boys school, and they both think computers are the biggest waste of resources possible.

    Both work in the 'Information Resource Centre' (i.e. the library) where sixteen PCs are networked together as an 'information resource', according to President Tony Blair's grand new view of 'A computer on every child's desk' (hmmm, reminds me of another megalomaniac....). The theory is that the kids learn about the computers and how to use them in order to prepare them for the real world which (apparently) has computers everywhere. The truth of the matter is that the boys download tons of porn and set it up to appear as backgrounds on other users' accounts. The school ran out of money for a competent sysadmin and the current poor soul doesn't know how to manage his own arse, never mind the pitted ingenuity of dozens of horny teenagers.

    Even as an 'information resource' (gak - horrible phrase!) the Web is basically shit for any reasonably detailed material. Yes it's fun to surf, but when I *really* need to check facts, I go off to a library and get it out of a dead tree tome. Books are critically reviewed, the web is not. GIGO en masse, and most importantly:

    1 computer == 50 books.

    Palms will only be used for playing games/gossiping/switching the TV on and off when the lesson gets boring, and there are always times when playing *any* game, no matter how crappy and pixellated, will be preferable to listening to a lesson.

    Grr, I need a cup of coffee.
    • the Web is basically shit for any reasonably detailed material.

      That may be the case, but it's a wonderful resource for getting started and finding out where else to look for information.

      As an example: in an internal newsgroup at my ISP someone mentioned a relatively recent surgery in India that got a bit of press, in which a woman had some horns removed from her head. There was enough information in the article for a google search on "sebaceous horn" [google.com], which immediately gave me a list of sites with information on the wide variety of conditions that can cause the problem, as well as some photos that just prove that the kid next door's multiple piercings are far from the wierdest thing that can happen to a body.

      Sure I could have gone to the library and spent a while digging through medical references for detailed information, but with a few keystrokes I instead had summaries and articles with bibliographies that would give me a much better chance of finding that extra detail if I really wanted it.

    • the Web is basically shit for any reasonably detailed material. Yes it's fun to surf, but when I *really* need to check facts, I go off to a library and get it out of a dead tree tome.

      I find that hard to swallow. If you want to research stuff that has been around for a while. Sure, the library is proabaly a better resourse. But what if you want to reseach something recent? No better place than the web.

      And yes, the web dosn't have a much credibility as dead tree material. But that's oneof neat things about the web. Anyone can publish on it, so you get to see more different perspectives.

  • by SkewlD00d ( 314017 ) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @05:13PM (#2210933)
    Just what kids need... another excuse to not pay attention to class.

    <rant>
    Maybe education researchers should get off their collective asses and encourage real teaching instead of promoting "Let's watch a film now class." teaching abdication to mass-media and tech wiz-bang nonsense. Having computers solves nothing, in fact, some studies show computers take valuable teaching time away from teachers. I guess they want an open-source teacher-emulation hologram in all the schools, so they don't have to pay those under-paid and under-respected teachers. Poo on them! Academics of the world unite!
    </rant>

    SkewlD00d
  • They even forgot to mention that the hardware is already there. Every single high school student has his own PDA to help him (and surprise, even her) to cheat on school tests. Actually these little machines help students immensely already.

  • by JWhitlock ( 201845 ) <John-Whitlock@iee[ ]rg ['e.o' in gap]> on Thursday August 23, 2001 @05:17PM (#2210954)
    Here's from the Wired article:

    "I have no data, but I believe kids will read more on the Palm than they do on books because Palms are their generation," said Elliot Soloway, a professor in the college of engineering and school of education at the University of Michigan.

    "Books are Perry Como's generation.... The children don't see the Palm as a computer, they see the Palm as media. Media is hot. Media is exciting. That's why they're going to participate in the reading."

    Soloway, who is studying Palm handheld programs in schools, said that in order for "computing technology" to be effective in class instruction, there must be enough hardware for all the students, teachers must know how to use it, and administrators and parents must be supportive of the curriculum that incorporates it.

    Handheld computers have an advantage over desktop PCs or laptops in that they are small enough to be carried anywhere and relatively inexpensive -- "the cost of a pair of tennis shoes," Soloway said.

    "As long as the computers are down the hall and up the stairs to the lab, they are irrelevant to education," Soloway said.

    This guy sounds like one of the pie-in-the-sky technologists that loves tech for the sake of tech, and is unwilling to recognize reality. Now, it that because he is, or because Wired is so pro-tech that everything that passes by their editors sounds that way?

    To pick apart his statements:

    No, kids won't read more just because it is on a handheld computer. Some kids read with their spare time, others do other things. If I was a kid with a handheld computer, I might read, but more likely I would be installing games or other fun apps. I might even have fun writing games for others to play. But reading? Given the book or the e-book, I'll take the book, until e-book tech gets a bit better.

    One advantage, though, is that "Penthouse Forum" looks the same as "Tom Saywer", at least from 10 ft away. Maybe kids will read more...

    Soloway then says that if all kids had one, and if all the teachers knew how to use them effectively, and if the parents were behind the curiculum, then they would be useful in the classroom. Well, the same could be said for gym equipment, musical instruments, textbooks, lab equipment, or computers. The fact that this isn't the case for a majority of students is why education is in so much trouble - hand-held computers might just make it worse.

    Handheld computers are as cheap as a pair of shoes? Maybe, but not any I wore as a kid... My family had to save money, so I got other kid's hand-me-downs, wore shoes til they fell apart (and were already well out of fashion), and generally wore clothes that kept me from being naked. I was aware of the kids who had the newest and most expensive clothes, and that is was a status symbol. Handheld computers would have to be the same across the board (All Visors, for instance, instead of some Visors, some Visor Prisms, and some Visor Edges), and the parents would bitch and moan - "If Johnny wants the orange one with 16MB rather than the ugly black one with 8MB, then why can't he have it? It interacts with the cheaper ones!!!" Just like in the workplace, hand-helds are a status symbol, just a more expensive one.

    Please, let's not put a computer in every classroom. Please, put them down the hall. I have never met a computer program that could teach better than a teacher. Mathematica and Matlab are no substitute for a good math teacher. Shockwave Shakespeare is no substitute for a good English Teacher. Dance Dance Revolution is no substitute for a good Phys. Ed. teacher. Axis and Allies is no substitute for a good history teacher. Hell, even Microsoft Visual Studio and gcc are no substitute for a good programming teacher. Computers are tools, but they are limited tools, and the programs are expensive, and can't replace a good teacher. Let's keep the computers down the hall, where they belong, irrevlevant to education.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    No, not because of most school's idiocy of, "ONLY DRUG DEALERS HAVE PAGERS AND CELLPHONES!" (Yesss. Come my children, the first cup's free! *deals some coffee*)..

    Have you ever sat in a movie theatre, watching, in almost dead silence, none of the audience making any sound, in anticipation, on the edge of your seat, watching a young Russian soldier lining up a German in his sites.. Closer.. Closer.. The screen fades onto his trigger finger.. and...

    (Some stupid ass top-40 crap ringtone sounds from someone's cellphone.)

    Argh. Though more annoying while trying to watch Enemy at the Gates, I'm sure it'd be damned annoying in a classroom.

    But PDA's? The hell is that about?

    Jeez. You'd think the schools would *want* to teach organization skills and such.

    Then again, maybe that's why most colleges put freshman through one of those anal seminars where they teach you how to be organized. :)

    I tell you, though, my kids will be homeschooled until college. Primary to secondary education in this country is turning into a haven of idiocy.

    Then again.. What can one expect from the people who brought you the DMCA(tm)?
  • Sounds to me like some professor got conned into buying his kid a PDA on the pretext of how this would help his child in school. PDAs are however banned at the local high school. Professor/daddy considers this an insult to his intelligence and goes about finding/creating legitimate uses for the PDA in class.

    As someone who went to school during the transition between calculators being banned and calculators being required, this is interesting. If nothing else at least making the "wrong" OS choice for my child on a PDA is cheaper than on a notebook computer!

  • Morons- All Of You! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LionKimbro ( 200000 ) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @05:18PM (#2210961) Homepage

    Sorry to be so blatant.

    I've seen people do so many silly things, make so many foolish arguments, all for the sake of their beloved status symbol, the Palm Pilot.

    Don't you on with your "Luddite" name-calling! I happen to be a software developer, with hoards of languages behind me, and I'm young (25). I know all about what technology can and can't do, and I Love nothing more than to see good tech advance..

    And I'm saying that this here PDA thing is a load of CRAP. Give it 10-15 years, and I'll look at it again. But right now, there's no good reason to shell out $150 for something that's going to pull you backwards in your education.

    I had a student once [taoriver.net] who insisted on spending hoards of time loading his books for class into his Palm Pilot. He copiously took notes into his Palm- a couple sentances by the end of a four hour lecture, and we'd have to hold up class so that he could cram them in there with his stylus. He'd go on and on about the amazing advantages and all the things it could do. While I Love this guy, and he's a good friend- What a fruitcake! He bought the whole Tech=Good thing hook, line, and sinker. Held up class, and held up his own learning. All over a technology fetish.

    PDA's are a fad, for the most part. Sure, there are valid uses, and they can really help out in certain areas in our life. But for the most part, it's a fruity fad.

    Want to advance your education? Buy your books, and then write in them.

    Want to advance your education? Learn, and then think about the things you learned.

    TWO THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED YEARS ago, Confucius had all the technology he needed to wisely note that studying without thinking is a waste, and thinking without study is a disaster.

    If you can so much as get students to think about what they learn and connect it with the world they live in, you'll be far better off than you will by having them nonsensically scribbling on a palm, and they'll learn far more.

    Thank you Slashdot once again for reminding me why I'm home schooling my daughter.



    • by q-soe ( 466472 ) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @05:38PM (#2211056) Homepage
      You have a right to your opinion and i think that in the example you mention you are justified.

      However there is the other side to the coin - i work as an IS manager and have half a dozen remote sites to support. I use my palm Vx extensively and so do my staff - they are admittedly not the most practical thing for taking notes with (yuck) but they have a great many good uses.

      I have the follwing stuff i use every day in mine (and my staff have most of it too)
      - Database of file extensions (usefull as hell)
      - Database of cable / termination / cable maps
      - Netork database with all site info
      - Database of common fault types in our environment
      - All hone and contact numbers for all offices
      - Patch panel diagrams for all sites
      - Router configs for sites
      - We can download current calls from our call database and take them with us
      - Various database on applications etc

      I also have a few games and half a dozen books (1984, Brave newq world, etc - what i feel like reading) and can download my mail and jot small qucik notes when onsite - as well as syncing with my out look

      The best thing is that all of this software we use is freeware (bar one database program we bought licenses for) we can convert anything into a PDB file by using isoloweb (www.isilo.com) and we use a number of database aps to create smalll database for them - its quick and easy and bloody usefull - and the best thing is with all of it in my palm including meg launcher, a dozen hacks and games i still have 4mb of the 8mb memory free.

      My staff dont lug notebooks out to sites unless they have to (and thats very seldom, and i dont need to lug my notebook home each nght (i have my latest emails on it and all my contacts)

      In short i think the palm is incredily usefull - and i am a person who thought they were over priced toys - dont forget that just because you meet one moron that all the other people are neccesarily morons (otherwise i would never have used linux - you should have met the first guy i knew with that :) )
    • PDA's are a fad, for the most part. Sure, there are valid uses, and they can really help out in certain areas in our life. But for the most part, it's a fruity fad.

      Yeah, just like cell phones.

      I agree with you when it comes about having them in school. I think a laptop is a much better idea for learing/working on.

      PDA's are just PDA's, that is Personal Digital Assistants. They take reminders, calanders, keep all you contacts at hand, remember important dates, keep notes for you. Carry you e-mail. and then copy it back to your computer without you having to type anything. + much more since you can install programs on them.
      So they are useful. But not realy suited for the classroom, since they aren't realy made to be a input device.
      Taking a note? No problems. But writing down a lecture and doing research? A laptop or paper would be much better.

    • I had a student once [taoriver.net] who insisted on spending hoards of time loading his books for class into his Palm Pilot. He copiously took notes into his Palm- a couple sentances by the end of a four hour lecture, and we'd have to hold up class so that he could cram them in there with his stylus. He'd go on and on about the amazing advantages and all the things it could do. While I Love this guy, and he's a good friend- What a fruitcake! He bought the whole Tech=Good thing hook, line, and sinker. Held up class, and held up his own learning. All over a technology fetish.

      Excuse me, but I never heard anyone try to tell me my PDA was great for taking four hour's worth of notes with the stylus! They have these things calls KEYBOARDS which fit into the PDA's, and which fold up very nicely when finished. You might recommend one to your students.

      PDA's are a fad, for the most part. Sure, there are valid uses, and they can really help out in certain areas in our life. But for the most part, it's a fruity fad.

      Jeez, what's with the use of 'fruit' as a way of describing things. That's twice now in to paragraphs. Are you trying to tell us something?

      PDA's are a fad... yeah. That's like saying rolodexes are a fad, day-planners are a fad, cell phones are a fad, and computers are a fad. Because that's what PDA's are right now... all those things rolled into one, and often times, much more.

      Want to advance your education? Buy your books, and then write in them.

      Or you could read a book in a PDA/eBook, write notes in the margin, click on new words to find their definitions, save bookmarks to important pages, and search the entire text of all your books within seconds.

      You know, technology DOES have a place in education!

      Thank you Slashdot once again for reminding me why I'm home schooling my daughter.

      You better hope you don't screw up!

      Otherwise, she might come out a little fruity.
  • As an example:

    The math 12 cirriculum here in British Columbia requires students to use graphing calculators for their work. However, I believe that these actually impeded the learning process.

    In my grade 12 math class last school year, the students who did best on the government (final) exam were those who used their calculator the least. The reason for this being is those that did not use their calculators except when absolutely necessary actually learned the thought processes and fundamental concepts that were required to solve the problems. The ones who used calculators the most just got used to punching in numbers in to the calculator and getting an answer, the concepts did not really sink in.

    Come exam time, many of the questions tested the students' understanding of the concepts. Those who relied on their calculators did poorly.

    I thinkt that using these PDA's in the classrom, while being a cool gimmick, will do little to help the kids actually learn the concepts they are there to learn. Sure beaming around a virtual virus is fun, but will kids actually learn about how viruses spread? or will they just learn to punch buttons on their PDA?
  • Then: Tag! Your it.

    Now: I logged 38 tag attempts today, and successfully evaded becoming "it" 17 times.

    Then: When I grow up, I want to be a banker like my father.

    Now: Stop pulling my hair, Bobby! You almost screwed up my limit price.

    Then: You've got cooties.

    Now: I've got cooties? Is it cooties 3.0, or cooties 3.1?

    Then: Evel Kneivel jumped the Grand Canyon! Pass it on.

    Now: Oh no, not the Evel Kneivel spam again!!!

  • Wrong Problem! (Score:1, Interesting)

    The articles talk about how they are worried that borred students will use the Palm Pilots to play games and pass notes. I think we are looking to shallow, here is a news flash, borred students have passed notes and found other ways to stay awake (doodling) since the beginnings of school.What we need to do is figure out Why are our students borred in the first place! Don't take away all the things students can do besides class, make class more interesting so students want to be involved. We need to look into getting students more involved in there studies, make them actually enjoy class and want to go. I know everyone has had atleast one teacher in there life who you couldn't get them to skip there class for anything... telling your mom you can't go to the doctors on tuesdays because that is your fun Science (Math, English, etc...) class. We need to strive to make all classes more exciting, ask students what they think of their teachers... and actually do something about it... If a teacher gets 3 years in a row of students saying he is borring then FIRE HIM OR HER! Give bonuses to teachers who students give high scores to. is this unfair? I don't think so... the only teachers who will complain are the ones the students hate anyways. Consider students as customers, any company who has an employee repeatedly fail to make the customer happy is going to fire that employee. Why not schools too?
  • Why the Hell not? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @06:59PM (#2211389) Homepage Journal
    My son has a requirement, as in requirement to get a TI-83Plus. If students can get that functionality plus any other PDA benefit such as their own Avantgo channel then why not. What are you complaining about? If they beam a list of the weeks assignments to it or a list of resources for where to get information I figure its paid for itself then and there.
  • I've just got to comment on this one. I'm a math/science teacher starting my first year in about two weeks. PDA's have got to be the worst idea ever. Calculators are the worst idea ever. Some specific points to make:

    Number 1:
    How many students can actually add/subtract/multiply/divide without having to turn to a calculator? Very few, and sticking more computers and PDA's into the classroom won't solve anything.

    I've taught math classes using graphing calculators. Yes, they can do things nice and pretty and quick. There are two problems. The first is a practical one -- every single class the students have to be shown over again how to use the calculator. Second, they may know how to produce a box-and-whisker plot by pressing the right buttons, but do they have any deeper understanding of what they're doing and why they're doing it? Not really.

    Number 2:
    It's a whole lot easier for administrators to get their picture taken in a brand new computer lab with lots of stuff to show off, than it is for them to get their picture taken next to a brand new, innovative, and ground-breaking curriculum. We can't really expect the public to demand anything else. People are a lot more content when money is spent on something tangible that they can see.

    Number 3:
    Suppose we've got every student plugging away at their PDAs. Where's the collaboration? Group learning? Student-led learning? All I can see are a bunch of solitary students going through the motions on a device.

    There's no disadvantage to having students work with (gasp!) pencil and paper and to work in groups, without depending on these external devices. Confidence (and academic performance) increases when students realize that they have knowledge and ability beyond a device.

    Number 4:
    Computers are tools; they're good tools. But we have to remember that they're just that. They don't "make" students learn. They may help develop understanding, but they certainly don't cause students to learn.

    We have to require teachers to stick to their chalk. If we don't, it's all downhill from here.
  • Gah, Anonymous Coward should read the next article about education.
  • All the rage among younger students is the Cybiko, which is sort of a combo game system and PDA. The killer part of the Cybiko, however, is that it can become part of a wireless network made up of other Cybikos. Each can broadcast a signal up to 300 feet, but a school full of them creates a network that covers the entire school.

    And the killer app: chatting! Well, that an wireless gaming. I can understand why teachers would want to get rid of these things. And they only cost $99 or so--with constant special offers--so they're easy to get. Neat hardware, though.

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