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Education United States

The Future of Technology in Schools 272

citking writes "The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is running parts one and two of a three-part series dealing with the future of technology in America's schools. Part one asks whether technology in schools is merely a fad or, as some may argue, a necessity in today's technology-driven society. It raises some interesting points, such as the contrasting the wide availability of computers in schools to the generally limited use among students. Part two goes in-depth about the technology's cost, citing the dependence of grants that are disappearing and the effects of reducing technology staff. For part three you will have to tune in the the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tomorrow."
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The Future of Technology in Schools

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  • by schestowitz ( 843559 ) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @04:36AM (#13377749) Homepage Journal
    such as the contrasting the wide availability of computers in schools to the generally limited use among students

    When you pay over $1000 per MS-based machine, that may be true. But as shows, students in Indiana will have their own Linux box at school: .php []
    • by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @05:51AM (#13377909) Homepage Journal
      That doesn't address the question at all, namely why students don't use the available computers.

      I think the reason is very simple: people like to work in private (thus not at school), with things arranged in their own way (thus at home), and with their own software and settings (which school computers often don't allow).

      Whether the computers at school run Linux or Windows, and if they cost three hundred or three thousand dollars is completely irrelevant, except, of course, in cas the computers at school have some software that students need but is expensive for them to have at home. And guess what? Those are the cases where you do see students using the computers at school.
      • I think the reason is very simple: people like to work in private (thus not at school), with things arranged in their own way (thus at home), and with their own software and settings (which school computers often don't allow).

        That's actually a good rationale, but you still have to consider that there are a number of homes still without computers, most of whom are low income households. Case in point, I was a collegiate athlete at a university with a computer requirement if you stayed on campus. Out of

      • by Kamiza Ikioi ( 893310 ) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @08:11AM (#13378322)
        It's about quality education. Schools can throw all the technology they want at kids, but computers alone won't give children an education.

        Teachers must be properly trained to use this technology to its fullest. I'm afraid that won't realistically happen until the next generation of teachers emerges that has grown up all their lives around computers.

        Computers should never come at the cost of student-teacher time, nor at the cost of fewer teachers. Nor, should schools compete with each other as to "who has the bigger, faster" setup. If it isn't actually improving education, it is worthless.

        Saving schools money is good, as long as those savings are going to improve the educational experience, and not back into the budget for someone's pet project.

        I remember my high school trying out computers. We only touched them when we all had to do something, and take turns, etc. The computer was a glorified typewriter, and the students were still required to hand write drafts, for instance. (I cheated, and scribbled on my notebook until a PC opened up.) But, I was patient. I knew most of the kids had never even used a computer. I, and the geeks I hung out with, averaged 2-4 at home. Still, I would have loved a school laptop back then. I finally bought my own in college.

        College was different, but not much. I was more of the outsider for having it, as most of my peers had regular pen and paper. Then again, most were asking for printouts of my delicately constructed lecture outlines to compare to. While others left for the library to do a short paper, I was already half done before leaving class. Of course, I was left to my own faculties come test time.

        But, that is another problem. A student who doesn't know how to work without a computer may be at a disadvantage at the college level, much as a student who doesn't know how to work with a computer is at a severe disadvantage. I remember the same debate over calculators being introduced into the SAT. Some college professors (not all, or even a majority) do not care what you work best with. They'll plop down a blue pad in front of you, and tell you to put all your fancy gadgets away.

        Did computers help me in school? Not really. I didn't really care about education until college, and what mattered there was choosing a smaller school where I had lots of one on one time with professors when I needed it. They could have given away iPods and iBooks, and whatever else colleges are giving away now. Take them in exchange for 100+ student classes? No way!

        As a side note, while I think moving some text to computers is good, I think I would be wearing some very thick glasses if I had to have read Anne Frank on a laptop.
      • I took the very first computer science class at my highschool in 1981.

        Back then we actually learned programming languages (basic and fortran) and got a good start on the basics of program development (flow charts were de rigueur).

        In my class of approximately 350 there were about 15 of us who took that course - and of that 15 I would guess there are only about 5 of us who made computers their life's work.

        I talked my parents into getting me a personal computer for Christmas that year (it was a TI 99A) - and I
  • It's nessecary. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nairoz ( 856164 ) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @04:37AM (#13377750)
    The job of schools is to teach, or to provide a starting point in this world.

    As I don't see technology becoming any less a part of this world, I'd argue that it's entirely relevent to use it in schools. People need to be brought up around technology to be able to readily accept it and take it for grante, otherwise the lurning curve is that much steeper. Just as long as it only remains a part of schools, rather than becoming the schools themselves.
    • The largest part of society still requires very little or no knowledge of computers in order to function, therefore the idea that computers are a necessary skill (such as reading/writing and basic math) seems unlikely.

      Though I do agree that every child should get atleast some experience with computers at school, the current situation in which education as a whole is moving from traditional materials to computers-only is not the one I would support.

      It just adds a layer of complexity between the student and t
      • The largest part of society still requires very little or no knowledge of math in order to function.

        What was your point, exactly?

        • They may not all require basic knowledge of math to do their work, but they still need it to function in society; do shopping, household work, calculate the number of weeks until some event, etc. Similar to reading and writing; a garbageman needs not know how to read or write for his job (I know, he probably does), but it'll come in very handy if he ever wants to read road signs.

          Computers however, are not a required skill in order to do most jobs or life your live.
    • I have seen people run aground whenever they focus on the tool rather than the task:
      • A good woodworker thinks in terms of what they are going to accomlish. If you are making a drawer with dovetail joinery you could use a fancy jig, a CNC milling machine, or basic hand tools. As soon as a woodworker starts spending their time and money looking for the perfect dovetail jigs in magazines and catalogs they have lost the opportunity to practice making them.
      • If a CAD operator takes the place of a designer you h
      • Unfortunately, I see some schools focusing on computers as the ends instead of the means. My Jr. High school no longer offers electronics, metal or wood shop. We had all of those 20 years ago when I went there. As a programmer who develops solutions for people, I can recognize the value of understanding how other people do their jobs an use their tools. Having the ability to use a computer is good, but having another ability that gives you a reason to use the computer is no less valuable.
  • Pointless (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kawahee ( 901497 )
    Technology in classrooms is necessary. Not only is our world increasingly dependent on technology to do menial tasks, but the workforce of the future will be expected to be fluent with these technologies and it's better to get children accustomed to them as soon as possible. And let's not forget the obvious advantage of having advanced interactive content in the classroom.
    • Re:Pointless (Score:4, Insightful)

      by EEBaum ( 520514 ) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @05:23AM (#13377843) Homepage
      Advanced interactive content... when that comes around, let me know.
      For now, I'll be sitting in a lecture hall, having a PowerPoint read to me.
      Or watching a horrid video on the mating habits of salmon. For the third time in as many years.
      Or getting tendonitis from a poorly-designed click-happy interface on a music theory program.
      Or spending 20 minutes working through a computer program that demonstrates something incredibly simple that could be more easily and much more effectively learned by actively drawing and working it out ourselves.
      Or watching a 45 minute demonstration on how to use a search engine.
      Or spending 15 minutes setting up an Excel spreadsheet to add up a few numbers and make it look pretty.

      The closest I've come to using "advanced interactive content" in a mainstream (i.e. not college-level computer-related) course was the Quadratic Equation solver on the TI-82. Junior year of high school, it was the teacher's recommended way of solving such equations. Yeah, that came in really handy in college calculus.

      There are lots of great ways to expose people to technology. In my experience, the signal-to-noise ratio of teaching standard courses with computers is atrocious.

      Also, perhaps if we were to focus on offering kids ways to live well-balanced lives, and encouraging them to use technology for what it is, rather than for "job skills," they might actually enjoy their childhood, perhaps make a real connection with the technology, and not be disgruntled when they discover that they spent 20 years preparing for 40 years in a job just so they can have money to retire and supposedly enjoy the remaining 1/4 of their life, unless cut short by death, illness, depression, etc.
    • by Chordonblue ( 585047 ) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @06:34AM (#13377991) Journal
      I'm sorry, but I'm fairly certain that these school districts have football teams along with swimming pools, etc. I know of a local school (Manheim Central) who prides itself on having a killer football team. God knows what would happen if one day they didn't have one. My guess is that the funding of the team always manages to get through.

      I wonder if these same schools are struggling for a tech budget while sports are funded this way. That would be the first question I'd have for the Racine district (in the article).

      Don't get me wrong, I'm not against sports in school per se, BUT... I AM against funding non-academic activities over academic ones. What are the priorities for funding here?

  • Well... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @04:39AM (#13377753)
    Oregon Trail taught me everything I needed to know.
    • Indeed! Heck, when I played that in school (in second grade), there was a good 10 minutes of instruction on how to power on the Apple IIe and how to properly grip and insert the floppy disk into the drive and close the door after it. This in our bi-weekly 20-minute computer lab time.

      /has flashbacks of banging head on desk.
      • Can't laugh about that too much. I actually witnessed a guy in grade 10, insert his 5.25" floppy into the gap *between* the drives. Right into the case.
  • by frinkacheese ( 790787 ) * on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @04:41AM (#13377759) Journal

    Technology is schools is another fad, just like them computer things and this new fangled Google-o-web thing. It'll never last.

    This will join a long list of fads:

    Cars, Computers, Bikes, Medicine, Porn.

    We'll soon see them trying something new.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    There is no doubt that more technology will come to our schools and some of it perhaps overkill at times (Wifi at lunch tables). But a bigger concern to not overlook is a focus on first bridging the socioeconomic gaps between schools before wasting money on over-teched out schools. Many schools in poor areas could first use money to get books for everyone, before the rich school on the other side of town has RFID cards to open their lockers.

    //my 2 cents via ACH ///temi, but bad karma prevented login post

  • The Fad... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EEBaum ( 520514 ) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @04:46AM (#13377771) Homepage
    Hopefully, the fad is computers being used poorly in the classroom. Heck, Powerpoint alone tends to reduce my engagement in a class by 90%. Computers used in courses where they're relevant is great, and I've had some excellent ones to that effect. It's when people decide that a class on English Literature or Music History could benefit from the wonders of computers, without even having a "wow this is better!" reason to begin with, that things go sour.
    • Agreed 100%. Powerpoint lectures are definitely inferior to the tried and true technique of writing on the board.

      1: When the teacher writes on the board, it forces him/her to think through the material again, and prompts comments which are often very useful.

      2: Writing on the board forces the teacher to pick and choose what information to show rather than just listing bullet after bullet of details.

      3: Watching the writing process "build order" as a teacher fleshes out an argument helps to understand the way
      • Agreed 100%. Powerpoint lectures are definitely inferior to the tried and true technique of writing on the board.

        1. Writing on the board means the teacher can't cover as much material (even though the material might actually be relevant to the course, but then I suppose most students aren't going to complain about courses having less content) because it takes longer (I've had classes at university where there were powerpoint lectures and board-only lectures).

        2. It's also difficult to place it on the we
        • 1. Writing on the board means the teacher can't cover as much material (even though the material might actually be relevant to the course, but then I suppose most students aren't going to complain about courses having less content) because it takes longer (I've had classes at university where there were powerpoint lectures and board-only lectures).

          Thats a bug, not a feature - with Powerpoint its too easy to just pack in the material without regard to how fast students can process it. I've had a professor tr
          • I've had a professor try to pack in months of material into a couple weeks.

            This isn't something that's intrinsic in powerpoint. I've thankfully not had this problem, and all lectures haven't had an information overload. But content on the board -does- still take longer to convey to the students. It takes longer to write it down, then to display a slide, and speak about the points it raises. Also, lecture slides aren't meant to be covered during the lecture (by a good lecturer anyway IMO). Students shoul
        • More quantity, perhaps. However, with Powerpoints on the web, the process comes full circle.

          10 In the beginning, you enroll for a course.
          20 This course is taught in the traditional manner, i.e. information is thrown at you, you are expected to remember it for a few weeks.
          30 That course has a book, which you purchase at the bookstore (supposedly).
          40 However, a book alone is not sufficient for you to know the material.
          50 So you get a teacher to run the class, because they (supposedly) know all about th
        • I have sat through so many Powerpoint lectures (ex-PhD student) and they are almost universally crap. Nobody listens, the speaker just reads every bullet point, nobody checks anything. I swear, in most cases you could add a slide in the middle saying "Screw you bunch of tree-hugging hippies" and nobody would notice.

          It's because it is so easy to cram so much information into the slides with no explanation or consideration of how people will understand it. The best talks were always those where the speaker ac
          • Nobody listens, the speaker just reads every bullet point, nobody checks anything.

            That's too bad (although by the sounds of it you've had the occassional good lecturer because you said almost ;)). I've had my fair share of bad lecturers, but the good ones make good use of powerpoint slides and do more then just read the bullet points. When I was an undergrad (1997-2001), our lectures were all OHP or board-based. We were given printed lecture notes at the beginning of every lecture or course

            Most people
        • by Moraelin ( 679338 )
          Just being able to cram more material in a bunch of bulletted lists, and flip pages quickly, doesn't mean people will understand more.

          1. Humans aren't like a hard drive, that you can just dump megabytes per second into. The human mind has actually very limited bandwidth, as such, but is actually a sort of a pipeline, with buffers behind buffers. Any one overflowing will mean information being discarded.

          Wisecracks like "but then I suppose most students aren't going to complain about courses having less conte
          • When giving someone new information, they also have to assimilate it in some (preliminary) form.

            That's actually a good point. Reading the lecture slides beforehand is a good preliminary way to get familiarised with the information, the next step is to attend the lecture and the teacher talk to you, providing content that compliments the lecture notes, rather then going over the same information. The slide merely serves as a way to keep track of where in the lecture you are (and to allow the teacher to go
            • I'm not saying that the program "Powerpoint" alone has some intrinsic evil that makes a slide bad by itself. I'm referring to the over-reliance on and mis-use of slide-shows generally, regardless of how they're made (Powerpoint, Open Office, MS Paint, by hand, etc) and how they're presented (computer and beamer, overhead projector, flip-charts, etc).

              And especially to the bad idea that ploughing through 2-3 times more content per hour (e.g., via slide-shows) somehow means you learn more. It might well mean y
      • to have bullet points then yes, it is better to do it on the blackboard. Unless you happen to be that math professor who loved using double subscripts (x_1_a anyone?), or that russian guy who could need a spellchecker. But I've also experienced a class that was made <sacrilege>*much* better using PowerPoint</sacrilege>. Why? Great visual illustrations, sidetab which made sure you got the structure/overview right, and bulletpoints coming up by enter presses as if he was writing, paced at a
  • by Anonymous Coward
    My wife is an elementary education major who is getting an endorsement in technology, and so is, naturally, very much a believer in education in the classroom. I agree, but that is kind of beside the point I wanted to make.

    I honestly believe that if the Open Source community wants to go mainstream it must gain acceptance in schools. Because I learned first on Windows/MS software, I still do, and probably will alway feel more comfortable there. I love the ideals of Linux and the Open Source community in gene
  • Call me old school (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dogugotw ( 635657 ) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @04:59AM (#13377799)
    But the basics my parents learned are more relevant today than ever - reading and writing and arithmatic should be the core studies required for all students. Add in history, language (especially for those of us in the US who think English is the only language), PE and an artistic course and that's a sound core curriculum. All of this can be taught without tech. Teach the buggers how to talk, write, and think.

    I love tech and think it can have a place in schools if a few simple rules are followed. Use tech where it makes sense. Make sure the teachers know how to use the tech FIRST. Make sure there is sufficient and appropriate tech for the audience (skip PowerPoint and Word, geez, use a good text editor, who needs all the formatting whizbang crap anyway?). Try and find an IT support person/group that understands education and can communicate with the staff (nothing worse than a locked down desktop just because the IT dept can't be bothered to understand the teacher's needs).

    I think it's more important to have teachers who understand their subject, are enthusiastic about it, and love to share that enthusiasm than to have computers for computer's sake.

    I also think it's important that we stop adding course load on kids and trim the subject list back to something that is more human AND make the classes a bit longer (I had 1 hour classes when in high school, my kids were down to 45 minutes - how soon before we get to 1/2 hour of McEd?).

    Tech is fine when used sanely with a purpose within a larger designed teaching environment. If something has to go, let it be tech in favor or better teachers.
    • But the basics my parents learned are more relevant today than ever - reading and writing and arithmatic should be the core studies required for all students.

      Nice straw-man argument, but I believe no-one said otherwise (and unless the American education system has become really, really screwed up, those three are core studies required for all students).

      language (especially for those of us in the US who think English is the only language)

      Americans must be really stupid if there is anyone (who doesn'
      • Americans must be really stupid if there is anyone (who doesn't have physical disabilities affecting their cognitive skills) who believes English is the only language.

        On a very slightly related note, I think it's a matter of awareness of different aspects of things. Sure, nobody thinks that English is the only language. There are a good deal of linguistic aspects of the world that the average American (or anyone, for that matter) are likely not aware of.

        I've been to over a dozen countries, speak 3 la
    • I am a techie.
      My wife has a Phd in Childhood Ed.
      My wife is a school adminstrator.
      All comments below are valid (in my mind) to Kindergarden through 6 grade.

      1) Teachers are liberal arts majors and they do not inherently know how to use tech.
      2) Recent studies have shown kids pick up computers use methodologies very quickly when they need to, without adult help.
      3) Computer labs need constant care, oddly enough viruses run virtually unchecked through schools, computer ones that is. I often call my wife and tell
  • Fries With That? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Quirk ( 36086 ) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @05:07AM (#13377809) Homepage Journal
    What constitutes learning? Is it complex forms of habituation? Is it rote learning? Is it pattern recognition and the ability to operate on those patterns?

    For most students much of learning is a rote exercise. Exams are a regurgatation process, from some the product is as appealing as barf, from others it's a well served up platter where memory is complemented by order, and they can ask, fries with that? There are limitations to the amount of data students who learn by rote can process and having to learn Information Technology as a secondary form of literacy increases the burden.

    There is no magic cure for education and the ever increasing demands burgeoning amounts of information makes on students. Reading, Writing and Arithmetic just doesn't cut it anymore.

    The stone cold fact is fewer people have the faculties able to assimilate huge amounts of information, recognize patterns in that information and acquire the tools to operate positively on that information.

    The best and the brightest are no longer culled from America only, or the west, the best and the brightest are cheery picked from the wide world, because the demands have pushed the requirements to a world set.

    Along with ability there must also be the drive to endlessly read and update one's knowledge base.

    Strong arguments now suggest our relatively larger brains came about from our more complex social structures, and, for many, maintaining social structures take first place over being a geek. Some people would rather get laid and revel in their place in the tribe. Go figure.

  • by kafka47 ( 801886 ) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @05:07AM (#13377812) Homepage
    Forget the kids and teach the teachers. There are so many teachers out there of the "old guard" mentality that literally revel in their refusal to adapt and learn new ways of delivering knowledge. Its not really about teaching technology to students. The kids grok it, and grok it better and faster than we do. The trick is to get the teachers to *use* it, and use it in ways that have not been even tried yet.

    Not to say there is any replacement for a classroom (or good ol' old fashioned repetition) but, as an example, many concepts and theories in math and science can be more effectively demonstrated visually and interactively than they ever could from a static textbook. These topics lend themselves very well to simulation and demonstration. And once a student understands the basics that build into principles, then we can get them to use it in the class. And so on.

    A math teacher friend of mine routinely observes that his kids are learning in different ways than how we did. The textbook is falling prey to a massive culture of distraction. IM, web, games, television, cellphones... the ubiquitous pull becomes even worse when the last thing a student wants to do is read a boring math text. I'm less inclined to simply blame the student - is it really their fault? Why not have those technologies reach out to them in the same way? Should we risk denying the reality of the world we actually live in (versus how we think it should be)? In other words, adapt to new learning styles. Make learning the game that they play for 4 hours a night (instead of reading math).

    So thats exactly what my math teacher friend has started doing [].

    Its in its infancy, but longer term he will be using it for learning augmentation across the board. Its pretty interesting stuff, and possibly helpful for any other Math and science teachers here on /.

    Right now i see the whole discourse on schools and technology centre on how much it costs to put computers into classrooms. And how to "teach technology" to our kids. Why? I think we should bury the technology and stop oohing and ahhing over it - and just start actually using it for what its meant for.


    • by Tim ( 686 ) <timr@alumni.was[ ... u ['hin' in gap]> on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @06:54AM (#13378052) Homepage
      "the ubiquitous pull becomes even worse when the last thing a student wants to do is read a boring math text. I'm less inclined to simply blame the student - is it really their fault?"

      Of course not. It's the parents' fault. Even today, I know plenty of kids who were raised without video games or (gasp!) television in the home. It is possible.

      That said, yes, it's still a virtue to be able to read a "boring" math text. And not just in the abstract, back-in-my-day, walked-uphill-both-ways sense of the word "virtue," either. Some things are hard to learn, and take dedication and study. No amount of pointy-clicky technology magic will change that fact.

      I say this as someone who spent two-thirds of last year grading some of the most attrociously-written papers you can imagine from junior and senior undergraduates. By my estimation, only 10 percent of my students were more than functionally literate. As my students will prove to you when you encounter them in the workplace, an extensive knowledge of Microsoft Word doesn't teach you how to write....
    • You know what I am really sorry you all feel this way. The problem, and I am American, is that we use all the tech to replace the mind. Lets go back to solving math problems with paper and pencil, instead of the wonderful calculator. Lets make the student learn to use a slide rule again, instead of the technology and have them learn.

      As for the person that says the not the brightest are from America, Then why are so many coming here for the education. Why should we up the H1B visa limit, then stay in yo
  • by hattig ( 47930 ) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @05:08AM (#13377815) Journal
    To replace textbooks in a cost effective manner would require:

    1) Rugged, reliable, long-life hardware that is too boring to steal
    2) eTextBooks to be a lot cheaper than the printed version

    Say a textbook lasts 10 years in a school (by school, I'm talking about the UK definition of schools, not university where you buy your own or use the library) - 100 copies of $textbook will cost say £2000. 100 advanced eBook readers would currently cost £20000 and be a lot less convenient in many ways than the text book. Of course, multiply that by 10 courses (assuming the average GCSE student does 10 GCSEs these days) and you get a textbook cost of £20000, or £200/student, or £20/student-year. Aforementioned eBook hardware, assuming 10 year lifespan, would also be £20/student-year. Of course, these eTextBooks would probably be licensed on a per-year basis, say £5 a year. £50 for 10 years, but you will get updates for errata integrated easily. 100 licenses would be £50000 for the 10 years, maybe less with a bulk discount. That's £50/student-year in addition to the £20 for the hardware.

    I'm just cynical, but there is a reason these things are being pushed, and it isn't concern about the weight of textbooks in a schoolbag. It is to raise revenue for textbook firms.

    However, I don't think much beats using pen and paper for making notes in class. Quieter than a room full of people typing, and I think it gets the point into your head a lot quicker.
  • But, but! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @05:15AM (#13377830)
    If you give kids technology while they are still young, and in school, they'll all grow up to be hackers who use Linux!!!
    • They modded you funny, but there's a large part of truth to that statement.

      _If_ you make people work with Linux at school, they will be familiar with it. If they don't also learn Windows, they will insist on Linux just like people now insist on Windows. If they do also learn Windows (more likely), they will be able to make an informed choice - or at least more informed than if they hadn't used Linux at school.

      The same thing also goes for Dvorak keyboards. Everybody I know who has typed on Dvorak keyboards l
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...they're great. But when I was in high school, we rarely used them for something good. Mostly we used them to search for information on the Web. Yes, it was useful, but we could as easily have used the school library.

    I think schools should focus more of the computer education on the actual *use* of a computer. Teach the students *general principles* of GUI:s, try and teach them how the Internet works, what the difference between an image file and a text file is, etc. - even if it's very brief and in dumbe
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I do not think the future of education is a computer on every child's desk, but I think that computers can be used to create tremendous resources to help further education.

    For example, with something like this : []
    there is the potential to create independent 'schools' of various types... imagine a community of parents who home school their children organizing with such a tool to diversify the experience.

    With such education por
  • Technology (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hackstraw ( 262471 ) * on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @05:28AM (#13377861)
    From []

    1a. The application of science, especially to industrial or commercial objectives.
    1b. The scientific method and material used to achieve a commercial or industrial objective.
    2. Electronic or digital products and systems considered as a group: a store specializing in office technology.
    3. Anthropology. The body of knowledge available to a society that is of use in fashioning implements, practicing manual arts and skills, and extracting or collecting materials.

    To me, technology, like any other -ology, is the knowledge of something, especially using the scientific method. Everybody knows themselves and somebody else and animals, but they are not psychologists. Everybody knows a group of people, but they are not a sociologist. Most everybody has seen a calculator or a computer, but that does not make them a technologist either. Give a computer or a calculator to someone that does not know how to add, and they will not know how to add with the calculator either.

    My point being is that there are a number of prerequisites besides hardware for technology to be applied in education. I get annoyed at the concept that technology is something that spontaneously does stuff for people. It doesn't.

    Americans are already behind the most of the world in basic education like math, science, and history. I believe that all aspects of education should be reexamined. The feel good, "I'm confident in my ignorance", attitude simply cannot last much longer, unless we start outsourcing that too.
    • "To me, technology, like any other -ology, is the knowledge of something, especially using the scientific method."

      is it really about technology per se?

      firstly, i think it's incorrect to suggest that technology has a lot to do with teaching the "scientific method". empirism can be taught in many ways, hardly any of them having anything to do with computers.

      what does matter in this context, in my view, is the way kids take up information. computers, and in particular the net, shape information in a completely
  • One in Three? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BenjyD ( 316700 ) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @05:53AM (#13377913)

    One computer for every three students? How did they ever think that many computers would help with the children's education?

    Ridiculous quote:
    Jena Haggith, one of Hansen's students last school year, said she preferred his use of technology for lessons over textbooks. "When I read from a textbook, I get so bored, so I don't know what they're saying,"
    But how much time in lessons is spent reading the textbook? 5%, perhaps 10%. Hardly a justification for spending so much money. Also, the ability to read and comprehend dense factual text is a useful skill - how are these kids going to cope in the real world where everything isn't broken down into bite-size multimedia presentations?

    But it gets even funnier:
    But, he said, students perk up when technology is involved. "They're into computers, and they're into what computers can do," he said.
    No, they're perking up because they know they won't have to do any work for the rest of the lesson because the teacher will be too busy troubleshooting to keep an eye on the kids

  • well please take into account that excessive technologisation distracts students! with a simple textbook - everything is nice and clear, with a computer - not so sure.

    I still can not imagine e.g. math classes with computers - although numerical methods are somehow important - the true understanding comes from paper and pencil.

    I have attended one of the best schools in my city at the time. We had only old craps - not realy computers - x286. There were no computers used in classes apart from "computer science
  • Technology is a great way to shift learning towards problem solving, creativity and less on rote.

    I'd say that the days of closed book tests are gone. It's open book tests, and part of the skill of the student is to learn to distill what is relevant from a dizzyinr choice of information sources

  • by Tuxedo Jack ( 648130 ) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @06:22AM (#13377976) Homepage
    This is from the teacher side of me - I teach after-school classes, and I'm working on a degree in education.

    The teachers treat lab periods as if they were days off. They sit the kids down, turn on the software, and let the kids zone out. There' no interaction from the teacher; the "Compass" software just does the work.

    And what's worse is that the software doesn't teach concepts or methods. It teaches for the TAKS (Texas Assesment of Knowledge and Skills standardized test). The kids go from grade to grade, knowing nothing, learning nothing except how to click the X.

    What happened to true educational software, like Number Munchers, Oregon Trail, and Carmen Sandiego? These actually made the kids think, do quick maths in their head (I've not met a kid outside of middle school who can pull this now), and they sure didn't teach for any standardized tests.

    Now to the IT side - I manage the school LAN, which is about 250 Windows machines (ranging from Pentiums at 200MHz running Windows 98SE to quad-Xeon boxes running XP for my gaming - gotta be a BOfH) and 100 or so Macs (PPC 603e and up).

    School districts, as you know, are massive organizations, easily on par with major corporations, and the different divisions require different outfits - for example, while every machine in the district I work at is loaded with Windows and Office as a base, the different levels get different software. Elementary gets Compass and a bunch of programs funded by grants (Orchard, Type to Learn, Lexia - basically total crap that's a pain both client and server side); middle and high get Plato (a version of Compass for the older kids) and development tools and editors in the labs (Dreamweaver/Fireworks/Photoshop, Codewarrior, a bunch of compilers and apps), and the admins get specialized database software to do attendance, check grades, create "student profile databases," and whatnot.

    At my campus, we've got 60 laptops for the kids, in addition to four computer labs (60 Macs, 60 Dells), plus the requisite two student machines per classroom (which are never used). On top of that, we have campuswide wireless-G coverage (and that's impressive, since we're a brick-and-mortar school built in the mid-50s), quad-Xeon machines for me and the resident DBA/lunchroom and bus monitor, and bloody flat panel monitors left and right on dual-head cards. Finally, we're getting 30 more laptops on the Beaumont Grant soon, and we don't know how we're going to fit those in, since the laptops are rarely used as is.

    The teachers don't know jack about their software, they surf the Web and get infected left and right since we're not allowed to install Firefox, and we're bogged down with crap software that we have to install. On top of that, the admins took the dedicated LANtech away from the building (I'm a contractor, brought in to work on a grant's machines, and the building principal - my old childhood principal, to boot - extended my contract to cover the rest of the campus, with no extra pay) and they're trying to centralize things at a helpdesk _with no remote management software_, all in the name of saving money.

    You can't pull stuff like that when you have over 50 schools to deal with, a shrinking tech services department (they laid off five techs at the end of the last school year - my boss was one of them), and a staff that knows next to nothing about the systems there except how to check their mail.

    Schools are losing their direction with technology, and they need to seriously reexamine what they're doing with it - both for the IT staff's sake and the kids.
    • I think a big part of the problem is the "build it and they will come" mentality that drove the installation of technology in schools. We put the hardware into the schools without thinking of what we would do with it.

      Classroom technology needs to be rethought from the perspective of the student. What software exists that can teach something better or add some value to a subject? Good software is the key to technology helping in the classroom. The problem is schools throw $300 per computer at MS Office w
  • by tmortn ( 630092 ) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @06:36AM (#13377993) Homepage
    Computers in school cannot be fully usefull until they are universal. 1 to 4 ratio ONLY at school is no good. Teachers have to be able to assume this tool is available at a certain level to all of their students just as they demand pencil, paper and 3 ring binders etc.... Untill that is the case they will ALWAYS be a secondary, extra or just plain extraneus paperweights in the classroom.

    To those who say computers can't be usefull in classes such as lit, history or music etc.... Hell Make a wiki for a lit class dealing with a work and have assignments for differnt students to write various portions and make them all responsible for comming up with a final wiki on the subject and continue to build these through the year. History could work much the same way with students exploring their discussions and building timelines of events and posting and responding to each others thoughts. Music... hell don't just study music theory, break out something like Garage band and some instruments and start putting it to USE as your learning it and record, edit it, produce something and distribute the end result to the rest of the school if it sounds good. Not just trying to make music but to put each theory to work and build a piece of music unique to each classes talents while exploring all of the various elements of theory covered by the class.

    To date the focus has been on having computers and that is all wrong. They need to function the same as pen and paper. As a fundamental tool for exploring and learning the subject at hand. All of you who are slashdotoholics who say give it the ole tried and true pen and paper deal tell me that the web isn't the first place you turn when you want to find out some new piece of information. If the info isn't there it will certainly point you in the right direction. Why would this not work for a classroom?

    People who say computers can't be better than the way its been done before are the same folks that once said printed words were no substitute for oral tradition and for all I know the ones that said oral tradition was for wussies who couldn't figure it out all on their own.

    Computers are better at the collection and sharing of information than older methods. THATS WHY WE USE THEM. This will make them powerful and ESSENTIAL tools for education if people would get their thumbs out of their asses about it. They are not substitutes for teachers and never will be. But as that science teacher so ably demonstrates. They are valuable tools in the right hands.

  • It is a fad. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Phanatic1a ( 413374 ) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @07:40AM (#13378197)
    Like the saying goes, "If you can't do something, you can't do it with a computer."

    If we had schools capable of turning out well-educated young adults with a firm grounding in the fundamentals of rational thought and at least a working knowledge of math, language, history, and science, well, the absence of computers in the classroom and whatnot wouldn't be significant.

    And if all you have are schools turning out masses of people so ignorant that they actually think "Left Behind" is a good series of books, the presence of computers in the classroom isn't going to matter one good goddamn.
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @09:45AM (#13378889) Homepage Journal
    The best tech for schools is already given us by god. The bible is simple, low-power, portable, and standard. All this vanity, pretending we can create our own miracles with science, is a waste of time. Better to send our tax money to the church, where it can really help us get to Paradise. Our time in this mortal life should be spent in obedient reflection, and killing heathens, doing god's will in sending everyone to the eternal afterlife we're destined to get.
  • Forget computers. The pinnacle of classroom technology in Oklahoma is a Laddie pencil & a Big Chief tablet. Next year, we're gonna get a mimeograph machine. Yep, everything is looking up in Oklahoma.

    Oklahoma is a lot like a post nuclear society. Pockets of high tech surrounded by wasteland. You have to have an SUV so you can drive on the roads. Yes, you can have that offroad driving experience without ever having leave town.

    Best of all, you don't have to send your jobs offshore. Oklahoma is also lik
  • Todd Oppenheimer's book [] should be required reading for anyone interested in this topic. While there is some anecdotal evidence that technology can help students, the statistical research on this has shown that these are either (a) temporary gains from encountering a new teaching style, or (b) dog-and-pony shows devoted to gifted students that could learn just as well from other sources.

    The cost-benefit ratio of technology in schools, at least as it is used now, is highly questionable.

  • citking writes "The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is running parts one and two of a three-part series dealing with the future of books in America's schools. Part one asks whether books in schools is merely a fad or, as some may argue, a necessity in today's book-driven society. It raises some interesting points, such as the contrasting the wide availability of computers in schools to the generally limited use among students. Part two goes in-depth about the books' cost, citing the dependence of grants that are
  • I am sure I will be in the minority here on slashdot, but I strongly feel computers in the classroom only distract students from learning.
    Computers are an END, a topic to learn about in high school to prepare students for a high tech world.
    I saw my first computer when I was 13 and I became an expert, writing interpreters in 6502 assembly language among other things, before I graduated high school. I was old enough to benefit from exposure to computers.
    In grammar school the computers are used as babysitters
  • I am a high school teacher and from what I've seen in 10 years of public education is that technology is far more a crutch than anything. It's like "A week in the lab, yeah!!" We are consumed with powerpoint (which should be banned from schools along with guns, knives drugs, and rap music) and making pretty things that look good but lack content. I did my MA thesis on writing and technology and lo and behold, not only do comptuers not improve writing, it actually hurts it by interrupting the pre-writing
  • #1. It is Federal Law that students be proficient with technology before high school (by 8th grade). Schools must comply.
    #2. The paradigm of computers has changed. Rather than WWII ideas of giant computational devices, we now see that computers are also a tool that allows us to collect, organize, understand, and make new observations on information. These technology literacy elements of information literacy are absolutely essential for students to learn. We are in an age where as a culture we know so much,
  • Computers are not the end answer for education in schools. Computers are a tool and nothing more and should be used as such. The wrong thing to do is to substitute computer software for teachers.

    Giving a calculator to someone who doesn't understand math doesn't help them. Using this type of logic, giving someone a saw and hammer makes them a master carpenter.

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.