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How Technology Changes Classrooms 383

Corrupt writes "Just ask 11-year-old Jemella Chambers. She is one of 650 students who receive an Apple Inc laptop each day at a state-funded school in Boston. From the second row of her classroom, she taps out math assignments on animated education software that she likens to a video game."
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How Technology Changes Classrooms

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  • Seriously, what's wrong with the abicus? Master Splinter used it quite proficiently.

    • by DriedClexler ( 814907 ) on Monday July 07, 2008 @11:37AM (#24085357)

      Seriously, what's wrong with the abicus?

      The spelling?

      (Disclaimer: I wish English would simplify its entire spelling system, blah blah blah.)

      • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

        Abacus is spelled phonetically. Even if you simplify spelling, if you're mispronouncing the word you'll still spell words incorrectly.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Tweenk ( 1274968 )

          Abacus is spelled phonetically.

          No it isn't.

          If I'm correct (I'm not a native English speaker) the first a is an 'a' while the second a is 'ei'. There are several more than 5 vowel sounds in English. It's just that you use only 5 characters for them. Even simple words like "race" are mind-boggling - the a is actually an 'ei', the c is actually 's' and the final e is mute!

          For nearly-phonetic writing look at Slavic languages (there are some exceptions, like word-final w, but those are at least consistent), or at relatively modern scripts lik

    • by sm62704 ( 957197 )

      Abacus? Not portable enough. I used a slide rule to cheat in math class when I was in school (they didn;t have calculators back then). Stupid teachers didn't know it was cheating, they figured if I could use a slide rule I must be "real smart".

  • Nice! (Score:5, Funny)

    by DigitAl56K ( 805623 ) on Monday July 07, 2008 @11:14AM (#24084973)

    She is one of 650 students who receive an Apple Inc laptop each day

    I wish I could receive an Apple Inc laptop each day! Sounds profitable ;)

  • She gets an Apple laptop every day?

    Whilst I'm sure she's making a sweet resale profit, isn't that a bit wasteful?

  • Oy vey... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lpangelrob ( 714473 )

    ...at least rewrite the summary in your own words, rather than directly plagiarizing from the article. Besides, without the first paragraph of the article, the summary makes no sense. Just ask Jemella what?

    • Re:Oy vey... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Monday July 07, 2008 @11:26AM (#24085155)
      Thanks to technology, people are graduating without even knowing how to construct complete sentences. And also thanks to technology, those same people can now go on to be "editors" for major websites. : p
      • Re:Oy vey... (Score:5, Informative)

        by blahplusplus ( 757119 ) on Monday July 07, 2008 @11:39AM (#24085399)

        "Thanks to technology, people are graduating without even knowing how to construct complete sentences. And also thanks to technology, those same people can now go on to be "editors" for major websites."

        Or it could be that most schools do not teach grammar or language structure at all, I know when I was in school we never got any of that crap. We got a few mentions of 'noun' vs 'verb', etc. But nothing like a lecture or classes on proper sentence structure.

        • Amen! The only reason I have any semblance of grammar education is because I moved around a lot during childhood and one of the schools I attended actually made grammar a priority. It is appalling what some of my former classmates tried to pass off as English - although it's not as if their teacher would ever even notice; there were more than a handful of occasions where I would be marked "wrong" only to get out a large book of grammar and show the teacher that she was the one using the language incorrect
        • Informative? How about funny?
        • by NJVil ( 154697 ) on Monday July 07, 2008 @12:18PM (#24086053)

          As a high school English teacher I only have one (sad thing) to contribute here. We're strongly discouraged from teaching grammar... since the administration "knows" it is boring and cannot hold student interest. If a subject or lesson cannot (or does not) keep every child in the classroom entertained, no matter how diverse the population, then the teacher is faulted.

          On the other hand, be glad they've got laptops to keep them entertained. Yay!

          Meh.

          • by NJVil ( 154697 )

            Grrr.... make that.... I only have one (sad) thing to contribute here. And now it's two. I can't win!

          • by D Ninja ( 825055 )

            Well I'm sure glad that I don't go to school now. Back in my day, my English teacher learned me grammar good!

          • by D Ninja ( 825055 )

            If a subject or lesson cannot (or does not) keep every child in the classroom entertained, no matter how diverse the population, then the teacher is faulted.

            Well, of course. Didn't you read it in your contract? Section 5A, Paragraph C.

            Section 5A: (C) All teachers shall maintain the roles of: disciplinarian, nurse, psychiatrist, janitor, entertainer and, oh yeah, teacher.*

            *Sub 1: Basically, you're going to be a parent for all of your students. Good luck. You're going to need it.

            Side Note: I wanted to be a teacher at one point. They don't pay the teachers of our nation nearly enough money to deal with all that crap.

        • Re:Oy vey... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by UserChrisCanter4 ( 464072 ) * on Monday July 07, 2008 @12:37PM (#24086307)
          Or it could be that most schools do not teach grammar or language structure at all, I know when I was in school we never got any of that crap. We got a few mentions of 'noun' vs 'verb', etc. But nothing like a lecture or classes on proper sentence structure.

          I am 26 years old, with a degree in English, and I have taught English at the high school level in the past (I now teach computer courses for various reasons).

          What does that mean besides the fact that I will invariably overlook a grammatical mistake in my own post? We don't teach grammar or language structure at all. Since about 1990, the trend in American English instruction has been the so-called "whole language" method. It is essentially based in a belief that immersion in proper English methods will result in more effective grammar instruction.

          In practice, it means that children should be taught grammar through, say, correcting their own papers (where the changes and differences have more meaning than a drill) and through reading.

          The fifth grade (1989-1990 for me) was the last time I had instruction in sentence diagramming. I did have one hold-out 9th grade English teacher who insisted on rote memorization of irregular verbs and their tenses, but who didn't provide much guidance for what distinguished "future perfect" from "past participle." Having sat through those courses, it's easy to understand both sides of the grammar education approach/

          Like several other posters, it took foreign language instruction in middle school and high school before I started understanding the concept of infinitives, conjugations, tenses, etc. Coincidentally, it was also immensely frustrating when certain parts of foreign language instruction had to "dumbed down" because most students wouldn't have understood the terms being thrown around. In French, for example, you create the past tense of a verb by conjugating either avoir (to have) or etre (to be), then using a special ending for your action verb. Whether you use avoir or etre is determined entirely by whether or not your main verb is transitive or intransitive (one that has vs one that doesn't necessarily need a direct object). It's a simple distinction, but even at university level we were reduced to memorizing an mnemonic device (DR AND MRS VAN DER TRAMPS) to list the few intransitive verbs. Had the students received even minor direct grammar instruction, the distinction between the two would have been easy; as it is, there was much hand-wringing from students over the fact that a few uncommon verbs were not in the mnemonic but were intransitive.

          So, to summarize, there are valid arguments for both teaching approaches. I am personally of the opinion that we learn grammar much more through absorption than rote memorization; this also makes it one of the most difficult subjects to teach to minority groups or recent immigrants who aren't immersed in the "proper" grammar 24/7. I can see why "whole language" grammar learning has its advocates - immersion methods are generally considered the best way to learn a foreign language, so why not apply them to our native language? On the flip side, though, ignoring the more technical instruction can substantially weaken a student's performance in other subjects. In the end, it's really a philosophical debate, like many in education, that boil down to personal or institutional preference.
  • by FireStormZ ( 1315639 ) on Monday July 07, 2008 @11:17AM (#24084997)

    Its not like a computer can teach you to think critically, they also stifle real research skills. Why poor though references or bother to learn the proper way to annotate them if you can just google for a text string?

    Kids don't learn Latin anymore but they are learning to 'use' computers at the age of 11, get real. As a tool they are useful but in order to be a tool the user must have some basic skills that becoming computer dependent at that age will seriously retard. I really think there is no call for kids to be using computers as part of the educational experience before high-school.

    • by The End Of Days ( 1243248 ) on Monday July 07, 2008 @11:21AM (#24085075)

      There is very little value in learning how to do things the old way when the new way is all that will ever be used.

      Following your logic, we should all be hunting and gathering instead of shopping for food because now we can't feed ourselves, either.

      Let us retard all progress in the name of tradition because... well, there is no good reason. But it would make you happy, I suppose.

      • I imagine knowing Latin would assist with understanding the roots of (and perhaps learning the languages of) Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.

        Lately I have been asking accountants and financial traders that I meet if they can do long division, after all it is a skill one learns in primary school at around the age of 10 or 11. Very few remember!

        So in programming we can get away with not knowing how a red-black tree works, we just use the C++ map template. Is there no validity in learning how a red-black

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by cptnapalm ( 120276 )

          I remember reading of a program that studied the effects of teaching Latin. Not only did they do better in English, they also did better in history. Naturally, the program was cancelled.

      • by FireStormZ ( 1315639 ) on Monday July 07, 2008 @11:30AM (#24085231)

        And following your logic we should not be teaching math at all just how to use a calculator.. See how silly following logic can be!

        • by SBacks ( 1286786 ) on Monday July 07, 2008 @11:51AM (#24085585)

          And following your logic we should not be teaching math at all just how to use a calculator.. See how silly following logic can be!

          Its not that teaching math is outdated. Its that memorizing multiplication tables might be outdated.

          The main point of modern math class is how to translate real life problems into numerical equations. Once you can do that, solving those equations is rather trivial.

          • by Descalzo ( 898339 ) on Monday July 07, 2008 @12:06PM (#24085843) Journal
            Memorizing the multiplication table is not outdated yet. It might never be. Me being able to quickly, accurately estimate totals in the grocery store is quite a benefit. Being able to factor polynomials without having to use my calculator was also handy.

            My state (Utah) dropped the times tables from the 3rd and 4th grade math core for a couple of years. Disaster ensued immediately.
            • by lahvak ( 69490 )

              Memorizing multiplication table was always outdated. On the other hand, understanding how numbers and arithmetic operations work and what can you do with them is a skill that cannot be replaced by a calculator or computer. Gaining this understanding can, IMHO, be aided by a use of calculator or computer, however that is not what seems to be happening at most of our schools.

          • by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Monday July 07, 2008 @12:06PM (#24085845) Journal

            Indeed it is... IF you've got the multiplication tables memorized...

            Learning is about making connections. Memorizing is about having the bits in place to connect. Education requires both.

            • by the phantom ( 107624 ) on Monday July 07, 2008 @12:33PM (#24086249) Homepage

              Learning is about making connections. Memorizing is about having the bits in place to connect. Education requires both.

              That is, I think, one of the most eloquent and succinct comments I have seen about memorization, and its role in education. Do you mind if I use it in the future?

            • by lahvak ( 69490 ) on Monday July 07, 2008 @12:36PM (#24086303) Homepage Journal

              Indeed it is... IF you've got the multiplication tables memorized...

              I have a PhD in math, and I still don't have the multiplication tables memorized. I can multiply without problems, because these things are very easy to figure out. In fact, I thing that should my school require me to memorize the tables, I probably would not choose to study math. And if I did, I would probably be worse at it.

              Learning is about making connections. Memorizing is about having the bits in place to connect. Education requires both.

              True. However, after memorizing "the tables", how much space is there to make connections? There are number of fascinating connections related to multiplication that can be discovered after memorizing just a few simple rules. And after kids spend several months memorizing and drilling multiplication tables, how much time and how much desire is there to make connections?

            • Thanks you. Very well said.

          • by quanticle ( 843097 ) on Monday July 07, 2008 @12:25PM (#24086147) Homepage

            The main point of modern math class is how to translate real life problems into numerical equations. Once you can do that, solving those equations is rather trivial.

            While that is the point of the math classes I took in high school, I'm not at all sure that's the best method to be teaching mathematics. My high school used the "Chicago Math" method of teaching, which focuses heavily on "real-life" examples and encourages heavy use of computers and calculators to ease computation.

            It seemed like a pretty good method at the time, but when I got into the electrical engineering program in college, I found myself woefully under-prepared mathematically. I found that the de-emphasis on computation had caused my basic knowledge of mathematical formulae to atrophy. And, since math is cumulative, I found that I had a very difficult time catching up (especially in calculus), since my knowledge of basic algebraic principles was never developed properly. Indeed, this lack of basic skills led me to switch to the computer science program, since I found that discrete math and set theory were easier to learn, as I was learning them from first principles, making my lack of algebraic preparation less of a hindrance.

            So, while its tempting to say that computation and practice are irrelevant, the fact remains that these things do matter, because its the practice that fixes the knowledge in the student's head. My father learned math in India, which has a much heavier emphasis on practice, and, even now, he's still much better at algebra and calculus than I am, because he's practiced it so much more than I have.

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by R2.0 ( 532027 )

              I had the opposite experience, to my benefit. I went to a Catholic HS which was very traditional, and the highest level math class was "Elementary Mathematical Analysis", which was heavy trig with some differentials near the end. No calculators allowed except for particular items. Mightily we bitched, not being able to take "Pre-Calc", but the nun said "Trust me - this will better prepare you for what you will face in college calculus". So we learned what all the trig functions meant from the most basic

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by scamper_22 ( 1073470 )

            As an engineer and a teacher,

            Some people think doing long division is somehow better than using a calculator. Yet, I question this as you all 95% of people do is memorize the steps. You memorize the steps on what buttons to press on your calculator. You memorize the steps on how to do long division. Neither gains you any insights into division as a concept.

            There is a 5% of more gifted students who actually understand how long division works and take some conceptual aspects from it in terms of number the

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by quanticle ( 843097 )

              Yet, I question this as you all 95% of people do is memorize the steps. You memorize the steps on what buttons to press on your calculator. You memorize the steps on how to do long division. Neither gains you any insights into division as a concept.

              Its true, that, when learning long division, all you do is "memorize the steps". However the steps are more generalizable. For example, if you know how to do long division with numbers, its a fairly simple jump to get long division with symbols. Yet, if you're doing division on your calculator, you'll have a much harder time figuring out how to divide with symbols, since you've never been exposed to the actual division algorithm (all your division took place inside of a black box).

              In other words, learnin

          • Innumeracy (Score:4, Insightful)

            by SirGarlon ( 845873 ) on Monday July 07, 2008 @01:48PM (#24087255)

            Once you can do that, solving those equations is rather trivial.

            Yes - if you know how to do basic arithmetic. Almost all the arithmetic I do in real life, I do in my head -- usually just approximated to two significant figures.

            I worry that kids who don't learn multiplication tables will become paralyzed by an everyday question like "which carpet is more expensive, $1.95/square foot or $39.99/square yard?"

            Ultimately, the point of translating real life problems into mathematical equations is to get a solution. If someone can't at least get a ballpark solution on his own, I submit he's functionally innumerate.

        • I suppose it is pointless to explain, but anyone who thinks calculation is what mathematics is about does not have any understanding of the subject. Often it is necessary to be able to perform or follow a calculation, but it is nowhere near the essence of the subject. For example the proof of Fermat's Last Theorem was great mathematics but it was not related in any way with some super duper calculator. The Riemann hypothesis is an area of great mathematical ferment with not a calculator in sight. Long divis

      • by fiannaFailMan ( 702447 ) on Monday July 07, 2008 @12:02PM (#24085793) Journal
        When I was a design engineer, I was a better CAD draughtsman because I understood the underlying principles of geometry that you learn best when working with a pencil and compass. Similarly, if you want to be a better linguist in any one or combination of European languages, a grounding in Latin would greatly improve your chances. And if you want to be a better cook, you'll stand a much better chance if you go back to basics and learn how to cook something from the raw ingredients instead of putting a TV dinner in the microwave.
      • Following your logic, we should all be hunting and gathering instead of shopping for food because now we can't feed ourselves, either.

        Not at all. I'm not sure that we should go back to hunting and gathering, but, I am sure that more knowledge of basic survival and emergency preparedness procedures would be of benefit to society. There are far too many people who'd be completely lost if there was even a short interruption in services such as electricity or cell phone service.

        Let us retard all progress in the name of tradition because... well, there is no good reason. But it would make you happy, I suppose.

        There's a useful quote here: "There are two types of fools. One says, 'This is old, and therefore good.' The other says, 'This is new and therefore better.'" Whil

      • Following your logic, we should all be hunting and gathering instead of shopping for food because now we can't feed ourselves, either.

        I wouldn't go that far but I do believe that certain experiences make us better people. There are some basics to life that shouldn't be skipped. If you eat, it's important to understand that something had to die so that you could live. If you're a vegetarian, growing some of your own food can give you an appreciation of the cycle of things, how dung and dirt and seeds can

    • by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Monday July 07, 2008 @11:24AM (#24085131) Journal

      I have a small issue with your argument. As tools become more complex, learning to use them becomes more complex. Reasoning and logical thinking are not harmed/hampered by having complex tools available. They are harmed by teachers who use complex tools to avoid doing the harder part, teaching kids to reason and think. Sure, a laptop or calculator makes fast work of math problems yet structuring a mathematical proof is something the calculator won't do. If kids want to copy someone else's work off the Internet, teachers need to ensure that testing requires the child to prove they know the material.

      Did nailing guns make carpenters less skillful?

      Did spreadsheets make accountants less skillful?

      and so on....

      You are blaming the problem on the tool instead of the teacher.

      • Is a computer easier or harder to use now that its more sophisticated? As a tool I have little problems with computers in the class when someone can read/write/and do math and *maybe* even a useful root language like Latin at an 8th grade level..

      • Did nailing guns make carpenters less skillful?

        Nail guns allowed less skillful people to work as carpenters, to do an adequate job in situations where they would have not been able to do so before. Nail guns also allowed skilled carpenters to do simple jobs more easily and quickly.

        If all you need is a wall frame of 2x4s, a carpenter of limited skill with a nailgun will do. But if you want fine furniture built, you need someone with more skills, who knows the properties of different sorts of wood and different types of joints and fasteners. Before nailguns, every carpenter knew these things.

        I notice that TFA - like most in praise of computers in the classroom - makes no mention of test scores or any other metric that demonstrates that students are actually learning better ithis way than in more traditional classrooms.

        I recommend Cliff Stoll's books Silicon Snake Oil and High Tech Heretic.

        Worse, this system doesn't just use computers, it is totally reliant on them.

        Says the principal in TFA, "Why would we ever buy a book when we can buy a computer? Textbooks are often obsolete before they are even printed." But that's not true: fundamental fields change slowly, a ten year old geometry or physics or art textbook will do quite well. And students can take them home, read them on the bus or under a tree, do homework anywhere - apparently this system pretty much requires kids to have computers at home. Grandma, who's uninterested in all these modern gadgets, picks you up after school and you stay at her house until your mom gets off work? Can't do homework while you wait, no computer.

        • Did nailing guns make carpenters less skillful?

          Nail guns allowed less skillful people to work as carpenters, to do an adequate job in situations where they would have not been able to do so before. Nail guns also allowed skilled carpenters to do simple jobs more easily and quickly.

          If all you need is a wall frame of 2x4s, a carpenter of limited skill with a nailgun will do. But if you want fine furniture built, you need someone with more skills, who knows the properties of different sorts of wood and different types of joints and fasteners. Before nailguns, every carpenter knew these things.

          A master carpenter would have this knowledge, a journeyman carpenter might have some insights and limited experience, and an apprentice carpenter might know how to hold a hammer. It is the same today, an apprentice carpenter with a nailgun is still an apprentice carpenter. With over 30 years experience as a carpenter in trades from housing to furniture to scenery, I can tell you that very few carpenters know what you mention until the end of their journeyman training. Few people hiring carpenters believe th

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by shrikel ( 535309 )
          "...Textbooks are often obsolete before they are even printed." But that's not true: fundamental fields change slowly...

          The problem is that your response displays reason, which has little place in the bureaucracy and money sink that is the modern public school system. After all, why use a crummy old textbook when you can get a new one for only $35-50 (times the number of kids, times how many books each needs).

          I remember reading a truly mind-boggling article about the textbook development and selection p

    • Kids don't learn Latin anymore

      Aside from learning one of the foundations of our language I'm not sure why you pick this of all things to be upset about. I never learned Latin and I speak the english real good.

      • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

        At least you can write full sentences and spell correctly, unlike the Latin-knowing original poster.

    • Kids don't learn Latin anymore

      Because it has no practical application for 99.999% of them. There's a reason it's a dead language and it has nothing to do with computers.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Emb3rz ( 1210286 )

        Bi-nary, Dec-imal, Hex-a-dec-imal... Right. Latin has nothing to do with computers.

        • by 0racle ( 667029 )
          And you had to learn Latin to understand and know how to apply those prefixes and suffixes right? Those are borrowed from Latin and were borrowed a long time ago; they are now a part of modern English, no Latin required.
    • by eln ( 21727 ) on Monday July 07, 2008 @11:35AM (#24085327) Homepage

      While I think computer usage in this particular school may be a little overboard, I don't see it as a major problem overall. Kids use computers all the time, and are starting at a younger and younger age. Computers can be a very good tool for these sorts of things, and I'm not sure how they can really retard basic skills other than possibly handwriting. In that regard, kids could hardly end up with worse handwriting than most of their parents, even if they never write anything by hand outside of their handwriting classes in Kindergarten through 3rd grade.

      Most kids in my experience will use computer learning games because they're more interesting than long sheets of math problems. However, if given the choice between that same computer game and, say, a particularly interesting worksheet (maybe one of those where you color a picture different colors based on the answers to the math problems), the choice is not always so clear cut.

      The basic upshot is that kids will learn best if they're engaged in the material. A computer game can engage them, but a particularly good teacher or a particularly good set of handouts can engage them just as well. A good education will come from a mix of various techniques to keep the kids from becoming bored with any one thing and disengaging from the process.

      As for kids not learning Latin anymore, I think that's just because Latin is not particularly useful to anyone not in a specialized field (like medicine or law), and is thus not worth spending a ton of time on in the earlier grades. If you're interested in joining a profession that uses Latin, or planning on competing in a spelling bee, you'll learn Latin eventually. Otherwise, you're going to be bored out of your mind in a class you have no use for, and will eventually forget most of it anyway.

      • by cmat ( 152027 )

        Why should learning be fun? So that kids want to learn?

        Math is a particularly interesting instance of this, as it is the area I am currently studying. I see two parts to learning mathematics (this may be generalized to learning anything): 1) understanding and, 2) execution. The understanding part is where a good teacher (and perhaps teaching aids, such as software) makes the difference. This is what gives a student the mental framework to be able to do the math. I think that the execution, is incredibl

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I was 'gifted' on the computer (as I am sure most of the people on here who are around my age were). I used the computer for things I was not supposed to. I circumvented the "deep freeze" lock they had on their systems in grade 5.

      I as banned from school computer use until High School (which is grade 9-12 here).

      I would have performed the exact same with or without a computer. In high school it pained me to use their computers so I did most of it the old fashioned way. When it came to looking up obscure thing

    • Kids don't learn Latin anymore but

      Kids don't learn COBOL anymore, either (or, for my generation, Pascal). Latin is great for cunning linguists and those interested in Etymology, but schools these days have enough trouble passing on the PRACTICAL things to students that focusing on marketable job skills is more important than reading the Illiad in it's original format.

    • Pencils don't teach you to think critically, they also stifle real research skills (not to mention causing you to write sentence fragments).

      You said it later: a computer is a tool, just like any other. Its a really useful one though, and very prevalent in our civilization. Kids learn to use pencils at age four, why not computers?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Idbar ( 1034346 )
      Oh! But there IS something a "free computer" can teach you, and that's loyalty to the brand. That's probably the main thing I can think of right now.
  • by MiceHead ( 723398 ) * on Monday July 07, 2008 @11:17AM (#24085011) Homepage
    Forget flying cars; this is how the mysteeeeeerious future is supposed to be. I still remember sitting in E&M class back in the day, thinking that if, instead of static images drawn on chalkboard, the charges and fields were animated and interactive, it'd all sink in much quicker. Ditto pretty much everything that has to do with classical mechanics.

    Maybe this already exists, but I'd always hoped for a good intersection of games and education that actually encourages students to learn in a lecture setting. "Edutainment" has generally been pretty awful, but I bet there's a way we could integrate learning into an MMORPG such that you can (say) use a knowledge of kinetics to advance your character.

    jenious1: I now understand Newton's Laws, so I built a catapult that demolished your castle. Kekekeke!

    !pnk101: o yeah??? well im still beating u up at lunch u nerd!!!!1

    jenious1: Snap!
  • Anyone seen a comparison of final test scores for kids learning via computers and kids learning the "old fashioned" way (books and paper) as in "does one group do better than the other?"

    • by SBacks ( 1286786 )

      It's not just final test scores that matter. Despite what No Child Left Behind says, the purpose of school is not just to memorize a bunch of facts in order to do well on a test. School's purpose is to teach kids the skills they need in order to be successful in their adult life.

      And, I have a hard time seeing how being familiar with computers could be considered an unhelpful skill.

      • Tests in mathmatics and reading/writing are not simply about memorizing "a bunch of facts", as say History might be. Tests in those subjects test if the student learned the subject matter and can apply it to solve a problem. If you can't solve the math problem on a test, how are you going to use what you've learned in "the real world".
      • by koan ( 80826 )

        Missing my point, I want to know which works better over all, while computers may work well for some and not others, and vice versa what happens to the actual learning process?
        If a child does well in school using a computer but gets a job that requires reading from a book how well does the learning translate?
        How well does information stick, and could it be the kids like it because it's easier to goof off?
        Do blinking lights and pictures really make for better learning? In addition I am concerned for a "all d

  • I remember when I was that young, we used Apple computers in school, which had a math flash-card type application. This concept isn't very new, however what IS new and interesting is that they're using the laptops to also completely replace books.

    I guess one of the problems would be giving a student study material to take home, since they return the laptops at the end of the day. I'm usually one to assume everyone has a computer with broadband at home, but this may not always be the case.

    Still, it's nic
  • A hard one. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by alexborges ( 313924 ) on Monday July 07, 2008 @11:23AM (#24085115)

    IT in education is too young. I dont think the right models for education have been developed anyhow, much less good software that supports them.

    The thing is that education is severely tied into media: from the greeks and their oral traditions, to the medieval cult of the books, to the discovery of print, education has been transformed by the media in which we store and confer information.

    Today, that media is becoming a universally accessible cloud. I think current trends of education that favor the use of PowerPoint as a better tool than a blackboard are ok in terms of efficiency, and they might really convey information in a better way.

    The question that I make myself is not about efficiency, but about the difference between information and knowledge. Yeah, sure, tech conveys info. it also MAY convey knowledge of SOME things that are encodable in our new tool (the net, for example).

    But knowledge? Is viewwing a simulation of a physic phenomenon the same as taking the weighs in the labs and proving them yourself? Is it the same viewing a simulation of the parabolic shot, than actually going into the lab, meassuring force, launching a thingie, see how far it got and THEN using newtons tools to see if they still work.

    In a word: can we ever substitute experience through tech?

    Worse: do we WANT to do that?

    • Some children don't have the tools or time to test parabolic shots...in this case watching animations is better than looking at pictures in a textbook.

      I would say a mix of methods is probably the healthiest.

    • "actually launching" something and all those other 'lab' activities didn't teach you anything. That's not how the knowledge was conveyed.

      The structure of the lab assignments was always too rigid. It was just an exercise in following instructions. (Which, in it's own way, is a good lesson; however,it doesn't teach you anything about physics.)

      The biggest result of the lab exercises wasn't knowledge, but interest. It made what the instructor said become real instead of abstract. It sparked something in so

  • She is one of 650 students who receive an Apple Inc laptop each day at a state-funded school in Boston.

    What is she going to do with all those computers they are giving her? One is probably enough.

  • Modern media methods that provide interactive feedback on a student progress are a good thing IMHO. Like any other tool however, it can be utilized in a fruitful fashion, or it can be abused.

    A lot of the education interaction can be automated, but I still see a need for evaluation and special needs scenarios. Some kids which need either specialized guidance to make headway, or gifted kids that could deal with an accelerated program. Seriously, some kids want to take on calculus and differential equations in

  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Monday July 07, 2008 @11:39AM (#24085397)

    Funny how kids used to do a lot better when schools didn't really care about kids' self-esteem and made them work diligently on paper. The focus on using computers to make things better is just a distraction from the fact that the average public school is literally just a tax-supported daycare center that provides some education.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by value_added ( 719364 )

      Funny how kids used to do a lot better when schools didn't really care about kids' self-esteem and made them work diligently on paper.

      Oooh. I expect you'll be slammed with all sorts of accusations for that bit of political incorrectness. My own opinion is the same, though I'm suspicious that a good chunk of the funding available for schools is tied up in ancillary efforts (self-esteem programs consultants, and administrators, among others) and hence not much is available for textbooks and clean bathrooms.

      • by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Monday July 07, 2008 @01:21PM (#24086933) Journal

        "more teachers" does not improve schools any more than "more gristle" improves a meal. It is quality of teachers that is important, and class-size limitations hurt this effort:

        Some teachers and classes are naturally better suited to larger class sizes than others. If everyone teaches 30 kids, you can't take advantage of the ones that could handle 200, and you can't use that advantage to support the ones that can handle only 12.

        For example, there's no reason why phys.ed. must be limited to only thirty students (except the very early grades where school is as much babysitting as anything). On the other hand, some grammar or math classes might require more individual attention than one thirtieth of a period can represent.

  • it depends (Score:3, Informative)

    by fermion ( 181285 ) on Monday July 07, 2008 @11:40AM (#24085401) Homepage Journal
    For those who seek an primary education, which is all that many people want, I think technology provides a more entertaining method to study basic facts. For instance, the technology of injection molding can produce cheap identical blocks that can be used to explore many concepts, as well as foster some higher level creativity skills. We see this in other technologies where a machine might confirm a correct answer and provide some automated positive feedback. The benefit for the primary classroom is clear, as entertained children require much less force to be placed into compliance. As a result, it is arguable, that more of the student have the opportunity, and in fact may, learn more of the facts.

    At the secondary level, it seems to me that the impact in the technology itself. For instance, learning to use a teletype machine did not provide a long time marketable skill, but it did provide an opportunity to learn a novel device, which was cool. It made me learn how to learn. Likewise when one might learn to use a EEPROM programmer, vi, a drill, a saw, or even drive a car. All of these are learning the technology, and motivated students will learn how the technology works, and how it does not work, which is what we want anyway.

    This continues to college until technology is mostly used to help us learn more efficiently. An computer index can be more efficient than a printed index. Typing paper in LaTeX can be more efficient that on a typewriter or in lower tech word processing program. The list goes on.

    What I think is really important, though, is that kids are allowed to become familiar with technology, and it's use. I see classrooms where there is no play time with machines. I see primary school kids being taught by rote the parts of a computer, which little context of what a computer does. I see teachers telling students to open the internet by clicking IE. In this way technology changes the classroom very little, as we are still teaching facts with little context in reality.

  • Schoolboard cutout (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bugs2squash ( 1132591 ) on Monday July 07, 2008 @11:42AM (#24085431)
    So I went to visit my local high school in Georgia and I spent a little time talking with some teachers. While I was there they were setting up a presentation on a projector from a PC, it wasn't using powerpoint, rather some vastly inferior-looking custom software. Anyhow, I digress...

    I was struck by how much it appeared to lock the teacher into the detail of the curriculum. It seemed to me that the main point of the presentation method was to confine what the teacher could say to the class.

    My impression was that the technology was being used to micromanage teachers more than to enrich the learning experience for the students.
    • That's a case of bad policies, rather then technology being inherently a bad thing.

      Teachers should be allowed to produce material that is relevant to their class, in which case technology has a lot of potential to provide a class with a more interesting lesson.

      In the UK most schools are now using "interactive whiteboards" which combine a projector with a touch sensitive whiteboard that digitises anything written on it. While that just seems like a nice gimick to most people, it actually allows the teacher t

  • > "The dog ate my homework" is no excuse here. Sure, now it's...my hard drive melted or the server's down. Seriously? Kids are starting too young. I love how people are worried that people are too connected to their technology and that kids aren't getting out enough anymore, and yet, we're starting them with a need for technology at the age of 11. Has anyone else been at the supermarket when the computers go down? No one knows what the hell to do. It's a madhouse. Technology can be exceptionally help
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Rob Kaper ( 5960 )

      Sure, now it's...my hard drive melted or the server's down.

      Seriously? Kids are starting too young.

      You're never too old to learn that you shouldn't depend on a remote system for files you definitely need for a presentation or in this case classwork. USB sticks got popular for a reason. That also removes the hard drive melt problem, it's quite hard to maintain that excuse when you could save to the USB stick which can be verified to malfunction or not.

  • Classroom Tool (Score:5, Informative)

    by lymond01 ( 314120 ) on Monday July 07, 2008 @11:50AM (#24085579)

    I recently saw a demo of a classroom tool. It played upon the peer aspect of a classroom, rather than teacher-to-student. It allowed the professor, with a tablet PC, to actively write on powerpoint slides, save the edits, etc. Nothing new there. But from the student perspective, anyone with a tablet could take their own notes the same way, watching along with the slides on their own computer (those without a tablet could type as it was web-based).

    In addition, there was a blogging feature -- a few students with tablet PCs could become "bloggers" for the class, and students could tune their browsers to the blogging students' pages, and watch what they were writing.

    Peer respect kept it mostly to good notes but the professor said that even if she heard the class laughing at something the blogger wrote (she never actually looked at the blogs), at least the kids were awake and possibly engaged in some part of the content. More than that, it let others consider parts of the lecture they might not have before -- sort of a group collaboration, but without the professor. A blogger might note something on a slide you hadn't thought of yet, or do a quick visible search on a word you hadn't really focused on, but upon reading the definition, more made sense.

    It was really interesting and I felt a very different way of performing in the classroom. Kids staying engaged is professor's number one concern -- not every teacher is dynamic and exciting. Using a tool like this kept the kids interested because it was what they were used to: reading other kids' notes and perspectives on topics.

    The tool was put out by UC San Diego:

    Ubiquitous Presenter [ucsd.edu]

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by halcyon1234 ( 834388 )

      My fiance, a highschool science teacher, recently ran an experiment for her specialization course. The project was designed to explore if technology can be used to support classroom learning (as opposed to the more common "idea" of replacing classroom teaching-- or when technology is just used for technology's sake)

      The thesis was, basically, since students are already familiar with and enjoy using technology, the implementing a certain piece of technology would allow them to access resources they didn't hav

  • most of the technology here goes to complete waste in normal classes because the students generally know more about the machines than teachers. Now, if they incorporated COMPUTING instead of computers, that would be sweet. Imagine using a geometry class and Object Orientation to simultaneously teach two things -- better? Students will KNOW those definitions because they will have taught them to the computer, and they will have some background in different methods of programming -- which is a useful tool
  • Not for everyone... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by EmagGeek ( 574360 )

    My neighbor's kid was suspended from school for refusing to use his school-issued laptop to take notes. He preferred pen and paper.

    He was telling me that several times per class, instruction grinds to a halt because of computer problems, or from the kids having difficulty drawing diagrams on the laptops amidst the text notes. It was also damn-near impossible to write down equations in math class, so he gave up and started using paper. When he refused to use the laptop, other kids followed, and he was ultima

  • I don't know, because I haven't seen the software they use, but I'll bet the big stack of $1 bills in my wallet that it's all T/F and multiple choice.

    And that's crap.

    Such testing only tests the ability of a student to pass T/F or multiple choice tests. When you can solve a math problem when it's only you and the problem on the page, OK, then you understand what you've been taught.

    If you don't know what I'm talking about, go read an old Princeton Review SAT or GRE book, they talk about it at some length.

    We'

  • by halber_mensch ( 851834 ) on Monday July 07, 2008 @12:49PM (#24086501)

    An Apple Inc. laptop a day keeps the Norton Disk Doctor away...

  • Congrats. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zartacla ( 1320359 )
    The tech approach to raise a generation of retards. These institutions rock !

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