Weighing The Costs And Benefits Of Laptops In Schools

from the sounds-good-in-theory... dept

Having just posted (and disputed) a study saying that internet access may be harmful to teens, Salon is running an article looking at the book Never Mind the Laptops, which apparently makes a very strong case for why every student should have a laptop in school. The book is apparently quite well written and goes through a ton of historical information (on both sides of the debate) and explains why putting laptops in the hands of all kids is the best thing we could do for the education system. However, the Salon piece makes a very interesting juxtaposition with the book, as the writer, Andrew Leonard, thinks about how his own children's schools are struggling to not lay off teachers, and wonders how they could ever possibly afford to give a laptop to every student. It's yet another situation where the idea sounds good, and probably is a good idea for the kids - but has too high an upfront price for it ever to get approved. It's really too bad, as the case studies we wrote about the experiment in Maine to give every kid a laptop, suggest that the program was doing wonders for students.


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  1.  
    identicon
    dorpus, Oct 1st, 2003 @ 1:30am

    Teen cults

    With laptops, it will become easier for epidemics of anorexia, self-injury, mass suicide, or other sociopathic behaviors to spread. Wait till we hear about entire classrooms of schoolkids that kill themselves, or a facial scarring craze among 13-year-old girls.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    AMetamorphosis, Oct 1st, 2003 @ 8:32am

    Re: Teen cults

    Come on dorpus ...
    I've spoken up to defend your right to think differently, but this post doesn't have to do with the topic so much as your anger from a previous story.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    AMetamorphosis, Oct 1st, 2003 @ 8:37am

    A great advantage

    I would love to see the advent of laptops available for each and every student for numerous reasons:
    1. It places personal responsibility into the hands of students and is a good lesson on what they will encounter in the real world.
    2. Computers are the way the future is going and those that are not computer literate will fast become 3rd class citizens.
    3. Assignments and books can be downloaded and uploaded onto laptops creating less work for teachers and students and a faster more efficient way to review these items.
    4. In the long run, a laptop for each student HAS to be cheaper than a workstation and numerous books.
    5. It allows students to research while learning and can be combined to spur intelligent ( HEAR ME MIKE AND DORPUS !!! ) debates that can enlighten and teach.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Oliver Wendell Jones, Oct 1st, 2003 @ 8:38am

    Re: Teen cults

    This is the very reason that TechDirt needs a way to allow users to block comments from other users. If I would NEVER see another comment by Dorpus I would be happy.

    Some days (like today) when I try to read respones and all I can see are Dorpus's retarded and off-topic comments that I wonder why I even bother.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Munich, Oct 1st, 2003 @ 8:41am

    I dunno...

    I think perhaps much later in school a laptop would be good to start leaning some of the skills needed in the work force, but for primary and a lot of secondary eduction, the problem with our schools is not that the kids don't have laptops in their hands. PCs don't magically teach kids to read, do math, write or think.

    Sort of like how giving every six year old a calculator doesn't make them match scholars. You got to teach the basics first and if you don't teach students simple math, the calculator becomes a crutch, not a learning tool (You can already hear this comment: "I don't know anything about our Constitution, Shakespeare, or history, but why should I when I can just Google it?")

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    AMetamorphosis, Oct 1st, 2003 @ 8:45am

    Re: I dunno...

    Your point about " googling " it is quite valid.
    And you're right ... the laptop is only a tool ... but so is a pen , a tablet of paper, & a book.
    Its sorta like the " Guns don't kill people ... people kill people " argument.
    It's not the fault of the technology ( laptops ) if the teachers we employ do not properly train the students on the use.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Chris, Oct 1st, 2003 @ 10:27am

    No Subject Given

    It seems to me that the role of schools should be to give the kids the basic reading and communication skills necessary to take advantage of the opportunities pervasive computing will provide. The school doesn't have to provide the pervasive computing environment though. They should at least get to a point where they are accomlishing job 1 first. I think some school administrators may see free laptops as a shortcut to teaching the core skills. It won't work.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    AMetamorphosis, Oct 1st, 2003 @ 10:40am

    Re: No Subject Given

    Sadly, communication skills revolve more and more around the use of a computer. Teaching a person how to read & write is pointless if they don't know how to effectively put those skills to use ... unless you want their class motto to be " Would you like Fries with that ? "

    But you are right about some school admins seeing free laptops as a shortcut to teaching core skills ... it's just that core skills now include BASIC computer usage on an everyday basis.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    mortram, Oct 1st, 2003 @ 10:52am

    Re: No Subject Given

    We could get them all Game Boy Advances. That would be 1/10th the cost of a Laptop and the kids would employ them for the same functions.

    Or spend the price of a laptop on a compendium of classic texts and important learning materials which they would be free to spill on or write in or stuff into their bags or slam in the doors of their lockers.

    Laptops for kids? give me a break. Kids need computer skills to be employable? Guess what? They learn them pretty well on their own.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 1st, 2003 @ 11:00am

    Re: No Subject Given

    You evidently haven't dealt with a McMoron lately who can't input an order unless there is a picture of a hamburger or the register for them to punch.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Beck, Oct 1st, 2003 @ 12:10pm

    Basic Skills, New Technology

    When I was in elementary school they taught us how to do research using the card catalog and the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature. In junior high school we took typing classes to learn how to type. That way we would know how to use a typewriter to do our high school papers.

    Why shouldn't kids today learn how to do research using the technology that is available to them? Why shouldn't they learn to use computers just for the sake of knowing how to use them? They need to learn to use the tools that they will continue to use in higher education? That's exactly what we did, we just didn't use computers.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    mortram, Oct 1st, 2003 @ 4:33pm

    Re: Basic Skills, New Technology

    I think Google, Wikipedia, and Online Archives are all fairly simple tools for a child to master. Typing is already taught in most schools, and because they do not teach typing all day long, they do not need a computer for every student.

    Consider the students who would be under the provision of such a program and those who wouldn't:

    Wealthy and Status Quo areas whose homes already provide computers to their students (children) privately will get additional laptops.

    Poor Neighborhoods without the necessary fundamentals for a round education would not.

    Now what exactly is the benefit towards either community other than taking more money out of the general education fund and leaving both schools with less money for staples?


    Does anyone else consider these to be valid issues or are they simply too awed by the idea of proliferation of cool gadgets everywhere?

    Anyone ever had a junior high schooler do a "rice baby" or "egg baby" project? Are laptops in the hands of these kids any more durable? Not much. Who pays to clean the caprisun out of the keyboard?

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    bicjoe, Oct 23rd, 2003 @ 9:48pm

    Re: Basic Skills, New Technology

    um hi im a 16 year old student in arkansas and ill admit that i would like to be handed a free laptop. At my school we have to take 3 years of computer classes to graduate. So in the end we all learn how to use computers pretty darn well. Some of the students would take good care of there lpatops but the majority of the students would end up breaking them, and hey to the guy about the McMoron i work at subway and the regester is not as simple as it looks it takes a couple of days to learn all of those things you try it
    for example do you know waht a pippno is just think about it
    but all in all laptops for free at school is a bad idea beacuse we all already know all of the info about computers and most of us get mad beacuse they treat us all like where just plain stupid

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    mark, Nov 25th, 2003 @ 6:56pm

    Laptops

    A nice idea for the children of a new generation.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    dEwMe, Dec 6th, 2003 @ 2:39am

    Price is far too high

    Yes, It would be nice to be able to give every child a laptop. Yes, I agree it would be very helpfull in their education. At what cost? Who will pay for them? School districts can barley afford to pay teachers meager salaries as is. Taxes are way to high already so I can assure you tax measures to pay for this would never pass. Many families can't afford or don't want to have to buy a laptop. There's not enough corporate charity to do it either. How much are we talking about? Maybe they can get a volume discount and get the laptops at $700 USD a piece? Even if the kids turn them in they still need to be replaced every 2 - 3 years. Also, have you ever broken your laptop screen? The LCD is the most expensive peice on a laptop. A typicle repair charge for a cracked 15" LCD is $799 USD through an OEM service center. Before you assume it won't happen much consider we are talking about kids. You would never let your child run around with your fine china but we'll entrust laptops to them? They'll lose them. They'll get stolen and etc. The loss potential is huge. Maybe a better idea is stick with computer systems in the school and perhaps extended lab hours. Maybe districts could sponsor a group rate for buying home systems (or laptops) to the families of the students. Also the school could make it's resources available over the net as well as through a local dial up server for those without internet accounts. It would still be expensive but far less than handing out laptops. I do agree laptops are much better for students in college. I don't have a link but many colleges have wireles networks on campus and etc these days.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    a student, Dec 14th, 2003 @ 12:21pm

    Re: Teen cults

    you know what, you are a complete idiot, that like saying, oh no the tv is evil and all my kids are gonna grow up to kill people just so they can stalk their favorite csi members only to find out that they are fake. My freind YOU ARE STUPID, a complete dumbas s students should be given computers for school, because the internet is a valuable resource, and theres a computer filter called bess that would block out all those sites, (and more sites that are good for education,but nope bess is tehr and its gay as YOU ARE)

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Beth, Jan 20th, 2004 @ 11:16am

    Re: Teen cults

    This Is bull Shit

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Boredman, Apr 29th, 2004 @ 5:41am

    Re: No Subject Given

    I own a computer and they are great. Computers are new doorways. Try finding information on the Bismark in an ecyclopedia. Hardly anything. On the net I got an hour by hour time frame for the ship that sank the hood. Game boy advances? Most schools have banned them!
    Why don't you try physics if computers are so easy to learn?

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    that17yearoldguy, May 29th, 2005 @ 7:15pm

    Re: Teen cults

    if the kids are going to have a good round of anorexia, seld-injury, mass suicide computers are not the cause of it. These people already have problems and computers did not create them.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    dude, Jan 11th, 2006 @ 2:48pm

    Re: Teen cults

    yir an idiot

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Eliada Gudza, Jun 12th, 2006 @ 4:26am

    Deploying Laptops in Computer Labs

    I think Motram made some very good points. In the developing world we are not even talking about a laptop for every child for obvious reasons. I am currently involved in a project where we are deploying donated laptops to 10 secondary schools and the cahllenge is how do we keep them secure in one place? can laptops be used sustainbly without a mice? Is ist even fair to expect each kid to struggle until they get the jhang of the touch senitive pad?
    How about the issue of batteries. How long will they last and whats the best way to prolong their life span given that repalcing them will be costly.

    After all are laptops better than PCs if you are going to keep them in one place?

    Any advise and leassons learnt would be most welcome.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Eliada Gudza, Jun 12th, 2006 @ 4:26am

    Deploying Laptops in Compter Labs

    I think Motram made some very good points. In the developing world we are not even talking about a laptop for every child for obvious reasons. I am currently involved in a project where we are deploying donated laptops to 10 secondary schools and the cahllenge is how do we keep them secure in one place? can laptops be used sustainbly without a mice? Is ist even fair to expect each kid to struggle until they get the jhang of the touch senitive pad?
    How about the issue of batteries. How long will they last and whats the best way to prolong their life span given that repalcing them will be costly.

    After all are laptops better than PCs if you are going to keep them in one place?

    Any advise and leassons learnt would be most welcome.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Eliada Gudza, Jun 12th, 2006 @ 4:28am

    Deploying Laptops in Computer Labs

    I think Motram made some very good points. In the developing world we are not even talking about a laptop for every child for obvious reasons. I am currently involved in a project where we are deploying used donated laptops to 10 secondary schools and the challenges are:
    How do we keep them secure in one place?
    Can laptops be used sustainbly without a mice?
    Is ist even fair to expect each kid to struggle until they get the hang of the touch sensitive pad?
    How about the issue of batteries. How long will they last and whats the best way to prolong their life span given that repalcing them will be costly?
    After all are laptops better than PCs if you are going to keep them in one place?

    Any advise and leassons learnt would be most welcome.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2006 @ 11:15am

    this is relly cccccccccccccccoooooooooooooolllllllllllllllllllllllllll

     

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