Schools' Shortsighted Give-Em-Laptops Plans Failing

from the support? dept

There's been plenty of talk over the years about how computers will replace textbooks in the classroom and how students will just look stuff up online instead of having to tote around books. A fair number of schools give students laptops, but now, some of those programs are being stopped because they're not having any positive impact on students' education. That's not very hard to believe, since it sounds like many of the programs cited in the original article basically just threw laptops at students, and made very little effort to work them into the curriculum in a meaningful way. This point has been clear from the outset: simply giving kids computers (or people in developing nations, as with the $100 dollar OLPC) isn't going to do much. Computers, internet access and other technologies should be seen as useful tools, not silver bullets for education. Making them available is too often seen as a quick fix by politicians and administrators, but not creating some sort of plan around them essentially ensures long-term failure once the shine of being oh-so-high-tech wears off.


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  1.  
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    bbot, May 7th, 2007 @ 12:41am

    Well,

    I am a senior at a high school that recently rolled out a laptop program, and pretty much the only benefit to learning that I've seen is that teachers are now forced to publish their calendars.

    Not to minimize this. It is absolutely huge. No more guessing if you have homework! You know!

    Of course, the rollout was Apple MacBooks, which have a wide array of entertaining design defects, a small selection being: crappy backlights, poor shock resistence, easily damaged power adapter, lousy battery life, terrible build quality, really short battery life, misaligned backlight diffusers, bad battery life, flickering backlights, easily damaged keyboards, and did I mention a three hour battery life? And the battery life (which is bad) has only gotten worse as the cells age. You pretty much have to carry the power adapter with you if you want to use the computer.

    But if you ignore Apple's massive, incredible, mind-blowing failure of an attempt at designing a intel laptop, the program is a success!

     

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    chucklebutte, May 7th, 2007 @ 1:00am

    Hmmm. 3hr battery? sign me up lol now if it was 30min then we have a problem i say if the battery last more than 2hrs count your lucky stars

     

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    Bill M., May 7th, 2007 @ 1:14am

    Not so fast...

    It's true that the effect of giving out laptops would be *better* if they were integrated into the curriculum. However, there are benefits from having every kid *have* a laptop, and I'm not talking about a surge in MySpace registrations. The more people learn about technology earlier, the more comfortable they will be be using it long term. Furthermore, having these tools in people's hands creates moments where somebody says, "Hey, wouldn't it be a good idea if we could..." involving the computers being used to solve a problem. Look at it this way: If we were seeding schools with guns instead of laptops, I don't think anyone would be surprised to see an increase in shootings. Similarly, computers will have their effects whether they are formally integrated into curriculums and processes or not.

     

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    Peter Rock, May 7th, 2007 @ 2:13am

    Cost

    As of today, the cost-benefit is not worth it. Unfortunately, many are jumping to the extreme conclusion that laptops are useless. Once the price is low enough (and we are on our way), the cost-benefit will settle. This is why projects like OLPC should be praised. It is the first significant effort to begin attacking the cost-benefit barrier that currently exists.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2007 @ 3:08am

    When will we have The Jetsons level of computer integration, where instead of desks, we have computer consoles, and robots, and flying cars, and jetpacks!

    IT'S 2007! YOU LIED TO US, HANNA BARBERA! YOU LIED TO US!

     

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    Soap, May 7th, 2007 @ 3:50am

    Re: Cost

    As of today, the cost-benefit is not worth it. Unfortunately, many are jumping to the extreme conclusion that laptops are useless. Once the price is low enough (and we are on our way), the cost-benefit will settle. This is why projects like OLPC should be praised. It is the first significant effort to begin attacking the cost-benefit barrier that currently exists.
    Extreme? The laptops have been shown to have zero positive effect on test scores so how is the conclusion that they're not worth it extreme?

    As to the cost-benefit ratio, if there is no benefit then the laptops would have to be free just to break even. The only way the schools could come out ahead would be if the suppliers started actually paying the schools just to take the things. I don't see that happening anytime soon.

    By the way, which supplier are you shilling for anyway?

     

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    Kevin, May 7th, 2007 @ 4:11am

    Extreme? The laptops have been shown to have zero positive effect on test scores so how is the conclusion that they're not worth it extreme?

    I think that Peter (and also Bill) were trying to point out that there are more ways to measure the positive impact of deploying technology other than test scores. Unfrotuantely, since our current president launched his "no child left unscathed" educational policy, the educational system has become almost 100% focused on test scores and teacher credentials, rather than being focused on whether or not children are learning.

     

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    Soap, May 7th, 2007 @ 4:11am

    Re: Not so fast...

    It's true that the effect of giving out laptops would be *better* if they were integrated into the curriculum.
    It's not hard to do better than "no effect". I mean, that's a pretty low standard. Or maybe we should just be thankful it wasn't a negative effect.

    As for the rest of your argument, well, that same argument could be made for just about anything else also. For example, bags of money. So should the schools give every kid a bag of money? I mean, The more people learn about money earlier, the more comfortable they will be be using it long term. Furthermore, having bags of money in people's hands creates moments where somebody says, "Hey, wouldn't it be a good idea if we could..." involving the bags of money being used to solve a problem. Bags of money could have their effects whether they were formally integrated into curricula and processes or not.

     

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    Soap, May 7th, 2007 @ 4:22am

    Re:

    I think that Peter (and also Bill) were trying to point out that there are more ways to measure the positive impact of deploying technology other than test scores.
    Other than the profits of the sellers of these things, what would be those measurements you speak of?

     

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    DuroSoft, May 7th, 2007 @ 4:41am

    Well not exactly

    The laptop program at my school was extremely effective. They have been at it for almost 8 years now, and now everyone has tablets and there is a smartboard in almost every classroom. Mind you this is fairfield county, so there actually is enough money for such things, but truthfully, it works if implemented properly. We have been getting through almost 3x as much material as usual thanks solely to the introduction of these technologies. Properly implemented security policies prevent unintended use or abuse of the internet, etcetera. Its really not that hard...

    I don't go to that school anymore, but I still take all my notes on my laptop. In YO face!

     

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    RochesterMI, May 7th, 2007 @ 5:11am

    If there was a way to reduce the number of text books the kids have to lug to & from school each day, then perhaps there would be some benefit to this?

     

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    Shred303, May 7th, 2007 @ 6:21am

    At a huge disadvantage

    In this century, if you don't have a computer and online access you are at a huge disadvantage and I would speculate this is putting computers in the hands of people who wouldn't necessarily get one. Just by handing someone a computer doesn't give anyone the incentive to use it (or to further there education with it) but it does give the people who are inclined to use it the opportunity. Had my Aunt not purchased a Commadore VIC20 for my cousin in 1981 (?) I probably would have never become a programmer. Her three daughters on the other hand, well I don't know if they even have an email address.

     

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    A 9th Grade Dropout on a tangent!, May 7th, 2007 @ 6:21am

    I am a experienced and respected (at work lol) sof

    I don't comment much in the net but I think your article should use a gargantuan non-structured blob of thought about the benefit of the tablet library for every student. low power, no 3d support, no sound card, no hard drive.. just network support and a window manager. Don't let these guys give laptops to students.... its just foolish... but if every student had access to ALL known information.. live... on their own tablet... this is key to 21st century education.
    Let's actually be willing to admit we can and we should now upgrade a failing school system to be efficient, simpler for the all students to have access to it..... at will.

    For starters you could research the impact computers have on inquisitive but expelled/failing students that want to learn but haven't benefited from the "paper education methods" in official school.

    I think its shameful - we even right now have the tools to modernize education's tools.. by simple methods of replication.... to get rid of the conflicts... the discord of one teacher vs another vs the county vs the state, the administration and the outdated testing machine. Public education in my estimation has a small value to the final product -- the working adult.

    Also, not being interested in repetitive tasks that require rehashing the same common "trivial" subjects in an adolescent, and authoritative day care center run by traditional civil engineers and educators seemed to get me the ticket to "night school", or as I like to picture it a quarantine area for failed and undisciplined test subjects.

    These educators need to look at the huge picture here (I will attempt to describe it using my poorly guided computer-augmented experience and a dab of social empathy lol)


    1 I wasn't given tools.. oh wait, I mean a computer - until I was 21 years old.
    My career path was gloomy and I didnt even consider wasting my precious $450 I got every 2 weeks on more "education: college edition". I was a "roll tender" at a local newspaper agency. The most pathetic thing was that I was trying to improve myself but failing at getting access to the library after forgetting to bring back books.... books are silly dont you think? I have a hundred billion or more libraries now to read when I get the time thanks to my first computer. Of course I wont read even 4% of it really as I seem to only read what I need to know when I may feel I need to know how something works to get something done or learn something interesting just for the heck of it.

    (years ago I searched kazaa for "book" -unlimited results hacked in --- waited overnight for the search to run something near 100000 results.. and spent 8 hours one weekend choosing everything that interested me.

    I read it on demand, anything I wanted to know about, it was there, I took it and I didn't pay for it. This is MY definition of what "payment free" public education should be. I shortly became engrossed in computers and engineering, software design best practices, rudimentary physics, history books, works of fiction..whatever... the only thing I missed out in was face to face discussions with people learning the same subjects I was learning about... but oh wait... i guess I could have participated in forums but that dang anti-social behavior that I picked up from my fear of school and being ultimately turned off by people in general keeps me from letting loose the feedback of my learning for healthy arguments with people who are studying the same things I am.....

    Can a student get what they want at their desk? Lets for the common paper methods:

    If the student wants to know more about something, and dont have a personal tablet pc or access to the internet -- what do they do?

    1 school library/bookstore system
    Yay, a lackluster, outdated and oddly arranged library!
    Or a dull textbook designed to keep students busy replicating keywords into tests... overly wordy and out of sync with reality... not a good source of info


    2 public libraries
    the weakness of the borrow 1 copy of this and nothing over X amount of books, if they have it, for a arbitrary (fair?) number of days, based on ID card and fines, is just plain old fashioned paper base, government run, and likely more hassle than one inquisitor will try on demand... if they get a ride there.

    3 Strip Mall Bookstores
    yes I shoplifted a few books from barnes and noble when I was a education aged serf.. I am a indecent person for that, haha bite my law breaking detachable moral ass.

    I could have studied via:
    My Dads 486 he blew 3,000 for - I wasnt allowed to use unsupervised or not at all really... I might have typed "format" to see what happens..... he didnt like that possibility... hah it didnt matter I had Nintendo 8bit and it was way more interesting than DOS...(sorry dad)
    Also, he didnt have the internet, kazaa, a GUI... much like the crapintosh we played with in school with oregon trail and mathblaster weee its the same flash cards!!! That is the poorly executed future of education right there... the once a month visit to the Apple II to pretend the computer is a different way to do the same thing in class but funner... because it's pretending its fun with semi-cartoon characters by a rendering of a math problem... solve the math problem without the aid of a calculator so you can prove you enjoy doing boring shit the hard way to make a poorly drawn cartoon character to proceed to the next math problem.


    So if it wasnt for my first computer I wouldnt be anything I wanted to be because I couldnt know about what i wanted to know about when i wanted to know about it.

    Until it was mine to study at MY will, I was the slave to the more dominant species called "standard educated" and that I was going nowhere and slowly in their social training course.. until I got that first PC... and then all the information was there! I didnt need a babysitter or a jock to tell me how to use it! it was completely intuitive for a 21 year old 9th grade dropout! Great inventions guys!!
    Thanks for letting me access your shares, your websites, your conversations with eachother - the net is so open and I can observe it at will.

    I dont mean to boast like a egomaniac about my absorption of the equivalent computer science degree I got after leaving the 9th grade.. to study girls, and loud music and then somewhere between age 21 - 23 through MY study using a computer , the internet, a knowledgeable buddy if I wanted to debate a assumption, and P2P networks for my enterprise class software to install and reconfigure, break, fix, hack, crack, jack, and ebooks, not to mention all of the people who post on fourms and how these mediums are SUPERIOR to textbook/desk/student/teacher but here I need to illustrate the point that current public education isn't doing anything beneficial to students other than wasting time... the next step is to get it to the students before they get that next test.... and to discourage the unnatural, outdated, impractical GPA caste system:

    I am a goddamn good QA Engineer... I am a help to my team, I am asked to solve issues with the brains of the operation.. I give them an untainted view of the way I see things... not the way I was trained to... because I wasnt.
    I do things all day long that would be too much for the average INPUT/OUTPUT based thinker.
    My job is mostly R&D but they call me QA and thats what I do. I didnt have to make this up as I have been told all of these things by my employers/coworkers.
    I usually wait to tell them I am a 9th grader until they have shown me that my work is non-traditional, and "different" yet more valuable intl to them.... it is funny to watch reactions. Then they do one of two things:

    If they went to college or have children they say:
    You must go to school! Why didnt you?? And I explain this interest in self education through computer/internet. This spoils the incoming "more profit" lecture that obviously gets passed from one sucker to the next.

    If they didnt go to college and get some degree then they are self educated like me via book/computer and we have a laugh at it all.. quietly. because we dont want to offend the people who tried to get the same job but couldnt do more than INPUT/OUTPUT tasks. must be all of that trivia clogging the receptors... possibly a good idea would be to defragment that bio-drive. (Sadly requires a supervisor for every one of those hired)

    So I boast and I laugh and I ramble... but I know its because this was the thing that changed my ability to have an education. My PC/Library.


    I didnt have to go to school for.... and I do it well enough that I have a knack for reverse engineering things --- someone makes proprietary by relabeling open source tools like ldap, kerberos, tftp, etc so I can help my fellow coders RE-make a windows compatible Linux equivalent. In the end I was key to the R&D of a pretty nice app that got me some attention from other employers willing to risk it on the 9th grader trained by his computer.
    My uneducated brain did it.... it figured out how this overly complicated crap worked under the hood in it's closed source capitalist advantage mode setting, documented its behaviour and created a model of the software... but for linux. the coders coded it, I tested it, I ate my own dog food until it was finished.


    Far from the $800 a month jobs as a standard laborer/production droid ..thanks PC. shouldn't all students have a computer with all books?

    All I needed for education was a A K-6 2 300 mhz with 64 mbytes of ram! (some of you old timers can laugh at that, you've earned it)
    So shouldnt those cost --- possibly 10$ now? All a student needs is 4 GB of space right? Do these kids need 3D acceleration? Do they need space for their awful emo ipod pop music either? Do we need schools for anything except a day care center once this 10$ library is passed out to our future?

    The suggestion here is to get students to communally participate in groups of information sharing based on their interests. Let them have their own library, and let them learn what interests them! The idea is to get them to do it on a simple schedule together... a study group based on work with your fellow students on your collective projects. The students have the library and their choice of peers and stay in a common campus from 7-3 PM.... so parents can continue to go to work.

    Otherwise tele-eductation could cause complacency and wanderers to shoplift candy with their peers. Or worse, they could just stay at home! lol


    It can be done and I know its better for students who don't think in terms of:

    "your going to hate your life as a laborer, because there are so many great students that graduated our testing regimen and fit into our mold, sorry Mr defective kid.. you can get a GED if your tired of our grind - its really important you do so to even further prove via public record that your out of sync with the well trained and socially compliant test takers/data entry, fill in the blanks!--

    Motivate them with resources and examples of the merits of learning skills and information to make them powerfully dynamic and knowledgeable by choice and ability!


    It worked for me... I am a top notch, skilled software engineer, thanks for the data.

    I see those kids getting the wrong types of computers... through some lobbyist and some civil engineer's marrage of marketing concepts some guy from HP or Dell or MS is going to make a support contract out of this....
    that would spell out certain doom for this as the student need not have all those costs/benefits/extras.

    the point here is to make it cheap, reliable document, webrowser......... yeah.

    Perhaps putting cheaper obsolete machines to open documents and a UI with networking is far too pragmatic,,,,... you tell me.

    Perhaps the high school computer lab is the 90s standard and it is too static to be more than a novelty to students who dont care for being computer engineers or hackers.

    A high school computer lab is far from the utopian free access during school hours library with more than enough screens that i see as the next level in education.

    I thank Star Trek's fictional but ready to be implemented "database of everything" resource model for my high standards on the availability for people to know on demand...

    Dang, they are going to need more nuclear physicists and engineers to keep these kids up to date. And to keep the screens on.. and drives hot. or did we want to continue to run coal burning based computers?

    I hope state histroy and english for english speaking students and math for the truly OCD people who want that bizarre and often trivial sense of numbers creating patterns to be on tap for the next time they need to create an algorithm to determine how many dumb papers they have to fill out.... they would be trying to make simple instructions on how to schedule the whole world into menial
    institutionalized and far from practical mess of people playing with each other's heads for money!

    Then what will college be for? Oh shit it looks like the whole system is on Byzantine monk mode and the traditional method may be a waste of peoples short lives!

    Oh well, without all of the administrative costs of traditional school day care, game show level quiz training, oppressive education benchmarks, states wont have to make predictable idiots out of the smart and excited and usable clones of the plain and obedient then we would have total natural selection of knowledge. you can be dumb if you want with your new utopian book pc.

    If you dont like having such a dynamic and fair to all solution to keeping all knowledge of all subjects at the student's "personal .edu cubicle" then keep schools the same, more paper, less trees, slower progress due to lack of creative and intelligent students. Just make em all the same with the few weridos there trying to stay interested but bored because every task is tedious paperwork and that makes them stand out.... to pick on or shame, so they can smoke cigarettes.... and die.


    If you like our current education method and would like it to take you to a creer where you dont make difference, you obey your superiors and you get paid enough to rent...just make sure you choose physical education, and english, and um.... American and State history or art .... then move into a military career. Or become a civil servant. or an educator , you will fit in.


    In short (haha) infrastructure is good for cogs and gears but kids are kids, with brains, not paper in their skulls --- and they want to learn what they want to... otherwise they fake it to pass silly tests and eventually pass D grade or A grade depending on the POV of the day care center.

    If kids are obedient and disciplined copy machines - they can "appear" to benefit from their public education.... but it all boils down to that public record!! once you've been marked as a cog you can be sure the factories will need you. perhaps if your a brown-noser and like to have an advantage you can be management.
    You've earned it taking those tests, doing homework to make your pattern buffer replicate the behavior of a student can bring you a lack of disciplinary reconfiguration -- er I mean correction in your behavior!

    We currently just make drones that can impress friends with material wealth, (math) a updated car from the 1800s (science) with custom rims (art and humanities) while waiting for those funky hackers to find education elsewhere and create free energy for them to breed more paper lovers.


    Honor students who can copy information from one piece of paper pre-filled out for them to another piece of paper with a 1-5 day latency successfully 90% of them time AT LEAST in an effort to poorly mimic a computer with memory leaks - without the aid of examples or imagination - to get the official bumper sticker so their lives are acceptable and without question perfectly suited to be a human copy machine.

    Good honor students best wait for administrative and business leaders to show them the way to their next meal, otherwise they must participate in activities like creative thinking as punishment. Or lose their ability to make profits by tricking the consumer into buying temporary goods.


    After all they didnt need all of those scientists and engineers in America anyway.


    Its the engineer's fault for not playing basketball.

    Teacher of the future:
    Its that damn computer at every desk, its got unfiltered methods of use..... I cant keep the students in formation!
    All they have to do is prove they are learning by presenting their new informaton to their study group! I cant even get them to use paper so I can grade they copy skills! they just interact via the ubiquitous 8x11 inch tablet pc.
    Its a book/screen which makes it hard to teach "health" class to... some students are not concerned by health - they more or less like journalism, or world histories, or exobiology or programming, space flight, and other professional subjects...
    - so I wasnt trained for this!
    We may have to employ some of the new students to help teach the other students who are interested in learning the same skills.. and distribute my pay accordingly. I am going to complain about this to the Klingon High Council.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2007 @ 6:29am

    Re:

    They've already tried that. Back in college, there were certain classes where instead of buying a text book, we had to pay an access fee for a curriculum server on campus that housed digital copies of the textbooks. The problem with that is that after it's all said and done, you do not have a textbook you can hang onto after the class is over, and if you don't have access to a computer or the school network, or the server goes down, you're up a crick without a paddle.

    Digital media is NOT always the answer, and I don't think our kids are being hurt one little bit by having to lug a backpack of textbooks around. With all the junk food these days, the exercise will do them good anyway. And if you insist on being lazy, they make little backpacks with wheels and handles now, so you can just roll down the hall with it like it's a suitcase.

     

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    Colleen Dick, May 7th, 2007 @ 6:34am

    Laptops Failing

    Oh Gee! As if "computers in the schools" hadn't failed badly enough! First it was the one crusty old Mac at the back of each classroom. Then it was "Computer Labs" very expensive setups for the kids to be herded into for 45 minutes where a clueless teacher told them to run some expensive networked software and nobody could make it work so they sat around playing solitaire or minesweeper. Now they all have wireless laptops so they can update their myspace while the teachers scratch their heads. And correct me if I'm wrong, but even the lightest laptop is heavier to carry than the little picture books I occasionally took home with me from first grade. Kids need to learn to be productive first, then they can be given productivity tools.... possibly in high school. Learn to ride a trike first, then a bike, then learn to drive a car. Give 'em something to look forward to for Gods sakes! Giving them laptops in first grade short circuits the learning process and is totally not cost effective. In these days of budget cuts the first thing to go should be the computers, not the music programs! Laptops *COULD* be an effective instructional aid for the little 'uns, but the infrastructure is not there, and won't be for another 10-15 years. Giving them all hardware now is putting the cart way way ahead of the horse.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2007 @ 7:19am

    Re: Re:

    Other than the profits of the sellers of these things, what would be those measurements you speak of?

    For starters we could look at the number of students leaving school with experience using computer systems. People over value tests. I would be far more interested in getting kids using computers then getting test scores up. Even those kids who are just screwing around with the laptops are learning more then most teachers are providing with an hour and a half a day of mindless lecture.

    In school I was one of the kids that always screwed with the test curves. If I felt like getting an A I got an A, if I felt like skipping the test, I would just not show up. I knew I was not learning anything that mattered in todays world. In an attempt to learn something I enrolled in college classes early; however, all I learned was that professors in college were just as inept as the educators in high school in most instances. In fact, my sophomore year they pulled me from a few of my classes and started having me work for the school district doing technical support.

    When I graduated high school, the sole benefit I had received was my experience with computers. The summer after I graduated I took my first job as coding and worked my way up as a database/software developer and eventually was bought out by another company.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2007 @ 7:31am

    Re: Re:

    Digital media is NOT always the answer, and I don't think our kids are being hurt one little bit by having to lug a backpack of textbooks around. With all the junk food these days, the exercise will do them good anyway. And if you insist on being lazy, they make little backpacks with wheels and handles now, so you can just roll down the hall with it like it's a suitcase.

    Ever wonder if it wasn't a failure on the students part rather then the digital system? Seriously, lacking access to a computer is not an excuse anymore. You can buy a perfectly functional, brand new, laptop for less then $500 and there are an abundance of sources of funds if you can't afford it. Not to mention the computer labs that are spread across the campuses.

    You turn around and say that not wanting to haul books around is a matter of being lazy, yet you don't consider the people without computer access lazy? How about looking at the HUGE waist of money text books are. Every year they release a new or revised version or the curriculum changes and your out $150 (assuming you get more then $50 back from the book store)... and more often then not the new "version" is the same information with a different layout and cover art. How about looking into the vast waist of time it is to have 3 books for one subject and the time it takes to read through and index the pages that you need as apposed to being able to search through a digital copy.

    Face it, the biggest reason publishers don't want schools to move away from print copies is that they will no longer be able to charge inflated prices. Instead of charging every student $350 for a book that only really is worth about $20, they will have to provide it in a digital format where the students will be far less likely to pay for it every term. It will be the music industry all over again. Their bubble market will collapse, they will blame the students, and a new fight will be under way.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2007 @ 7:38am

    Re: Laptops Failing

    Oh Gee! As if "computers in the schools" hadn't failed badly enough! First it was the one crusty old Mac at the back of each classroom. Then it was "Computer Labs" very expensive setups for the kids to be herded into for 45 minutes where a clueless teacher told them to run some expensive networked software and nobody could make it work so they sat around playing solitaire or minesweeper. Now they all have wireless laptops so they can update their myspace while the teachers scratch their heads. And correct me if I'm wrong, but even the lightest laptop is heavier to carry than the little picture books I occasionally took home with me from first grade. Kids need to learn to be productive first, then they can be given productivity tools.... possibly in high school. Learn to ride a trike first, then a bike, then learn to drive a car. Give 'em something to look forward to for Gods sakes! Giving them laptops in first grade short circuits the learning process and is totally not cost effective. In these days of budget cuts the first thing to go should be the computers, not the music programs! Laptops *COULD* be an effective instructional aid for the little 'uns, but the infrastructure is not there, and won't be for another 10-15 years. Giving them all hardware now is putting the cart way way ahead of the horse.

    That's interesting, but the problem with your argument is that it is based around inept teachers rather then failures of students. A first grader has all the same ability to use a computer for their tasks as a high schooler, if the technology is implemented right. All you do throughout school is fill out predefined information in the form of assignments and the teacher corrects it. There is no reason those same assignments can't be completed on a computer. Hell, the students don't need to take them home, just bolt them to their desks.

    The only infrastructure that is inadequate when it comes to introducing computers effectivly into todays education systems, are the people. If we give a computer to a first grade teacher, she will not know any more about how to use it then her students. It is a matter of re-educating our aging teaching staff members and thoughtfully implementing the new systems in ways that maximize their benefits.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2007 @ 7:39am

    Re: Well not exactly

    3x as much material--sorry, I've been through school recently and I don't believe it.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2007 @ 8:17am

    Re: Digital media is NOT always the answer

    And who said it was ALWAYS the answer? Pardon me, miss, your ignorance is showing...

     

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  21.  
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    Bill M., May 7th, 2007 @ 8:37am

    The truth is that yes, if you threw bags of money at students, they would indeed become better managers of money. Not as efficiently as if you had structured home economics classes, but they would learn. If you don't have money, you don't learn how to manage it well.

    As for technology, the only reason we are able to read forums like this are because computers, and the web, are ubiquitous. Nobody makes you take a course to learn how to use one. (Probably why we have spam and viruses.) But because most everyone has one, or access to one, we have amazing capabilites compared to even just 10 years ago.

    On the topic of test scores... this is killing education. Kids are cramming for exams and it's not sticking after they get their scores. Your argument that computers don't improve test scores may be proof they are a good thing.

     

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  22.  
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    http://os4ed.com, May 7th, 2007 @ 8:53am

    OLPC Benefits Open Source

    Mass adoption of OLPC could drive further adoption of open technologies in education. Education, due in large to its inability to attract highly skilled tech resources, are getting locked into to vicious recurring cycles of SW upgrades based on M$FT based products. Any adoption of open source that results in lower TCO, flexibility and control is good for education. And OLPC fundamentally rethinks the user interface better engaging the students in developing countries.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2007 @ 9:20am

    Re: Well not exactly

    The laptop program at my school was extremely effective.
    Where's your evidence?

     

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  24.  
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    Jim, May 7th, 2007 @ 9:31am

    Re:

    "since our current president launched his "no child left unscathed" educational policy"

    That would be the policy that Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton co-authored? If you don't like it and want to blame people make sure you blame everyone involved. Anything less is disingenuous.

     

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  25.  
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    JustMatt, May 7th, 2007 @ 9:35am

    3 hr. battery life

    I believe the point the OP was making that in school you are in class for 7 - 9 hours a day. Meaning that you could use the laptop for about 20 mins / class period.

    Most classrooms, IIRC, had a couple of outlets for projectors and whatnot along the edges, but certainly not enough to plug in a dozen laptops and not in the center of the room. Power strips aren't a good solution as you will cords everywhere, possibly in violation of fire codes.

    One solution would be to run 12v under the floors and install an outlet at each desk, but I suspect the cost of that project would exceed the cost of the laptops. Plus, you can't easily rejigger the desks.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2007 @ 9:38am

    Re: At a huge disadvantage

    In this century, if you don't have a computer and online access you are at a huge disadvantage...
    You are also at a huge disadvantage if you don't have health care but should it be the job of public schools to provide health care to every student? No. It is the job of the schools to provide education, not welfare, and these laptops have been shown to not improve education.

    Just by handing someone a computer doesn't give anyone the incentive to use it (or to further there education with it) but it does give the people who are inclined to use it the opportunity.
    Then shouldn't the schools also purchase a set of hand tools for each student just in case some of them might want to be mechanics someday?

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2007 @ 9:42am

    Re: Re: Laptops Failing

    There is no reason those same assignments can't be completed on a computer.
    Nor is there any reason they should be.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2007 @ 9:52am

    Re:

    The truth is that yes, if you threw bags of money at students, they would indeed become better managers of money.
    And here you have it folks. This is the mindset behind the laptops in schools programs.

    As for technology, the only reason we are able to read forums like this are because computers, and the web, are ubiquitous. Nobody makes you take a course to learn how to use one. (Probably why we have spam and viruses.) But because most everyone has one, or access to one, we have amazing capabilites compared to even just 10 years ago.
    Well, duh! And you also just explained why schools don't need to buy laptops for students.

    On the topic of test scores... this is killing education. Kids are cramming for exams and it's not sticking after they get their scores. Your argument that computers don't improve test scores may be proof they are a good thing.
    If I'm about to have major surgery, I'd rather have a surgeon who graduated at the top of his class rather than the bottom, thank you.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2007 @ 10:00am

    Re: Re: Re:

    For starters we could look at the number of students leaving school with experience using computer systems.

    You don't need to buy them individual laptops for that.

     

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  30.  
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    seaowl, May 7th, 2007 @ 10:21am

    You can buy them all top of the line computers, but if they don't have a high speed connection they are useless.

     

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  31.  
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    TravisO, May 7th, 2007 @ 10:38am

    Re: At a huge disadvantage

    It seems we were cut from the same cloth, my grandfather bought me a used Vic20 in 1986 and it was my first exposure to computers and all I would do all day is code games in BASIC. I've now been in IT doing various jobs (currently a fulltime programmer) for 10yrs now.

     

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  32.  
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    Charles Griswold, May 7th, 2007 @ 11:41am

    Laptop Vs. Books

    One advantage to the laptop is that it potentially weighs much less than the books that some students carry. It's not a matter of people being lazy; some studies have shown that carrying a heavy backpack all day can lead to back pain, and that kids who carry heavy backpacks can continue to have back pain as adults. Heavy backpacks can permanently injure a kid's back. Even if drastically lightening a kid's backpack load is the only benefit to issuing laptops, then I'm for it. It doesn't even have to be very expensive if we issue OLPCs.

     

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  33.  
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    Celes, May 7th, 2007 @ 11:51am

    Re:

    "The truth is that yes, if you threw bags of money at students, they would indeed become better managers of money. Not as efficiently as if you had structured home economics classes, but they would learn."

    So, to apply your statement to computers: The truth is that yes, if you threw laptops at students, they would indeed become better computer users. Not as efficiently as if you had structured computer courses, but they would learn.

    So then the answer, it seems, is to expose children to computers by way of computers and classes that use them (with competent teachers, of course), *not* by just giving them computers. Yes? No?

     

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  34.  
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    Jamaal Johnson, May 7th, 2007 @ 12:02pm

    The truth is

    Laptops can help but are not necessary... I would think that laptops could be more of a distraction.

    -What is necessary is creating managable classrooms. School has become a political force rather than an educational force. Schools do not know how to manage their money properly. Schools are afriad to dicipline children.
    -Hold parents accountable for their children's actions.

    We didnt need any of these high tech tools when we were kids, and we turned out better than today's students.

     

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  35.  
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    James, May 7th, 2007 @ 12:13pm

    Train teachers on computers first

    Agreed. Just giving students computers is not an effective way to improve scores. But most importantly, training teachers is the logical first step.

    I just read a post by a teacher on EduStat (www.edustatblog.com) who cited an education professor at the University of California who authored --Laptops and Literacy: Learning in the Wireless Classroom. This guy supports laptop programs and said schools like Liverpool might be giving up too soon because it takes time to train teachers to use the new technology and integrate it into their classes.

     

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  36.  
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    Wigga what?, May 7th, 2007 @ 1:00pm

    Re: #28

    So you'd rather have a surgeon with a great GPA than a surgeon with an outstanding track record and lots of top-of-the-line equipment and on the job experience?

    Go in for a brain surgery with your guy, that way we don't have to listen to your drivel.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2007 @ 2:11pm

    Re: Re: #28

    So you'd rather have a surgeon with a great GPA than a surgeon with an outstanding track record and lots of top-of-the-line equipment and on the job experience?
    No, I'd rather have all of the above. What makes you think that they are mutually exclusive? And speaking of GPA's, your's must have been rather low considering the sensitivity you seem to have developed on the subject.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Wigga what?, May 7th, 2007 @ 4:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: #28

    I see, the way your first post made it sound you couldn't possibly be good at something unless you had a good GPA which, from personal experince is NOT true. I graduated from high school as validictorian of my class. I flunked out my first semester of college because I hadn't learned any thing. All I did was cram the night before the and forget it the next day, which I found to my dismay, doesn't work for a college course. So no my GPA was not low, my knowlage retention was.

    And just as a BTW to any HS students out there, screw the classes, do something extracirricular with your life especially if it involves memorization, a skill that is about 500% more valueable in the real world than a 4.0.

     

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  39.  
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    chellee, Jun 19th, 2008 @ 6:31pm

    hate em

    dude im 12 and these laptops aren't good at all. They make it sound so great but when you get them they're heavy and
    they give you backpacks (nobody knew that) so we bought ourselves nice backpacks and we just throw them away and the laptops break easily and if we break it then we have all our stuff on them and we just sit in class and the battery lasts for like 2 hours and like i said they are sooo heavvyyy. yea :[ HATE THEM so does every other person at my school in grade 7.

     

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


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