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    Thread: Classroom Technology

    1. Member
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      02-08-2012 10:31 AM #1
      Thought this was an interesting editorial piece on classroom technology. The author agrees with my basic thought that it is a waste of money.

      http://www.latimes.com/business/la-f...olumn?track=ud
      latimes.com
      Who really benefits from putting high-tech gadgets in classrooms?
      How much genuine value is there in fancy educational electronics? Don't let companies or politicians fool you.
      Michael Hiltzik

      February 4, 2012

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      Something sounded familiar last week when I heard U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski make a huge pitch for infusing digital technology into America's classrooms.

      Every schoolchild should have a laptop, they said. Because in the near future, textbooks will be a thing of the past.

      Where had I heard that before? So I did a bit of research, and found it. The quote I recalled was, "Books will soon be obsolete in the schools.... Our school system will be completely changed in 10 years."

      The revolutionary technology being heralded in that statement wasn't the Internet or the laptop, but the motion picture. The year was 1913, and the speaker, Thomas Edison, was referring to the prospect of replacing book learning with instruction via the moving image.

      He was talking through his hat then, every bit as much as Duncan and Genachowski are talking through theirs now.

      Here's another similarity: The push for advanced technology in the schoolroom then and now was driven by commercial, not pedagogical, considerations. As an inventor of motion picture technology, Edison stood to profit from its widespread application. And the leading promoter of the replacement of paper textbooks by e-books and electronic devices today is Apple, which announced at a media event last month that it dreams of a world in which every pupil reads textbooks on an iPad or a Mac.

      That should tell you that the nirvana sketched out by Duncan and Genachowski at last week's Digital Learning Day town hall was erected upon a sizable foundation of commercially processed claptrap. Not only did Genachowski in his prepared remarks give a special shout out to Apple and the iPad, but the event's roster of co-sponsors included Google, Comcast, AT&T, Intel and other companies hoping to see their investments in Internet or educational technologies pay off.

      How much genuine value is there in fancy educational electronics? Listen to what the experts say.

      "The media you use make no difference at all to learning," says Richard E. Clark, director of the Center for Cognitive Technology at USC. "Not one dang bit. And the evidence has been around for more than 50 years."

      Almost every generation has been subjected in its formative years to some "groundbreaking" pedagogical technology. In the '60s and '70s, "instructional TV was going to revolutionize everything," recalls Thomas C. Reeves, an instructional technology expert at the University of Georgia. "But the notion that a good teacher would be just as effective on videotape is not the case."

      Many would-be educational innovators treat technology as an end-all and be-all, making no effort to figure out how to integrate it into the classroom. "Computers, in and of themselves, do very little to aid learning," Gavriel Salomon of the University of Haifa and David Perkins of Harvard observed in 1996. Placing them in the classroom "does not automatically inspire teachers to rethink their teaching or students to adopt new modes of learning."

      At last week's dog-and-pony show, Duncan bemoaned how the U.S. is being outpaced in educational technology by countries such as South Korea and even Uruguay. ("We have to move from being a laggard to a leader" was his sound bite.)

      Does Duncan ever read his own agency's material? In 2009, the Education Department released a study of whether math and reading software helped student achievement in first, fourth, and sixth grades, based on testing in hundreds of classrooms. The study found that the difference in test scores between the software-using classes and the control group was "not statistically different from zero." In sixth-grade math, students who used software got lower test scores — and the effect got significantly worse in the second year of use.

      The aspect of all this innovative change that got the least attention from Duncan and Genachowski was how school districts are supposed to pay for it.

      It's great to suggest that every student should be equipped with a laptop or given 24/7 access to Wi-Fi, but shouldn't our federal bureaucrats figure out how to stem the tidal wave of layoffs in the teaching ranks and unrelenting cutbacks in school programs and maintenance budgets first? School districts can't afford to buy enough textbooks for their pupils, but they're supposed to equip every one of them with a $500 iPad?

      "There are two big lies the educational technology industry tells," says Reeves. "One, you can replace the teacher. Two, you'll save money in the process. Neither is borne out."

      Apple has become a major purveyor of the mythology of the high-tech classroom. "Education is deep in our DNA," declared Phil Schiller, Apple's marketing chief, at its Jan. 19 education event. "We're finding that as students are starting to be introduced to iPad and learning, some really remarkable things are happening."

      If you say so, Phil. But it's proper to point out the downside to one great innovation Schiller touted, a desktop publishing app called iBooks Author. The app is free, and plainly can help users create visually striking textbooks. But buried in the user license is a rule that if you sell a product created with iBooks Author, you can sell it only through Apple's iBookstore, and Apple will keep 30% of the purchase price. (Also, your full-featured iBook will be readable only on an Apple device such as an iPad.)

      Among tech pundits, the reaction to this unusual restriction has ranged from citing its "unprecedented audacity" to calling it "mind-bogglingly greedy and evil." Apple won't comment for the record on the uproar. Whatever you think of it, the rule makes clear that Apple's interest in educational innovation is distinctly mercantile. But that didn't keep Genachowski from praising Apple's education initiative as an "important step." (Perhaps he meant a step toward enhanced profitability.)

      Of course Apple draped its new business initiative in all sorts of Steve Jobsian pixie dust, as if it's all about revolutionizing education. The company's most amusing claim is that iPads are somehow more "durable" than textbooks and therefore more affordable, over time. Its website weeps copious crocodile tears over the sad fate of textbooks — "as books are passed along from one student to the next, they get more highlighted, dog-eared, tattered and worn." Yet as James Kendrick of ZDNet reports, school administrators who have handed laptops out to students to take home say the devices get beaten nearly to death in no time. The reality is obvious: Drop a biology textbook on a floor, you pick it up. Drop an iPad, you'll be sweeping it up.

      Some digital textbooks may have advantages over their paper cousins. Well-produced multimedia features can improve students' understanding of difficult or recondite concepts. But there's a fine line between an enhancement and a distraction, and if textbook producers are using movies and 3-D animations to paper over the absence of serious research in their work, that's not progress.

      Nor is it a given that e-books will be cheaper than bound books, especially when the cost of the reading devices is factored in. Apple tries to entice schools to buy iPads in blocks of 10 by offering a lavish discount of, well, $20 per unit. They still cost $479 each. The company also provides a bulk discount on extended warranties for the device, but — surprise! — it doesn't cover accidental damage from drops or spills.

      Apple and its government mouthpieces speak highly of the ability to feed constant updates to digital textbooks so they never go out of date. But that's relevant to a rather small subset of schoolbooks such as those dealing with the leading edge of certain sciences — though I'm not sure how many K-12 pupils are immersed in advanced subjects such as quantum mechanics or string theory. The standard text of "Romeo and Juliet," on the other hand, has been pretty well locked down since 1599.

      There's certainly an important role for technology in the classroom. And the U.S. won't benefit if students in poor neighborhoods fall further behind their middle-class or affluent peers in access to broadband Internet connectivity or computers. But mindless servility to technology for its own sake, which is what Duncan and Genachowski are promoting on behalf of self-interested companies like Apple, will make things worse, not better.

      That's because it distracts from and sucks money away from the most important goal, which is maintaining good teaching practices and employing good teachers in the classroom. What's scary about the recent presentation by Duncan and Genachowski is that it shows that for all their supposed experience and expertise, they've bought snake oil. They're simply trying to rebottle it for us as the elixir of the gods.

      Michael Hiltzik's column appears Sundays and Wednesdays. Reach him at mhiltzik@latimes.com, read past columns at latimes.com/hiltzik, check out facebook.com/hiltzik and follow @latimeshiltzik on Twitter.

    2. Member Tornado2dr's Avatar
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      02-08-2012 12:07 PM #2
      I tend to think that there is a good reason why one of the biggest advances in classroom tech over the last 20 years has been the dry-erase marker....and not whiz-bang computers and displays.

      My wife has beaten it into me enough that I just agree with whatever she says about k-12 education. She teaches 5th grade - and has done 3rd and 4th. She can't stand some of the new tech that school systems attempt to force on teachers and students. Smart boards? Great ---a fancy power-point with the ability to sit at a station and write additional notes...while not being able to walk about your class to evaluate who is getting it and who isn't.

      Teaching grade-school language and math doesn't really require a lot of fancy stuff. Most of these are things students NEED to have memorized (multiplication, punctuation, sentence structure). Period.

      The only thing I do think is neat is the digital textbook idea, mainly because I am tired of seeing all of the goddamned books my wife carries to and from school. Everything fits in one tablet, and said tablet can be updated at will by school districts... seems like a good idea, but the idea of maintaining and keeping workable 25 tablets per classroom sounds a bit daunting.

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      02-08-2012 12:16 PM #3
      I see both sides. I have been in IT for the last 17 years and see the importance of knowing it and feeling comfortable with it. You won't get very far without it in this world. That being said, I don't think it is necessary, or even beneficial to learn the foundations with technology. Reading, writing, math, science, etc, do not need expensive tablets for all the students in order to learn. In fact, I would see it as distracting.

      So, I 100% believe that schools need to be strong and near cutting edge with technology, but not necessarily to learn fundamentals.

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      02-08-2012 03:54 PM #4
      Our education puts WAY too much emphasis on technology and not enough on actual education.

      I remember my first week in American school. I was amazed at the kind of things they had, entire band equipment, computers, labs with just about everything in it....then I went to Math and they were teaching me A+4=8 in 7th grade (stuff I was taught in Europe in 2-3rd grade)Not only that, they continued to teach me the same crap over and over thru High School.

      Speaking of which, my daughter and I were going over "mid term" materials (she is in 8th grade) and seems like it hasn't change ONE bit.

      Sad

    5. Member robr2's Avatar
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      02-08-2012 10:41 PM #5
      My son's high school issued iPads to all 1100 students this past fall. The idea is that students should learn to properly use the technology they will use in the real world. Through the use of twitter, teacher blogs, apps like Drop Box, et al, the students are able to learn in a new method while still using the previous tools like books and written homework.

    6. Senior Member FlashRedGLS1.8T's Avatar
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      02-09-2012 07:29 AM #6
      Quote Originally Posted by Tornado2dr View Post
      I tend to think that there is a good reason why one of the biggest advances in classroom tech over the last 20 years has been the dry-erase marker....and not whiz-bang computers and displays.
      I agree with this. Sometimes too much time is spend attempting to use the high tech teaching devices that it takes away from the actual education.

      Dry erase boards are freaking awesome.


      Quote Originally Posted by VdubChaos View Post
      ....then I went to Math and they were teaching me A+4=8 in 7th grade (stuff I was taught in Europe in 2-3rd grade)
      In my experience this is not the case; my 2nd grade daughter learned that skill last year.

      Did you go to a special school?

    7. Member Tornado2dr's Avatar
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      02-09-2012 07:43 AM #7
      Quote Originally Posted by FlashRedGLS1.8T View Post
      Did you go to a special school?


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      02-09-2012 09:10 AM #8
      Quote Originally Posted by robr2 View Post
      My son's high school issued iPads to all 1100 students this past fall. The idea is that students should learn to properly use the technology they will use in the real world. Through the use of twitter, teacher blogs, apps like Drop Box, et al, the students are able to learn in a new method while still using the previous tools like books and written homework.
      Exactly how it should be done and I think it is the intent behind the push for more technology in schools.

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      02-09-2012 12:49 PM #9
      Quote Originally Posted by Tornado2dr View Post
      Smart boards? Great ---a fancy power-point with the ability to sit at a station and write additional notes...while not being able to walk about your class to evaluate who is getting it and who isn't.
      I've seen most elementary schools in town have them now, and they are a nuisance to have. Teachers don't normally use them, so they are just there, blocking valuable white board space. Teachers don't particularly like them because they take time to warm up and most subjects or points just need a a few seconds of writing or doodling on the board to get the information or idea across to the students.
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      02-10-2012 11:11 AM #10
      Quote Originally Posted by FlashRedGLS1.8T View Post




      In my experience this is not the case; my 2nd grade daughter learned that skill last year.

      Did you go to a special school?
      That's the frustrating part. My boys in 3rd and 4th grad have been learning it as well.

      Seems like they recycle same old **** over and over

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      02-25-2012 11:06 PM #11
      Quote Originally Posted by Papa Dras View Post
      I see both sides. I have been in IT for the last 17 years and see the importance of knowing it and feeling comfortable with it. You won't get very far without it in this world. That being said, I don't think it is necessary, or even beneficial to learn the foundations with technology. Reading, writing, math, science, etc, do not need expensive tablets for all the students in order to learn. In fact, I would see it as distracting.

      So, I 100% believe that schools need to be strong and near cutting edge with technology, but not necessarily to learn fundamentals.
      As an IT manager, I cringe when I go to meetings and see so many IT managers of my level and higher are techno-phobes or have basically no clue or concept with today's technology. They are more or less cave men with blackberries/iPhones that depend on their staff to do tech work. In a few years these bosses will get either fired or leave as even the higher ups now want to hire managers that are well versed with today's tech.

      The younger kids just entering IT and coming out of college are well verse with tech and they don't carry pen + paper like most managers.

      I'm afraid that in 10-15 yrs from now, there are 3 types of kids. The nerds/geeks that just aces the new digital medium that all the new technology as created. The jocks that basically don't care about academics, and then the 1/3 that are stuck in a rut because their parents didn't accept the digital world or they couldn't afford to keep up.

      Just look at my job, we use to employ about 10-15 kids just to handle the PC support duties. Then in 5 years we fired the ones that couldn't keep up with the changing tech and now we are down to 4 kids that does the heavy duty PC stuff and hired 3 to handle all of our new software automations. Basically we have 3 new folks that are engineers that use new software tools that 10-15 IT people used to perform.

      This trend is happening to other job sectors as more highly tech savvy folks replaced workers without the tech skillsets. Legal, medical, financial, and sales are investing heavily on new mobile technology and digital convergence.

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      02-26-2012 09:02 PM #12
      Quote Originally Posted by Vision33r View Post
      As an IT manager, I cringe when I go to meetings and see so many IT managers of my level and higher are techno-phobes or have basically no clue or concept with today's technology. They are more or less cave men with blackberries/iPhones that depend on their staff to do tech work. In a few years these bosses will get either fired or leave as even the higher ups now want to hire managers that are well versed with today's tech.

      The younger kids just entering IT and coming out of college are well verse with tech and they don't carry pen + paper like most managers.

      I'm afraid that in 10-15 yrs from now, there are 3 types of kids. The nerds/geeks that just aces the new digital medium that all the new technology as created. The jocks that basically don't care about academics, and then the 1/3 that are stuck in a rut because their parents didn't accept the digital world or they couldn't afford to keep up.

      Just look at my job, we use to employ about 10-15 kids just to handle the PC support duties. Then in 5 years we fired the ones that couldn't keep up with the changing tech and now we are down to 4 kids that does the heavy duty PC stuff and hired 3 to handle all of our new software automations. Basically we have 3 new folks that are engineers that use new software tools that 10-15 IT people used to perform.

      This trend is happening to other job sectors as more highly tech savvy folks replaced workers without the tech skillsets. Legal, medical, financial, and sales are investing heavily on new mobile technology and digital convergence.
      OK, so you're an IT manager ???? This about proves the initial point I think, you can't even put a coherent sentence together. Presumably you're one of the ones that will get fired because you can't keep up ??
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      02-27-2012 01:46 PM #13
      IT Manager tells me the entire story


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      02-27-2012 01:51 PM #14
      Quote Originally Posted by VdubChaos View Post
      IT Manager tells me the entire story

      You know your post is terrible when Vision33r is the second dumbest person in the thread.

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      02-29-2012 10:57 PM #15
      My son's school (private) just announced that they are starting a program and every student from 3-12 grade will receive iPads. They are 1 of 5 schools in the country to start this program. LOL I'm sure tuition costs will definitely rise next year.

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      03-01-2012 08:50 AM #16
      Quote Originally Posted by K3V11N View Post
      My son's school (private) just announced that they are starting a program and every student from 3-12 grade will receive iPads. They are 1 of 5 schools in the country to start this program. LOL I'm sure tuition costs will definitely rise next year.
      You do realize that by paying tuition YOU are actually paying for this right?

      let me guess, he is staying at the school?


    17. 03-01-2012 09:04 AM #17
      Quote Originally Posted by VdubChaos View Post
      That's the frustrating part. My boys in 3rd and 4th grad have been learning it as well.

      Seems like they recycle same old **** over and over
      I don't think they are making big leaps in the field of mathematics that a 3rd grader can grasp.

      And if the American school system is so bad, and American corporations are so evil, why not go back to Poland?

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      03-01-2012 10:30 AM #18
      Quote Originally Posted by PolskiHetzen View Post
      And if the American school system is so bad, and American corporations are so evil, why not go back to Poland?
      What the hell are you talking about?


    19. Member titleist1976's Avatar
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      03-01-2012 01:59 PM #19
      Quote Originally Posted by VdubChaos View Post
      You do realize that by paying tuition YOU are actually paying for this right?
      I'm pretty sure he implicitly realizes he's paying for it. How wouldn't he? It doesn't seem like he's the dense one.

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      03-01-2012 03:20 PM #20
      chaos does all these smug after his posts to seem brilliant

    21. Member titleist1976's Avatar
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      03-01-2012 04:19 PM #21
      I never did do the math on that one.

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      03-02-2012 09:41 AM #22
      Quote Originally Posted by Papa Dras View Post
      chaos does all these smug after his posts to seem brilliant
      Absolutely, he doesn't need to be college educated to have rich friends and know more than you!


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      03-15-2012 11:57 AM #23
      Quote Originally Posted by K3V11N View Post
      My son's school (private) just announced that they are starting a program and every student from 3-12 grade will receive iPads. They are 1 of 5 schools in the country to start this program. LOL I'm sure tuition costs will definitely rise next year.
      Cost of ipads a lot less than cost of running teacher pension funds or any govt worker pensions in your state.

    24. Member titleist1976's Avatar
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      03-15-2012 12:01 PM #24
      Quote Originally Posted by Vision33r View Post
      Cost of ipads a lot less than cost of running teacher pension funds or any govt worker pensions in your state.
      I'm not sure that you're aware, or care, but private school teachers don't typically draw from state pension systems (STRS). Or medical. Or a decent salary for that matter.
      Last edited by titleist1976; 03-15-2012 at 12:03 PM.

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