Flutterby™! : no laptops per pupil

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no laptops per pupil

2007-05-05 18:21:11.312883+00 by Dan Lyke 4 comments

"A laptop in every school!" "One laptop per child!": Total hoohey. The New York Times on the laptops in schools boondoggle:

“After seven years, there was literally no evidence it had any impact on student achievement — none,” said Mark Lawson, the school board president here in Liverpool, one of the first districts in New York State to experiment with putting technology directly into students’ hands. “The teachers were telling us when there’s a one-to-one relationship between the student and the laptop, the box gets in the way. It’s a distraction to the educational process.”

[ related topics: Children and growing up Education New York ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-05 19:02:53.395696+00 by: mvandewettering [edit history]

It's hardly a surprise to me. I spend a great deal of time thinking about programming, a task that you would think would be better served by sitting in front of a computer. I find that I often do my best thinking away from computer: thinking about my task, researching approaches, and contemplating the evidence that I've gathered from debugging session. It's during these sessions that I often have the "aha" moments that advances programming.

For the most part, kids aren't actually being asked to do things which are not nearly as directly related to computers as I, so I suspect their need for a computer is even less. Yes, they can benefit from online research, but the computer does make them read or understand. Yes, they can use a computer to help them write neater reports, and better edited reports, but they don't give them any valuable insights into literature.

I'm as alpha-geek computer-nerd as they come, but I suspect that the way computers are used in schools is largely a distraction to the more basic task of becoming a more well-informed and educated individual. Instead, they are merely the 21st century combination of television/telephone: a medium for consumption, distraction and gossip. You can argue about whether that is an entirely bad thing, but it is certainly not consistent with the basic job of education.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-06 03:58:38.046998+00 by: ebradway

The disconnect is in the teaching model. It's really easy to see among faculty at universities where laptops are common. Some faculty get irate over students who check email, IM, browse the web, etc. during class. They see it as a problem of the laptops and not a problem of their relevancy or poor teaching style.

The real problem is that teachers don't know HOW to teach to a room full of connected students. Sometimes the simple answer is to ditch the room! I did my entire MS degree online. We had a 1-1 ratio of students and computers during class. There's no other way it could have been done.

But there are some subjects where direct interaction with a warm body in the class helps. Math is one of them. Some students can learn math by looking at a well laid-out problem. For many others, you have to reveal the steps one at a time and possible break down intermediate steps based on the expressions on their faces or questions asked.

And the OLPC isn't about getting technology just to kids - it's about breaking down the digital divide. But I guess in San Francisco the digital divide refers to collapsed sections of The Maze - and not an increasing separation between haves and have-nots in terms of access to technology.

Why One-Laptop-Per-CHILD instead of including adults? You mentioned the reason earlier this week: kids pick up on technology faster. They also are already in a structured environment (school) where they can be introduced to the technology.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-06 04:01:12.113714+00 by: ebradway

Oh yeah - one great impact on education that I've seen is the ability to require an electronic submission of papers that can be plugged into turnitin.com and quickly scanned for plagarism. And it's not a tool to assign grades - but rather a tool to separate out the really bad stuff when you have a class of 500 students.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-06 12:55:51.526328+00 by: meuon [edit history]

"teachers don't know HOW to teach..." - I've learned a lot about learning while working with NextKnowledge, with SME's (Subject Matter Experts) and a handful of training professionals. There are several ways a person learns, and many ways to re-enforce the information retention and how to process/use it. But many "teachers" are stuck in "babysitter" mode. Having "wired" students is a tool that we don't know how to use, don't have proper content and good methods to utilize it, and don't have much real experience with.

I think the goal of OLPC is admirable, and if good content is developed (takes time) it will have two real effects:

The problem with both scenerios: The teacher and normal classroom paradigm is in the way. We'll need a world where 'grade level' has less to do with hours of classroom time and more with actual education levels.

The issue is the whole "educational process" that they said it got in the way of. I saw a lot of non-traditional high-school students graduating from Chattanooga State on Saturday, including a 14 year old that was getting his high school diploma AND an Associate degree at the same time. There IS hope in the world. CSTCC's model is not the answer, but at least it's a step in the right direction.