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Is Early Childhood Education Technology Moving Backwards?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the but-moore-didn't-say-anything-about-this dept.

Education 290

theodp writes "Four decades ago, the NSF-sponsored PLATO Elementary Reading Curriculum Project (pdf) provided Illinois schoolchildren with reading lessons and e-versions of beloved children's books that exploited networked, touch-sensitive 8.5"x8.5" bit-mapped plasma screens, color images, and audio. Last week, the Today Show promoted the TeacherMate — a $100 gadget that's teaching Illinois schoolchildren to read and do math using its 2.5" screen and old-school U-D-L-R cursor keys — as a revolution in education. Has early childhood education managed to defy Moore's Law?"

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290 comments

This is a joke, right? (-1, Troll)

mosel-saar-ruwer (732341) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634484)


You have heard of this thing called the NEA, right?

And you are familiar with our looming demographic catastrophe [mcclatchydc.com] , right?

I mean, come on, be serious.

.

Re:This is a joke, right? (0, Offtopic)

taniwha (70410) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634580)

I think that claiming that if most people wont be white then it will be a catastrophe, is simply racism

Re:This is a joke, right? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30634712)

All other races look out for themselves, and yet Whites are supposed to accept their demographic decline with cheers and exuberance. The day will come when Whites stop caring what's "racist" or not - and people like you will be up against a wall.

Re:This is a joke, right? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30634716)

These days, the vast, vast majority of white people see past skin color. That is why even the extremely right-wing Bush government included a number of blacks, Hispanics and Asians among its prominent leadership positions.

Oddly enough, the people who put the most emphasis on race today are blacks and Hispanics. They're the ones who we often see pointing out the irrelevant difference in skin color, often trying to use it as an excuse why they haven't "succeeded" in life.

Of course, they totally ignore how they've systematically rejected the public education that has been generously offered to them, in favor of worshipping a "thug" culture that promotes ignorance, violence, drug abuse, prostitution and vandalism.

We hear time and time again of young black students who reject the "white education" in favor of joining gangs. Or we hear of Latinos who care only about selling and abusing drugs. Of course, there are a small number of white and Asian youth who also try to emulate this pathetic way of life.

The main fear isn't that whites will be in the minority. The problem is actually that the soon-to-be small minority of whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asians who have managed to become the most civilized will be vastly outnumbered by the scum that have rejected the values of our society.

That will be the downfall of America, and no amount or type of technology will prevent that. It's a sociological problem, not a technical problem.

Re:This is a joke, right? (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634602)

Ok, what in the world does the NEA (either National Endowment of the Arts or National Educators Association) have to do with this story, or the thing you just posted?

Re:This is a joke, right? (1)

wronskyMan (676763) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634724)

National Education Association (teachers unions)

Re:This is a joke, right? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30634606)

Well, at least blacks will only increase by 1%. I guess the Jews are pretty well on-track in their pursuit of the Eternal Revenge against Whites.

Re:This is a joke, right? (0)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634850)

I looked at that article, about how we need to start focusing on blacks and latinos before it's too late.

What bullshit.

How about we drop the race nonsense and start focusing on educating kids, hmm? Kinda solves the problem right there, doesn't it? Man I'm a genius, I should be running the NEA!

Re:This is a joke, right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30635066)

Wait, but if we ignore race, then what will lazy blacks and Latinos use to justify their failures as individuals?

Surely they can't take responsibility for their own lack of initiative. It just has to be the "White Man" keeping them down, yet again.

Oh, and totally ignore all those blacks and Latinos who chose to work hard, got an education, and became successful.

Re:This is a joke, right? (-1, Troll)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30635220)

Gotta HAVE kids, before you can educate kids. White Americans are to preoccupied with gay marriage, peter puffing, and fudge packing to have kids. But, hey, when they aren't being queer, the redneck element runs around proclaiming their superiority. Truth in advertising, right? It must be true. And, all the superior asswipes will die out soon.

No, I'm not Black, Asian, Latino - I'm a mongrel mixed breed. I can badmouth ALL the ignorant bastids, 'cause I'm related to them.

Stupid cocksuckers deserve to lose whatever strength in numbers that they've enjoyed for the last couple centuries. When the Latin Americans finally become a majority, you can bet all those queer bastards will lose whatever silly "rights" they have voted for themselves. Then, once again, life will become more normal, and a queer will be called a queer.

Of course, you see the same thing in Europe - declining fertility rates, increasing foreign populattions, etc.

The end of the "White Man's Dynasty" is approaching. And, they'll be remembered as a bunch of peter puffing assholes, much as we remember ancient Greece.

Re:This is a joke, right? (0, Offtopic)

diamondsw (685967) | more than 4 years ago | (#30635514)

[i]No, I'm not Black, Asian, Latino - I'm a mongrel mixed breed. I can badmouth ALL the ignorant bastids, 'cause I'm related to them.[/i]

No, you're just an ignorant asshole diverting a good discussion into your filth.

Re:This is a joke, right? (1)

feepness (543479) | more than 4 years ago | (#30635516)

Today I would like to be educated as to the meaning of "peter puffing".

Re:This is a joke, right? (1)

bschorr (1316501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30635550)

I have no idea how this nonsense got modded as "funny." It's nothing but flamebait at best.

It is, at least, on-topic flamebait - seeing as how it nicely demonstrates an utter failure of our education system.

Re:This is a joke, right? (4, Insightful)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 4 years ago | (#30635482)

I certainly hope this post is a joke, as there is absolutely no reason while bigger, faster, shinier more energy intensive devices are going to be necessarily better than a simpler device.

My early child hood technology consisted mainly of books, Play-doh, LEGOs, magnifying glasses, hammers, nails and scrap blocks of wood from a paint brush handle factory down the street. And I fail to see how that early education "tech" could have been improved by an e-version of anything.

Simple Rugged Durable = Better (4, Insightful)

loose electron (699583) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634486)

The latest and greatest techno-glitter is often not what's needed. The simple rugged device shown can get the interactive teaching job done, and probably endure getting dropped, kicked, and getting dumped in Cheerios.

Would you give an iPhone to a kid who is constantly throwing things around and having temper tantrums?

Often, simpler is better.

Re:Simple Rugged Durable = Better (1)

DingerX (847589) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634550)

Obviously your childhood didn't include a PLATO system. Those suckers were bulletproof.

Re:Simple Rugged Durable = Better (1)

loose electron (699583) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634622)

LMAO! I pre-date computers in the classroom. High school class of 1974

Re:Simple Rugged Durable = Better (3, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634904)

High school class of 1974

Me too. Those of us born in '56 could only read about computers in sci-fi and Popular Science, and then it was Univac. I don't think IBM built the first EDPM system until the mid-50's.

When I'm in a quiet place and think about the changes brought about by technology in my lifetime, my head spins. Shit, when I was watching Avatar last week, I briefly recalled that when I was born not all movies were even shot in color, yet.

I think I got my first "personal" computer about the same time my now-21 year-old daughter was born. I suppose it's a good thing I didn't have a personal computer before I met my wife and my daughter was born. There's a good chance that neither of those things would have happened, otherwise.

Re:Simple Rugged Durable = Better (4, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634960)

I think I got my first "personal" computer about the same time my now-21 year-old daughter was born

Upon further review, I realize that I did in fact get my first Commodore 64 some years before I was married. Apparently, those early machines were not yet powerful enough to suck the will out of me as effectively as the eight-core media powerhouse to which I am currently in thrall.

Thus, I was still able to reproduce before it was too late.

Re:Simple Rugged Durable = Better (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 4 years ago | (#30635300)

High school class of 1974

Me too.

Same here ('74 drinks more!). I got my first "PC" as a hand-me-down from my ubergeek dad (when I was 26ish)...a VIC-20 (which I still have and it still works).

My kids (and obviously grandkids) have never lived in a house without a PC/gaming thing of some sort.

Re:Simple Rugged Durable = Better (4, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634790)

The latest and greatest techno-glitter is often not what's needed

You're right of course, and although it might be a minority opinion among fans of high-tech, the best "early-childhood education technology" is still interaction with parents, in a secure environment.

But with mommy and daddy having to work thirty percent more just to provide the same standard of living and real income as a single-breadwinner family in 1962, interaction with parents is increasingly in short supply.

Gotta feed Moloch, you know.

[Note: "Standard of living does NOT mean "the number of big screen TVs you have charged to your credit cards". It means "a home, food on the table, education and health care".]

Re:Simple Rugged Durable = Better (3, Informative)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634912)

Worse than that, parents believe it is the Government's job to teach their kids, and the Government reinforces this as much as possible.

The truth is, the public school system is probably the single worst thing that ever happened to education in the US. If you want proof, look at how many home-schooled kids outperform public school kids in schoolastic competitions and the like. Often the parents teaching these kids don't have beyond a highschool education themselves, yet they consistantly do better than the public school system.

Also I imagine that 30% figure would be a bit lower if we didn't have to pay an average of $10,000 a kid per year for a sub-par education.

Re:Simple Rugged Durable = Better (1)

dosius (230542) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634982)

I'm a firm believer that a dedicated parent can do a better job of educating one's children than the public school system. If things go according to plan, if I raise children, I will put my money where my mouth is, and attempt to prove myself true.

-uso.

Re:Simple Rugged Durable = Better (2, Insightful)

Nathrael (1251426) | more than 4 years ago | (#30635224)

I'm a firm believer that a dedicated parent can do a better job of educating one's children than the public school system.

Just remember that said dedicated parent could also be crazed creationist fundamentalist wackos.

Re:Simple Rugged Durable = Better (-1, Flamebait)

dosius (230542) | more than 4 years ago | (#30635274)

As are most homeschooling parents, which causes no end of grief for those of us who would prefer to homeschool and AREN'T fundie nutjobs, or worse, dominionists or Quiverfulls...

-uso.

Re:Simple Rugged Durable = Better (3, Informative)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30635574)

No, they are not. That is a myth that the public school industry would like you to believe. As a home schooling parent, I can tell you, that the percentage of religious nutjobs outside of homeschooling is WAY higher than those inside. This ratio might be different in other parts of the country, but at least her in California, it is definitely the case. The number one reason that I have heard from other home schooling parents for their choice is that they want their kid to get the best education possible, and the public school is incapable or unwilling to provide it. The second most common reason is that the parents actually like spending time with their kids and think it is good for the kid to spend time with them.

My own reasons for home schooling started out long before my son was born with me not wanting my child raised by part time government employees with low reasoning and math skills, combined with the fact that the schools would not want me as the parent of one of their students. Very early on, it became clear that public school would be a disaster for my son.

He was proficient on the PC at 1. A week after his 2nd birthday he did his first Ubuntu install. (No, he couldn't read. Yes, it is really more an example of just how easy it is to install Linux.) He started reading just before three, and started working on electronics projects soon after. At 5, he is currently working on his multiplication, division, and improving his writing skills. He reads as well as many of the kids I went to high school with. ( Yes, that is as much a slight against the public school kids as it is bragging about my own.) When he wants to know something new, he has no problem getting on Google and finding it.

All the bragging daddy issues aside, this level of education would at worst not be tolorated in a public school, and at best he would be bored stiff, start talking to the kid next to him for some stimulation, and be considered a problem kid because he couldn't sit still and listen to the lecture on the letter 'A'.

Re:Simple Rugged Durable = Better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30635428)

I would rather that fundie wacko teach my kid then go to the Detriot School System.

Re:Simple Rugged Durable = Better (4, Interesting)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634984)

That's a great reason to support all local business as much as possible. The more local it is, the better.

Just look at all the middlemen involved when you buy from national and international sources. Most of those middlemen are people working far from their homes in order to take jobs from people who are trying to work close to home.

Re:Simple Rugged Durable = Better (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30635028)

The latest and greatest techno-glitter is often not what's needed.

You were headed in the right direction, but some how missed the destination.

What proof is there that any technological solution is productive or effective? Why bemoan a shrinking screen size when shrinking goals explains shrinking results.

Pencil and Paper generally don't distract the student from the task at hand. And the budget for those can be managed with pocket change.

Re:Simple Rugged Durable = Better (1)

dave sapien (931261) | more than 4 years ago | (#30635528)

I can only say from our experiences developing developmental/educational apps for young toddlers that they generally dont through the iphone with enough force to kill it. With that said, very young kids only see the iphone as a object, whats going on onscreen is only part of the experience. So its hardly surprising that children are oblivious to moores law.

Yes. (5, Insightful)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634490)

Now we plug them into X Interactivodular superintermodular digital box and have them staring at a generic "FUN!!1" learning program that teaches them to rotely memorize whatever miniscule number of factoids it can hold in it's tiny memory. Then we pick them up and shuttle them around all day on a million and one "Structured play-time" events before taking them home and expecting them to go to sleep on command after a hard day of sitting and doing what grownups tell them to.

We used to give them a stack of comic books, a box of legos, and enough kool-aid for them and whatever other kids in the neighborhood weren't grounded at the moment and tell them to figure it out for themselves.

Homework isn't (by default) fun, and "Structured play-time" is not good for kids. Learning is what you do so they're able to have options as an adult, and fun is anything they do voluntarily after they do the things they need to do but don't want to.

Let the little shiats skin their knees, scream their heads off, run around with their pants on their head, dig in the mud, and punch someone in their new best friend in the nose now and then. They'll thank you for it later.

Re:Yes. (2, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634634)

+5.

The summary reads:

Is Early Childhood Education Technology Moving Backwards?

when it should read:

Is Early Childhood Education Moving Backwards with Technology?

Also, in Soviet America, newfangled toys play with you.

Re:Yes. (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634918)

I have two words regarding technology in early-childhood education:

"Baby Einstein".

Re:Yes. (1)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634992)

So, um, er, that's a "yes"?

Re:Yes. (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634684)

Exactly. Things like this show exactly whats wrong with education: there is no thinking involved. If we want to use education to help people become more than just physical laborers, they need to really learn. They need to learn reading using books they -want- to read. When I was in early elementary school, my parents tell me that I wouldn't ever read any fiction books because I thought they were stupid. Looking today at most early fiction books, I can see that my younger me was exactly right. Now thats not to say I didn't read, far from it, I think I checked out every single non-fiction book that interested me at least twice in my old elementary school library, but fiction until about 5th grade simply didn't interest me. Everything worked out in the end, the plots generally sucked and there was not anything... interesting in them. Thankfully, children s literature has improved some with the success of Harry Potter, but in the days before that, nothing but happy stories, half-baked "mystery" novels and the like thrived.

I fail to see how this will motivate kids to learn more than giving them -real- things to do and having them doing it. Give them an RPG, that will teach them how to read, let them play war games, they will learn geography and history, etc.

Huge problem (3, Interesting)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634932)

You mention "help people become more than physical laborers". The problem with society today is there are easily two groups of people that can easily be recognized: those that can manipulate abstract symbols and those that cannot. This is purely a mental capability - education has no role in it. If a person doesn't have the ability, you might be able to train them sufficiently to put on a pretty good show and fake it but they aren't going to be successful or happy about it.

Today we are quickly reaching the point where working on an assembly line is no longer an option in the Western world. If someone can be a computer programmer, great - but what about all of those people that would have been happy and productive being an assembly line worker ca. 1950? There are few jobs remaining for these people. The educational system doesn't seem to understand this division either - you simply aren't going to be able to manage a classroom of 10 children that can do abstract symbol manipulation and anther 10 that cannot. The result of trying is often the Lowest Common Denominator or some kind of group effort where half the children are helping (or trying to help) the other half. End result is a lot of frustrated kids because they are either being held back or pushed to do things they can't do.

We need to recognize this and deal with it on a societal level, and pretty soon. Building the world so that only people that can do higher math, program computers and other things that involve abstract symbols will fit in is a disaster in the works.

Re:Huge problem (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#30635006)

I think what this tells us is you don't actually know what working on the line was like. I have to admit I don't either, but I'm willing to bet that it's not something people did because they liked it. Imagine spending 20 or 30 years screwing in the same fastener over and over. And I get testy after having answered the same question 50 or 60 times a day for a few months.

That's not to say that there haven't been serious consequences from phasing out those jobs and shipping them overseas, just that it's not the romantic reasons one might expect.

Re:Huge problem (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30635278)

The trouble is while rote assembly line work often did suck(not to mention the bits that were quite dangerous), there was also a time when it paid pretty decently.

The low end of the "service economy" is at least as unpleasant(though possibly a bit safer); but your chances of running a single, or even dual, income household in something less than squalor are not encouraging.

Re:Huge problem (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30635036)

The problem with society today is there are easily two groups of people that can easily be recognized: those that can manipulate abstract symbols and those that cannot. This is purely a mental capability - education has no role in it. If a person doesn't have the ability, you might be able to train them sufficiently to put on a pretty good show and fake it but they aren't going to be successful or happy about it.

While it is a mental ability, education can help bring it to the attention of the masses. Look at the abundance of writers now compared to writers in the 16th century. While there always have been writers ever since the invention of writing, in the last 200 years writing has exploded in growth, partially due to the increase of education allowing more people to read and write.

Think about it this way, if you lived on a farm in the 1600s and were very good at abstract thinking, where did that get you? Nowhere because no one appreciates your talent. Today, even if you live on a farm you still get education, if you show that you are good at abstract thinking and show excellence in a particular field, its quite easy to get scholarships then go off to university and later get a job doing something you love. In the 16th century... you were stuck as a farmer.

There are few jobs remaining for these people.

There are lots of jobs... they just don't pay much more than minimum wage because there are a lot of workers (read, Mexicans) who are willing to do the same job for less pay. There are lots of jobs out there, they just don't pay much.

We need to recognize this and deal with it on a societal level, and pretty soon. Building the world so that only people that can do higher math, program computers and other things that involve abstract symbols will fit in is a disaster in the works.

In a way we usually do, those who are struggling in school usually drop out, perhaps get a GED at a later date, and do manual labor jobs at low pay. The thing is, generally humans are worse at doing repetitive jobs than machines so their pay gets lowered because they have nothing special.

Re:Yes. (1)

omb (759389) | more than 4 years ago | (#30635108)

My kids were staunch fans of Ronald Dahl, none of it designed for children. There are very few Childrens' books, only the Hobbit comes to mind.

Money (1)

Kratisto (1080113) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634494)

The technology is moving forward if you can give (or charge) every single student a gadget like this and use it in every class.

Strange... (1)

xQuarkDS9x (646166) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634500)

I would honestly think a screen larger then 2.5" would be easier on kids learning to read and do math. And besides, from what I have read and heard about how bad funding is for a lot of schools in the USA, chances are this will likely not be seen anytime soon to replace ancient text books.

Re:Strange... (2, Interesting)

geophizz (1364935) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634822)

All the kids in my neighborhood spend hours staring at their tiny Nintendo DS and DSi screens and do some amazing things with them, so the tiny screen is going to be no impediment to them. My 10 year old daughter is creating short animations and videos using her DSi, and is learning the principles of storytelling, drawing and editing? Why shouldn't that hardware form factor be adapted to educational software? Better still, why not use the DS/DSi as the platform instead of a cheap knockoff? For the cost of 3 PCs, an entire classroom can be outfitted with these "educational DSis". That is within the reach of most school systems, even in these rough times. That is, assuming that Nintendo allows third party apps.

Re:Strange... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#30635018)

Doubtful, ideally the device would only be showing the word the kid was reading and a couple of the words on either side. Basically a sentence and very little more. Allows for more concentration without having to worry at that point about losing ones place in the page or superimposing other sentences into that one. In the long run one would have to learn to read properly, but in the short term it's a great way to figure out the basics.

Going backwards? (5, Insightful)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634506)

IAAKT (I Am A Kindergarten Teacher) and I would not say that I'm going backwards by having my students use crayons, pencils, markers instead of plasma, touch sensitive displays. Nor am I going backwards by using chalk and a blackboard instead of powerpoint and multimedia displays to teach your children how to read and write.

Sometimes I often wonder if people push technology on children for the sake of making themselves look good ("Look, I introduced a bunch of 6yr olds to powerpoint and the web!").

Btw: Chalk/pencils/paper never run out of batteries, never get badly damaged when dropped. Never need an "IT Guy" on staff to fix/train/repair/upgrade. Also, I spend quite a bit of my own money on school supplies for the students. It's much easier to go to walmart and buy a box of pencils than it is to go to the school board and ask them to appropriate more funding so we can have more ebook readers so that every child gets one.

Re:Going backwards? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30634650)

I agree. I’m a techie and my wife and I home-schooled our children (up to various grade levels depending on the child) — I didn’t consider them technologically inept until we put them in school A calculator required for 7th grade math?? The one that went into 6th grade didn’t know how to create a powerpoint oops. Way too much dependence on electronics.

Re:Going backwards? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30635008)

Good god. I hope you didn't teach them English.

Where are the Sand (or Playdough) Tables? (2, Insightful)

justsomecomputerguy (545196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634658)

I am a "computer guy" for a fairly affleunt K-12 district, and for years I have been saying that for K, 1 & 2 there shouldn't even be computers or other "gadgets". As Clifford Stoll asked in his book "Silicon Snake Oil", "Where are the sand tables?" and other hands-on, tactile, open ended learning stations. Most teachers, even Principals I bring it up to more or less agree... but... everyone says the parents won't stand for it.

Re:Where are the Sand (or Playdough) Tables? (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634738)

A computer is about the most open ended learning station you can get. Give a reasonably intelligent first or second grader a computer and so long as he has no fear of "breaking" it using software, chances are he will be able to use the computer fairly well, perhaps even better than an adult with low computer skills.

Re:Where are the Sand (or Playdough) Tables? (5, Insightful)

thoughtspace (1444717) | more than 4 years ago | (#30635194)

Computers are not open ended. Maybe it seems so to programmers (and programmers are limited by hardware, who are limited by applied physics/chemistry etc etc).

In may ways, paper is just as open ended.

The openness is also distorted by the commercial aspects of the company making the device. They effectively limit the openness by wanting to hit time-to-market dates and limit the complexity of design.

I doubt that the computer skills will be relevant - the technology moves on. No school predicted the requirement computers skills; and they will not predict the next skill needed by preschoolers.

The common skill you need is thinking and initiative.

Re:Going backwards? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30634686)

IAAITG (I am an IT Guy) who has two small kids.
Computers are an essential skill for the 21st century.
My 4 year old can log onto my wife's PC, and start up nickjr.com all by herself. We got her a DS for christmas.

But, my limited experience with small kids has shown me that basic toys are just as good. Blocks, crayons, paper, paint, making forts, kicking a ball, etc... the basics are cheap, never break, don't need electricity, promote being active, etc... did I mention cheap? $5 worth of coloring books and markers can last a long time.

I like tech. Computers are fun. But for educational purposes.... they're just another tool.

Re:Going backwards? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634688)

Educational software/hardware has long been a bit of a scam. As much fun as it was to shoot Injuns in Oregon Trail or sell lemonade with Lemonade Stand, I'm not exactly sure what it accomplished. I think computers have their place, but this idea that they could do for education what they did for business has never really come to fruition.

Re:Going backwards? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30635078)

Educational software/hardware has long been a bit of a scam

The prime function of the exercise is to transfer wealth to (ceo's of ) corporations - any other benefits are simply incidental.

Early childhood education theory a joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30634710)

I've studied a fair bit of education theory and what struck me was the overwrought theoretical justifications for being with young kids. Technologizing the kindergarten is just one more meaningless pseudorational intervention that frames childhood in terms of efficiency. What little kids need: friendly people around them, hugs and kisses, some things to play with, friends.

Re:Going backwards? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30634844)

I wonder if part of the problem is this: When you buy pencils for your classroom, you have to pay for them out of pocket because the school is too cheap to do so. But if you ask for shiny new technology, the school board might decide to pay for it with the funds that could have bought a decade's supply of pencils for every classroom in the school.
Sigh.

Think of the Apollo program (5, Insightful)

swb (14022) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634888)

Assume the average age of the Apollo program engineers was 40 in 1969.

That means they were in elementary school in the late 30s and early 40s -- what kind of "technology" were they taught with? Chalk, pencils and books -- maybe even slide rules and a compass. And those guys figured out how to put men on the moon!

I do work with schools occasionally and am appalled at the money pissed away on worthless shit like smartboards and computers & software that go obsolete faster than the districts can implement them. And after that I hear the ridiculous appeals from administrators who claim they don't have enough money to fix broken windows, paint the walls or other basic maintenance, because they pissed it all away on technology that is useless in 4 years and literally junk in 8. I want to cry when they say they need to raise my taxes for it.

Technology probably has more of a place in junior and senior high schools, but even then at a fraction of the level they try to implement it at.

Re:Think of the Apollo program (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30634928)

Assume the average age of the Apollo program engineers was 40 in 1969.

Actually, the average age was mid-20s, IIRC.

Moore's law? (3, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634514)

I wasn't aware there was a corollary dealing with childhood education. Or are you claiming, looking inside the old and new products, the transistor or storage density hasn't increased?

Re:Moore's law? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30634576)

What Moore's Law says is that the amount of transistors per dollar tends to increase exponentially, all other things being equal.

Gordon Moore had this to say about the so-called law:

"The original Moore’s Law came out of an article I published in 1965 this was the
early days of the integrated circuit, we were just learning to put a few components on a chip. I was
given the chore of predicting what would happen in silicon components in the next 10 years for the
35th anniversary edition of “Electronic Magazine”. So I looked at what we were doing in integrated
circuits at that time, and we made a few circuits and gotten up to 30 circuits on the most complex
chips that were out there in the laboratory, we were working on with about 60, and I looked and
said gee in fact from the days of the original planar transistor, which was 1959, we had about
doubled every year the amount of components we could put on a chip. So I took that first few
points, up to 60 components on a chip in 1965 and blindly extrapolated for about 10 years and
said okay, in 1975 we’ll have about 60 thousand components on a chip. Now what was I trying
to do was to get across the idea that this was the way electronics was going to become cheap.
It wasn’t true of the early integrated circuits, they cost more than the bits and pieces that you
could assemble cost, but from where I was in the laboratory, you could see the changes that
were coming, make the yields go up, and get the cost per transistors down dramatically. I had
no idea this was going to be an accurate prediction, but amazingly enough instead of ten doubling,
we got 9 over the 10 years, but still followed pretty well along the curve. And one of my friends,
Dr. Carver Mead, a Professor at Cal Tech, dubbed this Moore’s Law."

Re:Moore's law? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30635096)

Moore's law has been used to describe the trend in all advances in technology because those advances are usually related in some way to the transistor, and how many you have. I can't think of any new technology that doesn't use computers in some way, therefore Moore's law is a pretty decent trend to attribute to all technology advances now-days, including education (especially when TFA is about technology in education).

Shilling (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30634534)

today show = nbc = comcast/ge = best interests in moving consumer education backwards

Real question is... (2, Funny)

FloydTheDroid (1296743) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634558)

Does it let you cheat with Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A?

definitely an advance (3, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634592)

Touch screens are ok for older students, but tactile reinforcement of buttons is good for younger kids. What is also good is that kids are forced to abstract the button to understand that it will do somewhat different things at different times, i.e. act like a variable. Otherwise all they are doing is moving pictures around and not developing interconnects in their brains.

The biggest mistake I see in education is trying to provide the coolest and latest tech, instead of thinking what is best for concept development. Especially at lower levels teaching specific tech is not so useful. The tech will change in 10 years. When I left school was the time when we moved from command line to GUI. Fortunately I knew concepts,so it mattered little.

The $100 price point is also a major benefit. Like calculators, all classroms could have a class set. Quite a change from the time when we had a single PLATO terminal.

Re:definitely an advance (1)

dosius (230542) | more than 4 years ago | (#30635046)

Old Apple ][ educational software FTW. I'm still trying to find more of it. Mainly TLC and MECC. DLM had some good stuff too. Better by far than a lot of recent Windoze junk.

(inb4 Asimov: I know the site, I raid it frequently.)

-uso.

Apples and Oranges (4, Insightful)

Grond (15515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634628)

In 1972 the PLATO IV terminals (the kind described in the summary) cost $12,000 [wikipedia.org] . Adjusting for inflation, that would be over $60,000 today. Moore's Law has worked some miracles, but as the OLPC project showed, creating a child-oriented, large screen portable computer for $100 is still out of reach.

The better question is whether throwing technology at the problem is going to actually help children learn. Of course, the experiment has to be done, but I wouldn't be surprised if, once again, teacher quality and home life quality are by far the dominant factors in student success.

Re:Apples and Oranges (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634796)

as the OLPC project showed, creating a child-oriented, large screen portable computer for $100 is still out of reach.

Actually, CherryPal has managed to do that (not exactly child-oriented but so long as they aren't careless with it, it should last for a bit), but it would be a nightmare for support (http://www.cherrypal.com/openstore/product_info.php?products_id=5) because basically its duct-taped together with spare parts and could be ARM/x86

Re:Apples and Oranges (1)

michael_cain (66650) | more than 4 years ago | (#30635470)

Indeed. Not to mention that each terminal took up a few square feet of dedicated desk space, and consumed prodigious amounts of electricity (by contemporary standards).

The missing piece of the cheap child-oriented computer is an inexpensive durable display. OLED may get there -- it is inherently capable of being more robust than LCD, but the materials are still too expensive. If the resolution and monochrome display of the PLATO IV is acceptable, OLED displays are feasible today. I suspect that it is entirely possible to put something as capable as a PLATO into a 10x10x1 inch block of plastic that's completely sealed (recharge the battery by induction) and durable enough for a third grader for $100.

Only on slashdot (4, Insightful)

phizi0n (1237812) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634666)

Only on slashdot will you find a comparison where a 1970's terminal is declared superior to a modern gameboy-like product. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PLATO_(computer_system) [wikipedia.org]

Re:Only on slashdot (3, Insightful)

Garble Snarky (715674) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634784)

Seriously, is this summary a joke? I think someone saw "8.5 x 8.5" and "2.5" and decided those were the only numbers that could possibly be relevant, therefore we're going backwards.

Re:Only on slashdot (2, Insightful)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634966)

Indeed, no matter that the 1970's product cost $12,000, which in todays dollars is $60,000 - or 600 times more expensive than this little $100 thing.

Moore's law indeed.

As Clifford Stoll Said (5, Insightful)

coaxial (28297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634704)

Computers don't emit "smartness radiation."

Computers in the class room have been around at least 25 years. There was an Apple ][ in every classroom when I was a kid. We used it to die of dysentery on the Oregon Trail. Did we learn anything about history? No. We learned to that all that settlers needed was a 99 rounds of ammunition.

Computers in the classroom are just the latest incarnation of the whiz-bang technology that would magically make improve education and test scores, without requiring any more work on the child's, parent's, or teacher's part. Just like television, movies, and filmstrips were hailed as an educator's silver bullet generations before. (Stoll wrote about this [amazon.com] 14 years ago, and it stills holds true.)

Anyone that has attended class in any "e-learning" classroom, can attest that of the regular occurrences of projectors that don't work. Video and audio links that fail. Overly sensitive microphones and the like. The amount of time wasted trying to just set things up before instruction can begin is non-trivial, and easily can accumulate to entire missed days of instruction. No thank you.

Watching passively, and just clicking "next" is not education. The reason why it's used for occupational training, is that because no one wants to acutally teach, nor learn. It's indemnification.

If you really want to improve education, how about removing the distractions, and actually teaching out of the book?

Re:As Clifford Stoll Said (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30634758)

If you really want to improve education, how about removing the distractions, and actually teaching out of the book?

That seems so 1.0.

Re:As Clifford Stoll Said (3, Funny)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634872)

No. We learned to that all that settlers needed was a 99 rounds of ammunition.

Or that a rich banker will always win the game no matter his/her skill level :(

Re:As Clifford Stoll Said (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634890)

Computers in the class room have been around at least 25 years. There was an Apple ][ in every classroom when I was a kid. We used it to die of dysentery on the Oregon Trail. Did we learn anything about history? No. We learned to that all that settlers needed was a 99 rounds of ammunition.

But did you learn something about computers? Chances you did learn something if you are now on Slashdot. The role of computers should be to provide a shiny toy for students to want to figure out how it works. To learn reading to play an RPG, to learn history to learn the backstory behind war games, etc.

Computers in the classroom are just the latest incarnation of the whiz-bang technology that would magically make improve education and test scores, without requiring any more work on the child's, parent's, or teacher's part. Just like television, movies, and filmstrips were hailed as an educator's silver bullet generations before. (Stoll wrote about this 14 years ago, and it stills holds true.)

...And how many kids who are have graduated still remember watching The Magic School Bus and Bill Nye the Science Guy? My guess is a lot of them.

Anyone that has attended class in any "e-learning" classroom, can attest that of the regular occurrences of projectors that don't work. Video and audio links that fail. Overly sensitive microphones and the like. The amount of time wasted trying to just set things up before instruction can begin is non-trivial, and easily can accumulate to entire missed days of instruction. No thank you.

...Mostly because teachers and professors are absolutely clueless on technology having long lost the ability to learn after their last degree

If you really want to improve education, how about removing the distractions, and actually teaching out of the book?

...Because that would be removing over half the class and relying on a book that is usually severely out of date?

Article is a troll (3, Insightful)

steveha (103154) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634754)

The article submitter must be trolling. Decades ago there existed a one-off prototype, which was never widely deployed, that was hugely expensive. Now there exists an inexpensive learning gadget that might actually be in the hands of actual kids, and this is "moving backwards"?

Next up: is the phone industry moving backwards? At a world's fair, AT&T demonstrated a working two-way color video phone, yet I don't have a video phone in my house yet. Of course, millions of people have full-color Internet on their phones, and can do things like view a photo of their home taken from orbit. And millions of people have practical teleconferencing via WebEx et al. But never mind that. The phone company doesn't have video phones in every house; we're moving backwards!

steveha

Re:Article is a troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30634820)

At a world's fair, AT&T demonstrated a working two-way color video phone, yet I don't have a video phone in my house yet

The video phone was shown in 1964, and they actually had a video phone product in the 1980s, and then, nobody wanted it, so that was that.

Re:Article is a troll (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634924)

Not really the same thing... I think the idea was that Product X is touted as revolutionary, then later Product Y, which for being four decades later is curiously less advanced. Though once you look at the relative prices, it makes sense.

Your example would work if AT&T had demonstrated a hologram phone 40 years ago.

Vaporware of the past (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30634792)

I was an Illinois school child four decades ago, and neither I nor anybody I knew had even heard of PLATO until we got to the university level. From the article, it looks like it was deployed on a trial basis in a couple of classrooms in near the UIUC. However, the terminals were extremely expensive and required dedicated links to the mainframe. I doubt that the money and/or technology to widely deploy this in grade schools across the state would have been be practical until the 1990s. So bottom line: early childhood education was not more advanced back then, since only a tiny fraction of 1% of kids even had access to this experiment.

PLATO was amazing. It had many or most of the technologies used in the current web/email/chat/etc, but it somehow managed to support 400 people interactively sharing a single CPU that had about the same horsepower as an 80286. However, most of the people who had access to it were in university computer labs.

Inflation adjusted (2, Informative)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634838)

IIRC, the plasma display PLATO terminals (with slide projector and audio disk player for "color images, and audio") were upwards of $10,000 in 1974. That is close to $50,000 in 2009 dollars. If we compare $100 to $50,000 I think we can safely say Moore's Law is in operation even considering the smaller screen.

The real problem isn't regression in Moore's Law -- its regression in areas like software resulting from a loosening of the discipline allowed by exponentiating hardware capability. This is one reason the Russians are so damn hot as programmers: They had to make their software work correctly on ridiculous hardware developed by the commies.

Culture, not money (4, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634842)

If you bring children up in an environment where adults do not value education, don't be surprised when the children don't value it either. And when they do not value it, they aren't going to learn much.

I am not familiar with an effective rating scale, but I think one adult saying "Eeew, looks like Brain Work to me. No thanks!" within earshot of a child is probably -100 units whereas reading one children's book to the child is +1 unit. Similarly, suggesting that by learning the child is trying to "put on airs" is probably -500.

Today most of the people you meet on the street are suffering with a lifetime score of -50,000. If you are especially lucky the people you work with have only -1000 and somehow, dispite major obstacles managed to learn something.

In most schools getting good grades is utterly unacceptable to the peer social group. So the child can be an outcast with no friends or not - easy to choose, isn't it? This is the culture in the US today. A good part of it comes from the inner city "majorities" that have pretty much taken over there. Because of "white flight" to the suburbs where their children aren't exposed to an anti-education culture.

I recently saw a television program concerning a black educator trying to stir up some interest in children being educated and going on to college. Gasp, they might be successful! Biggest problem seemed to be that they had to pick and choose the children because so many were already infected by a culture that told them being educated was socially unacceptable.

If this problem isn't solved, no matter what technology is put into the classroom the situation is just going to get worse and worse. Cheap Chinese-made toys aren't going to fix anything. Expensive PLATO terminals aren't going to fix anything. Changing the culture is the only way.

Re:Culture, not money (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634942)

I don't agree that kids in the suburbs aren't exposed to an "anti-education" culture. It might not be a pervasive there (not to mention as pervasive in the adults there; inner city parents have a horrible anti-education attitude), but they are exposed to it through their peers. It's a society-wide problem in the U.S. It's easy to see when you compare it to Japan. If you read some translated Manga, you can see that the girls actually are interested in boys with good grades there, not just the big dumb jock.

Anyway, people have to want to learn. The drive isn't there any more for a good number of people in the U.S.

Re:Culture, not money (2, Informative)

dosius (230542) | more than 4 years ago | (#30635122)

When I lived out in the boonies, my family expected I'd go through the motions, then drop out at 16 to help out on the farm, and really didn't see the point in academic pursuits. But I'd venture the idea that education isn't of importance to the real world basically holds sway everywhere but the suburbs.

-uso.

Plasma != Thin screen (2, Informative)

Ken_g6 (775014) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634862)

I've never seen a "PLATO", so "touch-sensitive 8.5"x8.5" bit-mapped plasma screens" gave me visions of a tablet PC/laptop, maybe even like the Apple tablet that's supposed to come out soon.

Not even close! [wikipedia.org]

Two answers, and a challenge (ask) (3, Informative)

davecrusoe (861547) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634878)

Technologies are only part of the solution - not at all the entirety!

However, to avoid digressing from the topic of your question, my answers are several:

First, there is simply not the same incentive to create educational technologies as there is to create faster processors or larger hard drives. The benefit of a faster computer is clear and immediately actionable. The results of improved educational opportunities don't become clear for quite some time - 20 years or more.

Second, and more importantly, the comparison of Moore's law to education is inherently incorrect. Would your supposition be that the human cognition must double its... processing capability?... every few years, guided by increasingly powerful educational technologies?

If there is an opportunity, it's the opportunity that we're trying to capitalize upon: that armed with an understanding of how people learn, and coupled with the low costs of producing high-quality educational technologies, we can begin to make a difference.

The most important thing, in making that difference, is that technologies are used in such a way that they add something valuable to the experience of learning - whether it be visualizations with an explanation beyond what a teacher can reasonably provide; or equity; etc. Otherwise, the time required to set computers up, train teachers to use, develop lessons, etc., simply detracts from the educational potential of schools.

If anyone here - LAMP volunteers, especially - would like to become involved in making that happen, please let us know [plml.org] ! But, in the meantime, please don't use Moore's law as a point of comparison.

Cheers,
--Dave

Teachers Colleges are not teaching technology (3, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634880)

During the summer I work around many education majors, and I can tell you that teachers are not being taught anything about technology in teaching programs. Most times they have less technical skills than your average college students. They can't work their ipods or simple digital cameras and they often have trouble using basic web sites to fill in web forms. It's all anecdotal, but I see the same thing year after year and I've seen it even going back to my own teachers in the 1980s.

Anyway, I am apt to agree with other comments in this thread. I am for tech in the classroom, but it's not going to do any good with the teachers we are putting out in the field. The best and brightest don't go into elementary education, and right now the jobs aren't there. We need tech education for our kids to succeed, but there will have to be some other fundamental fixes made before that curriculum is even possible.

Re:Teachers Colleges are not teaching technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30635472)

During the summer I work around many education majors, and I can tell you that teachers are not being taught anything about technology in teaching programs. Most times they have less technical skills than your average college students. They can't work their ipods or simple digital cameras and they often have trouble using basic web sites to fill in web forms. It's all anecdotal, but I see the same thing year after year and I've seen it even going back to my own teachers in the 1980s.

Anyway, I am apt to agree with other comments in this thread. I am for tech in the classroom, but it's not going to do any good with the teachers we are putting out in the field. The best and brightest don't go into elementary education, and right now the jobs aren't there. We need tech education for our kids to succeed, but there will have to be some other fundamental fixes made before that curriculum is even possible.

I know what you mean, being the resident geek in my grade, i must help teachers with every little tech problem, with the exception of one teacher who teaches tech classes...it is unforgivable

last useful ed tech was... (1)

another_larson (1684820) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634882)

What is the most recent genuinely useful educational technology? Word processing, maybe? That's a good generation old, now.

It seems like technologists are very keen to apply the latest and greatest to education, when plain-old pencil and paper mostly work fine.

Re:last useful ed tech was... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634934)

E-mail is -very- useful, so is PowerPoint. While perhaps not so much of a big deal for elementary education, at the university level the ability to simply attach a document to an e-mail and not have to worry about the printers who manage to run out of ink/paper, jam, or simply won't print the night before you have to turn in a paper.

Beware the Teufel (1)

omb (759389) | more than 4 years ago | (#30635230)

e-mail is useful but PowerPoint is, in most hands, a work of the Devil.

Re:last useful ed tech was... (3, Insightful)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#30635322)

Before anyone rails on powerpoint here I'm going to say that it is a useful tool. Yes, a lot of kids make completely crap presentations with powerpoint. But it's no easier to make better presentations with poster board. Powerpoint gives you a bunch of blank slides and it's up to you to put the relevant material on them to make a good presentation, exactly the same as blank pieces of poster board.

Powerpoint makes making presentations easier, thus it makes it easier to make a bad presentation. Previously, someone wouldn't bother to even make a presentation, they'd just give a bad speech. Now they give the same speech but have some worthless pictures in the background at the same time. When the majority of users aren't going to put in the necessary amount of effort to make a good presentation, it's no wonder that most powerpoint presentations suck. That's no reason to blame powerpoint though, it's just lazy users.

As for student presentations, it's the fact that teachers don't bother correcting a student when they make a shit presentation. A student making a well thought out presentation with helpful slides usually gets an A. A student that copy and pastes text onto the slides, and then stares at the screen and reads the text to the class also usually gets an A. The teacher doesn't have the time to explain how to use powerpoint well because they're busy teaching the subject that they're supposed to be teaching. (i.e. econ teacher is busy teaching econ and can't take a week out of the curriculum to explain how powerpoint works). So if the teacher were to give the kid an F, then the parents show up bitching about how the teacher didn't explain powerpoint and how dare they give their kid an F, etc.

Summary: When someone builds a shitty house, you don't blame the hammer. Same with shitty presentations and powerpoint.

Meanwhile, in other news ... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#30634940)

... kids spend the rest of their waking hours texting each other on tiny cellphone screens.

Tech is just a tool (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30634980)

I was the IT guy in a K-12 school district for 7 years. I've seen the good and bad of technology in a classroom. The biggest thing is to remember that technology is just a tool. Nothing more, nothing less. That classroom PC (and other electronics) should be used to *enhance* the education and reinforce the lessons, not replace the teacher. And that tool is only as useful as the user makes it. I can buy a $100 hammer, but it won't put that nail in the wall by itself. If I want a hole in the wall, I can't go to WalMart and buy a hole. I buy a drill to make my hole. Same with a PC. It can't teach the kids by itself, it has to be used properly.

However, too often I saw teachers dump kids in front of a PC as little more than a babysitter. The kids would play an outdated math game and knew exactly how to "cheat" the game. (ex. - Doing basic math the kids had to input the answer to 8 + 7, they'd start at 12 and just keep increasing the answer by 1 until getting it right.)

So, is the technology moving backwards? No, I don't think so. The tech has advanced so much since I was in school! (Grad high school in 1992.) But if it's not used right, it may as well not be there at all.

Technology HAS NOTHING to do with READING (3, Interesting)

omb (759389) | more than 4 years ago | (#30635052)

This is a further example of the obsession with gadgets, which is so prevalent today. What you need are BOOKS for the age of the child, 3-4 lots of pictures, 7-8 less so, 10+ none, the better the books and teacher is the quicker it goes so long as they keep trendy teaching methods.

Grammar and spelling are important, especially at the beginning before the start recognizing longer words as Gestalt.

Once they can read feed them all the interesting, to them, books you can. Done right it can be amazingly fast, my 10 year old daughter taught her 2.75 year sister to read English in about 6 months to a reading age of ~ 7. Then she started teaching basic French but by the time she was 5 she could read, and talk simply in French.

Keep away from computers, the fonts and resolution are poor, and most width is too wide to read quickley, and if you make the lines narrower they are too short.

Finally they are not intelligently reactive to the student's needs and progress.

Fun and Education (1)

KalvinB (205500) | more than 4 years ago | (#30635270)

"Fun" is not the means to an education it is the primary function of it.

I use my education to do a lot of fun things. I do not use fun to get an education.

Same problem on Mac (1)

pubwvj (1045960) | more than 4 years ago | (#30635294)

This same problem happened on the Macintosh. Back under MacOS 9 and before there was a great deal of wonderful children's educational software. The companies consolidated and died off. Much of the software does not work in Classic under MacOS X. Now with Classic being abandoned by Apple even that which did work in Classic is no longer available. It's still great software, just no hardware and operating system to run it. I maintain an older computer for this. I used to have four. I'm down to one. Eventually there will be none. Very sad to lose this resource. Apple should have supported the older software on the newer hardware. Minor cost, minor emulation, major benefit to millions of children.

Sample of one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30635302)

Let's generalize from a anecdotal sample of one - shall we?

Why did this get posted anyway? I have submitted far more interesting things than this and they got ignored...

Sheez.

Children do not need electronics to learn. (4, Insightful)

serialband (447336) | more than 4 years ago | (#30635342)

Children do not need electronics to learn. Wasting money on gadgets will not make children learn faster or be smarter. It's an utter waste of educational funds to start k-3 on computers. Even with 4th & 5th graders, the best thing to start them on is typing, which means a cheap, old hand-me-down-computer is sufficient. That's assuming the 4th grader's hands are big enough to start touch typing. We still have far too many adults that can't touch type. Kids will learn all other aspects of computers fast enough on their own.

The main reason I see for having ocmputers at home, especially for the kids, is mainly for playing games. Education is and has always been a minor part of that equation. Kids have enough toys these days and need to get off their rear and go play outside. We've got more than enough unhealthy fat adults and we're getting too many unhealthy fat children these days.

Baby boomers are the problem (4, Informative)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 4 years ago | (#30635404)

The problem is that school administrations are all run by baby boomers. They're still too technologically naive (/.ers excluded) to consider the problems of abandoning traditional teaching methods for shiny bling. I had the displeasure of going through some computer based education in the 80's (Chelsea Clinton was in the same program just to name drop) and I vastly preferred regular classroom instruction. With regards to reading, there's nothing wrong with a regular book. It's important to teach children how to use those too. There isn't much value in getting kids to cram their faces into a glorified VTech toy.

Those in the position to make decisions about these things love to feel that they're doing something to help the poor and disadvantaged by sneaking some technological contrivance into the curriculum wherever they can. Books are a pretty advanced technology all their own. They are far more reliable, dependable, and cheaper than any gizmo based solution to a problem that doesn't exist. Even more importantly, it is necessary to instill some degree of self-sufficiency in the kids growing up today. Teaching them that they just need to rely on the machine to do everything for them and rely on it unquestioningly isn't the best way to prepare children for a productive life in our society. The mass deployment of electronic calculators in elementary school classrooms has led to the creation of generations of innumerate people. Certainly children should be encouraged to learn about the use of computers and information technology but that should not be used as an excuse to set them up into accepting computers as magic.

Gadgets may not help. (2, Interesting)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 4 years ago | (#30635490)

The US education system is troubled in such a way that devices may not help at all. Teachers are under serious pressure to aim their teaching at the middle and lower achievers which causes better students to be neglected. It is the only way to meet compulsory testing goals. After all the brighter students will do well on such tests despite being neglected whereas the mediocre middle and down right lousy students will score poorly. These days those scores can cost a teacher their job.
                          Really we need to aim our teaching at the brightest students and get the lesser students into work training programs and out of the way of the better students. Parents are the real problem in this regard. They bombard every official when their kid does poorly. And elected types tend to think in terms of the number of votes a position on an issue will get them.
                          England actually had a form of the draft that sent many young men into the coal mines. Others were directed into the armed forces. These were people not deemed able to succeed at higher callings due to poor school performance. It kept coal cheap and the armed forces populated. Other European nations weeded out lesser students after sixth grade and subjected them to real training as cooks or industrial workers.
                          If school courses are designed to strain the straight A students a bit the quality of school graduates is excellent. Try to redeem the mediocre middle and the schools fall apart.

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