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Schools To Get Their Own DARPA

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the hall-monitor-death-robots-here-we-come dept.

Education 151

Julie188 writes "A decade ago, Lawrence Grossman, former president of both NBC News and PBS, and Newton Minow, former chairman of the FCC, proposed that the government set up a multi-billion dollar trust that would act as a 'venture capital fund' to research educational technologies for schools, libraries and museums. Congress has finally approved the idea, and grants could start rolling by this fall. Dubbed the National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies, it should be to education what the National Science Foundation is for science, and DARPA is for national defense."

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Interesting acronym (1)

genkael (102983) | more than 4 years ago | (#30904772)

NCRAIDT or maybe NC-RAIDT or better yet just RAID-T. I wonder how much parity there is?

!acronym (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 4 years ago | (#30905302)

It's not pronounceable so it's not an acronym.

Acronyms are to abbreviations as squares are to rectangles.

Why does everything have to have an abbreviation? i'd like to see companies, institutions, protocols and the like with... NAMES. Just give it a name!

 

Re:!acronym (1)

Froze (398171) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907254)

Because acronyms are just a compression scheme to pack more information into the same space as a name. If you don't like acronyms, then ignore the compressed content and just use the letter sequence as the name (many common acronyms currently are treated in just this way: when was the last time you thought of laser or scuba as an acronym?).

Re:!acronym (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907876)

i like acronyms. i'm a milbrat and a veteran and a geek. i live in a world of abbreviations. i don't like the insistence that EVERYTHING needs an acronym. i'm sorry... IDLtITRNaA.

Re:!acronym (1)

coolsnowmen (695297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907284)

I would say Acronyms are to Initialisms are to abbreviations as Squares are to rectangles are to quadrilaterals.

Re:!acronym (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907920)

Heh. You're one of the ten people who have any idea what an initialism is. i'm not one of them.

Oh, man! I wish I had a DARPA (5, Funny)

thomasdz (178114) | more than 4 years ago | (#30904794)

When I was growing up, all the other kids on my block had a DARPA, but I didn't.
I had to do with some stupid National Science Foundation

Re:Oh, man! I wish I had a DARPA (1)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30904930)

You were lucky! All I had was a lousy National Endowment for the Arts. Every day I'd have some jerkoff smearing my walls with feces in the shape of the Virgin Mary in exchange for grant money. It was a nightmare.

Re:Oh, man! I wish I had a DARPA (5, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#30905514)

When I was growing up, all the other kids on my block had a DARPA, but I didn't.
I had to do with some stupid National Science Foundation

When I was growing up, all the other kids in the country had the National Science Foundation, but I didn't.
I had to make do with the Texas Board of Education [google.com] .

Re:Oh, man! I wish I had a DARPA (1)

furbearntrout (1036146) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907904)

Wow you really had it hard.

Re:Oh, man! I wish I had a DARPA (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906316)

When I was growing up, all the other kids on my block had a DARPA, but I didn't. I had to do with some stupid National Science Foundation

You're lucky you had a NSF. I'm a political scientist, they want us to not even have that!

Re:Oh, man! I wish I had a DARPA (2, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907206)

So you were doing National Science Foundation Work? I wonder how many people clicked on you by mistake.

I want to write the first grant application (0, Redundant)

Darth Sdlavrot (1614139) | more than 4 years ago | (#30904842)

for sharks with frikken lasers.

Finally? (5, Insightful)

spydabyte (1032538) | more than 4 years ago | (#30904912)

About time someone in government considers education as important as military "defense" and scientific breakthroughs.

Re:Finally? (1, Insightful)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | more than 4 years ago | (#30905186)

This is typical for the federal government. Not only is it unconstitutional (10th amendment) but, more than 60% of what is spent will go to the beurocracy and it will just suck up more tax dollars. Soon enough there will be no money for any of these programs because there will be nobody left to pay the taxes.

Re:Finally? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30905266)

Not only that, but it will just be one more way they will choose the winners and losers. Your school not teaching what the current admin likes ... don't expect any money from this program. it's a joke.

Re:Finally? (2, Insightful)

kaiser423 (828989) | more than 4 years ago | (#30905756)

Could you please explain to me how the federal government researching better educational methods violates the 10th amendment? Please. I'd love to hear it. This program isn't taking any power away from anything. It is just funding research into educational methods.

For those whom do not know, 10th Amendment is: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Seriously. Comprehend before ranting.

Re:Finally? (1, Insightful)

davejenkins (99111) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906052)

well-- the 10th amendment seems pretty clear: unless it's spelled out in the constitution, leave it to the states or the people. So, the real question is your own: Could you please explain to me where the feds get the right to do this? Which part of the constitution allows this?

Re:Finally? (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906616)

It says "powers" - not just random stuff. How is funding educational research a "power"?

Re:Finally? (1)

proslack (797189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906774)

It falls under regulating trade, IMO.

Re:Finally? (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907232)

It falls under regulating trade, IMO.

That doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

Re:Finally? (2, Insightful)

moeinvt (851793) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906366)

"Could you please explain to me how the federal government researching better educational methods violates the 10th amendment?"

I think that the OP chose poor wording and got the discussion going in the wrong direction. You shouldn't have to explain how a specific law "violates" The Constitution. That whole line of thinking rests upon the FALSE premise that "The government can do anything unless it's prohibited by The Constitution." The question should be "What part of The Constitution authorizes the Federal government to fund research into better educational methods?" If it really is DARPA-like, maybe it would fall under the power to raise and support armies, but then it would have to be renewed every two years.

Almost ALL Federal government involvement in education is un-Constitutional from NCLB, taxpayer grants and the whole bloody D of E itself.

Re:Finally? (4, Insightful)

StubNewellsFarm (1084965) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907706)

Do you really think that improving education doesn't fall under "promote the general welfare"? It has just as much justification as "provide for the common defense". Especially since Jefferson and other founders believed so strongly that a representative government would fail without educated citizens, you could also argue that support for education is necessary to "secure the blessings of liberty."

"I have indeed two great measures at heart, without which no republic can maintain itself in strength: 1. That of general education, to enable every man to judge for himself what will secure or endanger his freedom. 2. To divide every county into hundreds, of such size that all the children of each will be within reach of a central school in it." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1810. ME 12:393

Re:Finally? (1)

locallyunscene (1000523) | more than 4 years ago | (#30905610)

There is so much potential to leverage technology to make schools better too.

Current technology is all about transmitting large amounts of information to multiple sources and presenting it in different forms. Imagine being able to easily leverage the plans and methods of the "best" teacher in the country for your particular subject. Having good templates for making lessons more interactive using technology instead of sitting watching a lecture / screen.

Re:Finally? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30908166)

You do realize this announcement will be used as propaganda by politicians and business leaders that the US students are too stupid for STEM careers and hence need the "best and brightest" from India. What is wrong with students using textbooks, sheets of paper, pencil and pens, access to a well-stocked library and good teachers?

Re:Finally? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30905724)

About time someone in government considers education as important as military "defense" and scientific breakthroughs.

The current government-subsidized inflation in universities indicates to me that they are already vastly overfunded. Plus you have millions of people who can pay for their education. Same goes for scientific "breakthroughs". There's plenty of money coming out of government right now. Why pay for your own research when you can get the public to do it for you?

So we can pay for our own education and our own research, but who is allowed to pay for their own defense? That makes defense spending necessary unlike education and research spending.

Re:Finally? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30906732)

Too bad it ain't fuckin' defense. Its offence, and all in the name of MONEY and POWER. To say that education couldn't use more money is a terrible farce. To say that education is horribly inefficient is absolutely true. So is the military. So is the entire government. So is practically everything but micromanaged mom 'n pop shops. Its called overhead and all you can do is minimize it. Education needs all of the money it can get... if you lived in California you'd probably think differently as our education system is worse than most third world education systems.

Re:Finally? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30908048)

Its called overhead and all you can do is minimize it.

A very efficient way to minimize overhead is to not fund it in the first place. At least with private industry, I'm not required to fund their waste.

Re:Finally? (1)

The Spoonman (634311) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906960)

That makes defense spending necessary unlike education and research spending.

Tell that to companies like Kodak and Motorola who have made trillions on the sale of digital cameras that have their origins with the publicly-funded Hubble program. Governments need to fund research simply because businesses won't unless they see immediate value in it. Hell, the ubiquitous laser was called "a solution looking for a problem" when it was invented 50 years ago and we see how well that turned out. Most scientists who make discoveries are completely unaware of their potential applications, and unless you can come up with a sellable application to your board of directors, you're not going to get funding. That doesn't make the research useless or unnecessary, it just exposes the short-sightedness of most business owners.

Re:Finally? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907334)

The laser printer was invented 41 years ago, not 50, and it was invented at Xerox PARC. Given that this was a private, corporate, research centre, it's a pretty terrible example of the fact that private companies won't do research. At the time, it was too expensive to be competitive with other solutions. The first office laser printer was shipped by Xerox ten years after their first working prototypes and cost over $15,000 (around $35,000 in today's money), so calling it a solution looking for a problem wasn't too far wrong.

Oh, and the money that Xerox made from licensing the laser printer patents and from producing laser printers was more than the total cost of operating PARC from the time it was created until it was sold. Something worth mentioning to any corporate types who think that research has no ROI...

Re:Finally? (1)

The Spoonman (634311) | more than 4 years ago | (#30908046)

Great history lesson. I did not, however, say "laser printer", I said "laser" which was "invented" in 1959 (it was built on previous technologies and theories, but LASER was introduced to the world in the 1959 paper "The LASER, Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation"). I also didn't say private companies won't do research, I said that unless have a practical application, you're not going to get funding. Starkweather's research of the laser printer was a corporate-funded endeavor to produce something they could sell.

Re:Finally? (1)

Atraxen (790188) | more than 4 years ago | (#30908050)

He was talking about a laser, not a laser printer (the word "printer" never appeared in the GP.)

Replying to the entire thread here;
    Ammonia maser = 1953 - partially funded by US Navy as part of radar-type research (at Columbia)
    Funding for laser development = intervening years (ARPA, private, etc. funding)
    Ruby laser = 1960 - Hughes Research Laboratories

If anything, this is an example of the traction that comes from using public funding to stimulate scientific advancement until the public sector jumps in. HRL was excited enough that they publicized the heck out of the development, and the way corporations ran with it in the subsequent decades does show that companies would do well to keep pouring money into R&D (ala Bell Labs) but that public funding often gets the ball rolling. And oftentimes, that seed money comes with military aims (better radars) that gain massive traction and yield huge benefits in divergent fields (here, everything from music to telecommunications to supermarket checkouts.)

Re:Finally? (1)

Unequivocal (155957) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907654)

Not to be too pedantic but "trillions?" Really? The US Economy is about $12T/year, Federal budget is about $2T/year. How can digital camera sales make up some measurable percentage of that whole economy? Maybe you can provide some citation on that assertion?

Re:Finally? (1)

The Spoonman (634311) | more than 4 years ago | (#30908156)

I guess I could do that if you could explain how you think digital cameras have only been in production for one year.

Re:Finally? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907922)

You're just wrong. Even if we ignore the blatant error of your statements about the origin and economics of digital cameras, NASA spinoffs are myths. My view is that NASA funding is simply another source, like the US military (which incidentally does a lot more of this sort of funding) for doing research that would have happened anyway. The problem is simply that we see what was done, not what could have been done. So you see the research tainted by NASA funding and for some reason assume that the presence of NASA money means the research wouldn't have happened otherwise. I can't help you here. You need to figure out for yourself why your argument fails.

Re:Finally? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906982)

Exactly what I thought.

It’s sad, that the current reality is:
- Education is uncool.
- Don't dare to call me an idiot because I can't even program a DVR.
- But I get to insult you, because the elite should be hated!

Even sadder is, that those who really make something out of themselves, study hard, etc, let the dumb have their view of reality (the one above) imposed upon them.

There were better times. (At least I hope so.) Where you were respected and people listened to, when you were wise and educated.
(Of course it all depends on, if you act like a dick to make everybody your enemy, or for the good of those who then could be your friends.)

Total waste of money (3, Insightful)

Alexpkeaton1010 (1101915) | more than 4 years ago | (#30904970)

No amount of money is going to get parents in failing schools to care about their kid's education.

it will if it breaks the monopoly (3, Interesting)

xzvf (924443) | more than 4 years ago | (#30905170)

Technology has the potential to break the monopoly of school districts and classrooms. Right now kids are taught primarily one way. In groups of 20-30 they sit in classrooms and get education from a teacher. The quality of the teacher in process and as fountain of knowledge gos a long way in determining the success of the student. With proper infrastructure each kid can be taught in the way they learn best from the best instructors with the local teachers being facilitators of finding the knowledge. In addition to no child being left behind, we can get no child held back.

No it does not. (2, Informative)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906382)

because your going to have to ditch the educator unions too. Its a jobs program, both for those who went to school to teach and those who know the right people. The ratio of employees (teachers, admins, etc) to students has never been higher and education just keeps becoming less and less.

Reference the Vermont State of the Union speech given recently http://www.stateline.org/live/details/speech?contentId=449875 [stateline.org] and understand the problem facing education in this country. This "new DARPA for schools" will simply increase the number of non educators in the system further burdening it. We all know we can't get rid of the people we have and as such we just have to get more from any new program. Until we get over it and start ditching people who are not needed in the education budget we will never improve it. Yes it is sad we don't need all of them, but like the milkmen of days gone by, society adjusts to changing needs.

----------------
Since 1997, school staffing levels have increased by 23 percent, while our student population has decreased by 11.5 percent. The number of teacher's aides has gone up 43 percent. The number of support staff has gone up 48 percent. For every four fewer students a new teacher, teacher's aide or staff person was hired. There are 11 students for every teacher - the lowest ratio in the country - and a staggering five students for every adult in our schools. With personnel costs accounting for 80 percent of total school spending, it's no wonder that our K-12 system is among the most expensive in the nation at $14,000 per student per year.
In most organizations, if your customer base is shrinking, you make adjustments to stay within budget and, at a minimum, you stop hiring. Although some will be quick to scold that "education is not a business," neither is Medicaid or public safety or environmental conservation. But in each of these areas, if we ignore the basics of prudent financial management, we imperil the services that we provide. Until labor costs in our schools are brought under control, taxpayers can expect their bills to grow every year and the onus of the property tax will continue to threaten a healthy economy.
----------------

Re:it will if it breaks the monopoly (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906712)

+1 Would Buy You A Beer

This is why I like projects like CK-12.

CK-12 Foundation is a non-profit organization with a mission to reduce the cost of textbook materials for the K-12 market both in the U.S. and worldwide. Using an open-content, web-based collaborative model termed the "FlexBook," CK-12 intends to pioneer the generation and distribution of high quality educational content that will serve both as core text as well as provide an adaptive environment for learning.

http://about.ck12.org/ [ck12.org]

Re:Total waste of money (3, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30905374)

If a parent doesn't care about a kid's education then no, there's no way to get them to care. The trouble is the educators themselves talk up a good "parental involvement" but the fact is the only involvement they want from parents is fund raising.

As a parent who cared about his kids' education this was an immense frustration to me.

Re:Total waste of money (1)

apt142 (574425) | more than 4 years ago | (#30905736)

Do you think this is because of the quality of the teachers or the administrators? In my experience teachers are often very open to different avenues of parental involvement and new education approaches but are often handcuffed by bureaucracy and poor administrators. I'm hoping these funds will act like a big fat carrot to get these administrations to update their lines of thinking and adapt.

Re:Total waste of money (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906034)

I'm hoping these funds will act like a big fat carrot to get these administrations to update their lines of thinking and adapt.

More likely it will act like a big fat carrot to get these administrations to write up proposals as to why they need that money to keep doing things the way they always have. If it has to go to "innovation" they'll argue as to how the way they've always done things is "innovative".

Re:Total waste of money (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906446)

Definately the teachers. I'd go to a parent-teacher conference with my concerns, have the teacher agree completely, and then act as if there never was a conference. This wasn't just one teacher, either, it was all of them, with both daughters.

I blame the low pay teachers get. It doesn't attract the best and brightest. I don't think any of my or my kids' teachers were Mensa candidates and I know for a fact my own teachers back in the stone age had IQs less than 100. I had an English teacher fail one of my papers (HS Freshman) because she thought I made the word "hierarchy" up, and a science teacher the same year give me an A because he couldn't understand the paper -- it was way over his head, and he said so in his notes.

Re:Total waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30906590)

...and a science teacher the same year give me an A because he couldn't understand the paper -- it was way over his head, and he said so in his notes."

Sounds like this guy was at least much wiser than more of /.

Re:Total waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30906254)

Pretty much this.
Both the children AND the parents need to have a course being taught to them. (teached in your case?)

Even if the parents get a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly night course of some sort.
It might add a slight cost to the overall price, but getting parents to care about education as well as interested in their own kids education and future would make a HUGE change.`

Of course, some will question whether things need to change because "the natural order" of things will result (as usual) in a balance leaning towards the lower-tier jobs that effectively "run the country".
If the lower-tier job hunters suddenly jumped up a level, what's going to happen to the higher-tier ones? There is going to be a crunch in job positions all across the sectors, and people will eventually end up in the lower jobs, regardless of their PHDs or whatever.
Hell, the average camera operators on Live Sex Chat websites are usually college material, one was the sister of my friends friend, another girl i saw in college.
But the problems with the "Job system" is just as bad as education, in fact it is even worse, that problems just not going to get fixed for a very long time.

Re:Total waste of money (1)

Unequivocal (155957) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907726)

But it might provide some motivated kids and teachers with some new tools and content to get a better education despite the system they're stuck in. For example, if only four kids want to take calculus at (say) Crenshaw in LA, they're screwed b/c you can't set up a calculus class with only four kids, without Jaime Escalante-like dedication from a teacher.

But with online tools, you can potentially let those four kids learn with online programs and remote teacher interaction with less time required from local staff (who might not have the skills and definitely don't have the time to teach a dedicated AP calc class). It doesn't solve the problem for all 2000 kids at a poor high school, but you have to support achievement in order to spread achievement, which is something Mr Escalante proved quite a while ago (he's the real teacher that "Stand and Deliver" movie was based on).

I'm a bit dubious... (5, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30904986)

The reason is two experiences: one me in school, and the other my youngest daughter in school.

When I was a kid they came up with the "new math". Basically, it was a different way to do long division. The theory was that this new way better explained how numbers work, but in reality it did no such thing. All it did was to prevent my parents from helping with my homework, since I couldn't do long dividion like they did and they couldn't do it like I was taught. I was at a disadvantage for years, until I learned how to use a slide rule, which actually did teach me how numbers worked.

When my daughter was in kindergarten they had a new thing called "invented spelling", and it was an unmitigated disaster. She still misspells many words the same way she misspelled them before she learned to read (she's 22 now).

The truble with new teaching technologies is that unlike medical experiments, you can't do them on animals first. Test them on real kids and if the experiment fails, so do the children.

Re:I'm a bit dubious... (3, Funny)

jimbobborg (128330) | more than 4 years ago | (#30905054)

When my daughter was in kindergarten they had a new thing called "invented spelling", and it was an unmitigated disaster. She still misspells many words the same way she misspelled them before she learned to read (she's 22 now).

The truble with new teaching technologies is that unlike medical experiments, you can't do them on animals first.

I see you have truble spelling, too.

Re:I'm a bit dubious... (3, Funny)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30905268)

Oh the irony

Re:I'm a bit dubious... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30905762)

I see you have truble spelling, too.

I have trouble hitting the keys on my keyboard hard enough. Sometimes I have troubble hitting them too hard.

Re:I'm a bit dubious... (5, Funny)

dwandy (907337) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906158)

Turns out mcgrew's daughter is an excellent speller.

Re:I'm a bit dubious... (3, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30905292)

"Invented spelling" is now a failure directly because of technology.

The idea was good. Following a strict step by step procedure and stressing out and getting stuck is the right way to go math (?) but miserably fails for language arts. If you can't figure out one word, get on with life and finish the rest of the task. Its also a great way to learn to read, if you can't figure out one word, don't chuck the book across the room and go play donkey kong, just work around it, you'll figure it out later by osmosis or whatever. Its like solving an equation by successive approximation vs simple plug and chug.

Now, before BBS leet speak, email, SMS, myspace, kids had good osmosis sources. I never learned anything in English classes in school, I learned English solely by osmosis from Clarke, Asimov, and whomever wrote the Tom Swift and Hardy Boys Mysteries.

The bad news, is now kids learn English by osmosis from illiterate morons on myspace, youtube, rap videos, text messages, etc. That directly leads to:

She still misspells many words the same way she misspelled them before she learned to read (she's 22 now).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inventive_spelling [wikipedia.org]

Re:I'm a bit dubious... (2, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30905984)

The lesson is, have your kids read lots of real books before you let them on the internet or a cell phone. Hard to do these days, though.

Re:I'm a bit dubious... (1)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906074)

Victor Appleton wrote Tom Swift, both series. That one I remember. I don't remember who wrote Hardy Boys.

Re:I'm a bit dubious... (1)

suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906180)

I don't frankly understand why that skill has to be taught, as it is the intuitively obvious thing to do. In fact, teaching it or otherwise officially encouraging it seems to me to put the emphasis entirely in the wrong place--it says that the truth isn't important as long as it can be sussed out.

How many times, in the past or the present, are you going to be completely and utterly without any way to find out how to spell a word? No dictionaries, nobody around who knows, no nothing? If at any particular moment you don't know how to spell it, that's fine, even if you have resources available to you--barring of course some sort of technical or official document where it matters. But it's generally polite if you do it casually to go back and find out later, and not make the same mistake again.

I do agree about the learning by osmosis bits. In the same way some people love language, I guess, some hate it, or just think it's a giant dork.

Re:I'm a bit dubious... (2, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907564)

My spelling was terrible as a child. We had spelling tests every week, and I regularly got under 50%. It remained terrible until I was 14, at which point I was allowed to type most of my essays (GCSE coursework can be either handwritten or typed). I used Word 6, which underlined spelling mistakes in red. If I used a correct spelling, I could move on. If I used an incorrect one, there was immediate feedback and I had to interrupt my flow, make the correction, and then carry on. Lots of people criticise this spelling system for exactly that reason - that it breaks flow - but when learning it was great. Previously, there was no direct feedback. If I used an incorrect spelling in a handwritten essay, I could make the same mistake ten times, learn that incorrect spelling through repetition, and only find that it was wrong when I got the marked version back. If I made a mistake in a typed essay, I'd make it a couple of times, correct it each time, and then learn the correct spelling.

Re:I'm a bit dubious... (1)

Unequivocal (155957) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907834)

The current research does not support your hypothesis:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/8468351.stm [bbc.co.uk]

Texting in shorthand actually increases literacy levels and the ability to spell "real words" correctly.

Re:I'm a bit dubious... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30905912)

But the fact is that your daughter will live the rest of her life just like everybody else. Experimenting teaching technologies doesn't create a generation of faulty children.
Society and culture changes between generations anyway, and when it does, we are not probably here anymore to see the consequences.
The next generation will learn from our mistakes and successes.

Re:I'm a bit dubious... (2, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906488)

She was lucky the experiment was in spelling, and not math or other such subject. Ten times ten is always one hundred.

Re:I'm a bit dubious... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30907950)

Though that works in base 10 and 2, it doesn't work for base 8.

Re:I'm a bit dubious... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30906146)

I can hardly believe this. New Math, inventive spelling...? Stupid humans! Bad! Bad!

Sorry for your loss (daughter...).

Re:I'm a bit dubious... (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906556)

I've found that this kind of stuff is prevalent throughout all grades of school - and it annoys the hell out of me. I have a room-mate who went to the same school I did, one Grade Behind me. We both took full physics and chem 30 in high school. We were playing 1 vs 100 one night (It was actually like this weekend) and one of the questions was "The Quantum Particle known as the Gluon has an effect which force?" (or something to that effect) and the answers were A) Gravity B) Magnetism C) Strong Force.

Turns out the answer was Strong Force.
Now I had learned an incredible amount of how Gravity works in Physics, and a lot about Magnetism as well. We learned what the strong force was but not really how it operated, we had learned about the Weak force in Chemistry. My room mate came home like 20 seconds after the question, and I went "Man, if only you were home a minute ago, you could have helped me with some serious science and math questions". And he asks what one was and I told him the answer. I know my room mate is big on Quantum Mechanics and all that stuff, he reads about it in his spare time, so thats how I knew he would know.

And he looked at me with an arched eyebrow, all "You don't know what a Gluon is? That was in like, High School, Dude."

Turns out his curriculum covered that stuff, mine didn't. I learned more about the Electromagnetic Spectrum and the way light acts/reacts. And all in the change of 1 year. Kind of weird how these things work out.

Re:I'm a bit dubious... (1)

bill_kress (99356) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906902)

DNA and family-learned patterns can have more to do with your life than you'd think.

Some parents responded by learning "New Math" and helping their children. This would be a pretty good response.

Some parents got tutors (other children) to help their children. Good response as well.

Some parents just said "Figure it out, and if you can't--ask your teacher". Meh, reasonable response if you really don't want to put in the effort.

The only BAD response would be avoiding your feelings of inadequacy by ranting about how horrible the schools are to your children, harming his learning experience and harming him for life. Ranting about the school to your child is about as self-centered and damaging as telling them how bad your X (Their mother or father) is--it only makes things harder on everyone and is utterly pointless.

School had very little to do with my learning math or reading. My mom made sure I could read before I entered kindergarten and math was just a matter of attacking it again and again. My mom helped when she could, and admitted when she couldn't, but didn't get all bent out of shape and blame the school's methods because she couldn't admit a lack of knowledge.

Re:I'm a bit dubious... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30907314)

They introduced Everyday Mathematics (https://www.everydaymathonline.com/) in my daughter's Elementary school, luckily only 4th and 5th grades. Turns out that the lower-performing kids do better with such a program but it holds the good students back. She is a straight-A student (8th grade now) but had problems with the math transition especially with Algebra 1.

There are no silver bullets. There are many ways to learn. Some learn by doing, some by reading, some need both. Our current educational system has become so PC especially with the No Child Left Behind that we actually end up leaving the best and brightest behind (they are a minority of the chart on the right so they don't count, I guess).

I also wonder how much will be spent on expensive research and expensive pilot programs using proprietary tools, technology, books, tests, etc. One stipulation should be that most/all developed using these funds be open sourced.

I wonder how much Microsoft will get for "smart schools"?

Another clever way ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30904994)

... to piss away money. Kids in 3rd world countries learn to read and write with just a teacher, a blackboard and some sticks to write in the dirt with. US schools can't competently teach even when given $15,000 /yr/student. More money is not the answer.

Re:Another clever way ... (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 4 years ago | (#30905332)

In other words, they try to solve a social problem with a technical solution.

Re:Another clever way ... (2, Insightful)

Unequivocal (155957) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907918)

It's not like they're redirecting massive amounts of funding towards this. The total US K-20 education budget is $1T (bigger than Defense, FYI). It's not all controlled by the Feds of course - it's highly distributed. Even so, it seems reasonable to me that spending small amount of money on "big think" projects to develop answers for the future state of education is wise. You can't fix everything with technology but you ought to be able to improve the state of technology in education at the least, and at best improve overall education by developing totally new ways of using technology in education.

Re:Another clever way ... (1)

smitty777 (1612557) | more than 4 years ago | (#30905370)

I was starting to write a clever riposte to this,but I think you have a really good point. Why not spend the money on building up the public schools and teachers. That being said, there is still a need to at least stay on top of the flood of new technology. Not only to keep the kids competitive, but to actually find new ways to make use of the technology we have to make the learning process more efficient.

Re:Another clever way ... (2, Interesting)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 4 years ago | (#30905682)

technology can help the classroom. many technologies don't help the classroom. educators/administrators are pressured to fight for and then use technology budgets to show how well they are educating. The big problem is they have to guess at (a) what is available, (b) what is useful, (c) what is effective. (b and c don't always coincide).

For a while technology meant 'get PCs in the schools'. Now it's more than that. I've seen more immediate benefit in a classroom from a $75 digital camcorder (showing the kids a discussion session, reviewing an oral presentation, etc. so that they get a 3rd person view of themselves.) than a $50,000 'learning lab'. "Prometheus Boards" are the new hot item http://www.vimeo.com/367993 [vimeo.com] with some use shown when used right in certain classrooms. But what's the best way to use them, what is and isn't more effective than traditional teaching methods (with a zero dollar comparison cost), etc.

These are all questions it would be nice to have answers to, simply because experiments on real kids are tough to accept when they extend beyond minor things.

Waste of money (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30905004)

To quote the fine article:

To build support for the project, the group created three prototypes: an educational video game for biology students called Immune Attack; a game for museums, called Discovering Babylon; and a computer simulation to train firefighters in high-rise fires. They typify the projects the center will be looking to finance.

So, basically, its about building a virtual simulation that costs more per user than doing something real? My guess is the immune system video game will cost more than buying books, microscopes, and slides. The Babylon museum game (wtf?) will cost more than a field trip to a real museum. The virtual fire fighting simulator will cost more than having the building trades class build a freaking building.

The National Science Foundation, Mr. Grossman said, started in 1950 with a six-figure appropriation; its fiscal year 2009 appropriation was nearly $6.5 billion.

Ahh, thats the goal, build a new bureaucracy. God knows we need more million dollar executive bonuses.

Re:Waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30905340)

I did some work on a technology programme for schools in the UK. The kids could upload their work and parents could look at it at any time.

It was, to my mind, adding technology and complication and achieving nothing more than if kids just took their books home every week.

I work in computing and see the benefits, but of all the stuff I saw there, none of it convinced me of being beneficial.

Re:Waste of money (1)

kaiser423 (828989) | more than 4 years ago | (#30905826)

I agree with you about the games versus hands-on learning, and hopefully the results of the research that the commission is funding will show a strong need for hands-on education.

What I don't get is your "God knows we need more million dollar executive bonuses." comment. How in the hell is this going to exacerbate that problem? The head of DARPA doesn't get big bonuses, the head of the NSF doesn't get big bonuses, etc. I believe that federal employees *can't* get million dollar bonuses. If anything, this helps that situation...

Re:Waste of money (1)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906376)

The virtual fire fighting simulator does have one advantage: you can't die if you fail. Even a very carefully built real world training building is dangerous enough to kill the trainees. It's not a bad thing to give them detailed first person training in a simulator first. That and it's specifically for high-rises, which are not as cheap to build as you might hope. I've seen plenty of firefighter training video of fires in wooden structures maybe five stories tall. I've never seen firefighter training video on the 47th floor in a concrete and steel high-rise. That sounds like a very different problem to me, and one that would be very expensive to train in by using up actual buildings.

The other two sound a lot less useful to me.

Their Own DARPA?? (2, Informative)

smitty777 (1612557) | more than 4 years ago | (#30905014)

Sorry, the title of this article is pretty misleading. DARPA [darpa.mil] is working on missile defense and high energy laser technology. The current lofty plans for this group? Three video games.

I laud this effort. It's something we desperately need to do to stay competitive. But there's no need to oversensationalize.

Re:Their Own DARPA?? (1)

thenextstevejobs (1586847) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906602)

.. there's no need to oversensationalize.

new here?

good for NSF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30905106)

This sounds like a waste of money, but if such an organization took over the educational role of the NSF, and let the NSF return to just doing basic research, it could be a good thing. However the more likely scenario would be for the new organization to be heaped on top of what the NSF does. The NSF is increasingly being run by kindergarten teachers, and has less and less to do with basic research.

Another hole for my tax $ to fall into .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30905118)

Golly, we really need more bureaucrats and professional Windows Solitaire players in this country.
And kids in school really need more exposure to media rather than that dirty, scary real stuff.

I nominate... (3, Informative)

Jonah Hex (651948) | more than 4 years ago | (#30905216)

I hope they allocate some money for existing projects, personal favorites are LTSP [ltsp.org] and FOG Project [fogproject.org] ; both of which are used in schools and my own personal computer lab for fun.

I'd hate to see the money dumped into new projects that cost way too much, and don't do half of what already exists out there.

Feel free to add your own, I can always use more bookmarks.

Jonah HEX

Re:I nominate... (1)

spydabyte (1032538) | more than 4 years ago | (#30908126)

Yes, I hope they give money to a free open source solution like FOG as well. Kidding aside, you're completely right. Projects can often be leveraged in new spaces with the proper application, which requires proper funding.

So it's like IMLS, only ... digital? (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 4 years ago | (#30905382)

I admit, IMLS [imls.gov] doesn't do education in general, but they've been around for some time, and fund museums and libraries. US Dept. of Education has some grants for education ... so the only thing differentiating this one from stuff that's well established is that it's all about 'digital technologies'.

I'm less than impressed. All that this is going to do is add bureaucracy. You're going to have people attempting to apply for grants at all of the available places, and with such limited funding, I wouldn't be surprised if they spent more in evaluating proposals and administering the program than in awards.

(I've sat on a few government grant review panels, although not in this field, and the amount to be awarded is down, but the number of proposals is up ... and we make sure that *every* proposal is given a fair evaluation, which means a *lot* of people being involved, so you have enough expertise to understand what's being proposed and what its potential impacts are. On the review boards I've been a member of, each proposal is assigned a primary and two secondary reviewers, who have to submit their reviews before review starts, then you meet face-to-face (in groups of 8-12 people) to review a block of maybe 25-40 proposals, and you have to have a written report for each proposal to submit to the program head by the end of the last day of the review period. As there will be multiple groups, each with a different special focus, you might also pass some proposals around so they're seen by even more people.)

As some of us get travel reimbursement and/or honorariums, and the government employees are pulled from their normal jobs, it's probably safe to say that the review boards alone might cost a person-day per proposal, not including all of the other administration that goes into it.

about time (1)

Goldsmith (561202) | more than 4 years ago | (#30905546)

That acronym still needs work (NCRAIDT?), but it's nice to see the Education Department taking responsibility for, you know, doing their job. There has been significant grumbling among some scientists that we've essentially been forced to include pre-university educational plans in our NSF research grants.

Re:about time (1)

mforbes (575538) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906562)

My former father-in-law works for the Dept of Education. I once asked him "What exactly does the Department of Education do, anyway?"

His response: "Are you sure you're not a Republican?"

Thank goodness we've always gotten along!

Re:about time (1)

Unequivocal (155957) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907964)

People in the trade call this org "Digital Promise" - just fyi. It's been around for a couple of years - but it just got it's first funding allocation ($500k), which is what is making news.

Schools don't need this (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 4 years ago | (#30905760)

What they need are the following things:

1) A legal environment which bitch slaps parents who bring frivolous lawsuits.
2) A competitive market for services.
3) Less politicization.

For God's sake, schools are considering getting rid of science classes [blogspot.com] because they "need more money for struggling minorities." That is how severe the need for privatizing and depoliticizing the process is. The politically correct would rather pull everyone down so that no one is left behind (because we're all not moving forward) than see a less equal, but more competitive (and eventually cheaper) marketplace for educational services.

lol, no national curriculum (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30905772)

US public schools still have no common/minimal national curriculum. Before you, idiots, will start developing your "educational technologies" you will have to wrestle public school curriculum out of your States' hands.

Re:lol, no national curriculum (1)

moeinvt (851793) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906820)

"US public schools still have no common/minimal national curriculum."

We have crap like the "No Child Left Behind" program and other Federal mandates.

"Before you, idiots, will start developing your "educational technologies" you will have to wrestle public school curriculum out of your States' hands."

That would be un-Constitutional, and even if it wasn't, the WORST thing we could do is entrust our education system to the Federal government.

The Federal government has no enumerated power to interfere in the educational system, so we would need a Constituional Amendment to get education "out of the state's hands" Thank $deity that's never going to happen.

Next, I'm not sure where you're from, but the most idiotic approach to education I can think of is having a bunch of highly paid bureaucrats in air conditioned offices making unfunded mandates on thousands of schools that they know nothing about, will never visit, and will never get feedback from. The United States is a diverse place, and educational solutions that might work in the city of Chicago may not be the best fit for rural Idaho. The parents, teachers, students and taxpayers of the local community care about the education of the kids in that community more than anyone in the Federal government. All the Feds do is dream up models of their centrally planned utopia and then use threat and force to bend the real world to fit that model. It creates tension, anger and frustration and lowers the overall quality of education.

Some national collaboration is obviously healthy. I'd like to see representatives from various state governments convene during summer vacations to discuss things like common curricula and to develop and share best practices based on genuine experience. Those sorts of collaborations would be much better and much cheaper than anything that the central planners in the DofE can come up with.

Re:lol, no national curriculum (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906940)

That would be un-Constitutional,

For this right-wing wacko view of US Constitution, so is IRS.

and even if it wasn't, the WORST thing we could do is entrust our education system to the Federal government.

Except all other countries with better-educated population have just that.

The Federal government has no enumerated power to interfere in the educational system, so we would need a Constituional Amendment to get education "out of the state's hands" Thank $deity that's never going to happen.

Enjoy your fail, then.

Good idea (2, Interesting)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 4 years ago | (#30905836)

I'm not certain how the bureaucracy is going to work, but there are tools being developed right now for education that are really kind of neat. If you ask almost any teacher, they'll tell you the biggest problem with teaching kids is simply keeping them awake in class. Tools that are designed to allow more interaction are important. Not all teachers can be Mr. Smith from Junior High who would dance on his desk while reading a chapter Dante's Inferno to the class or Mrs. Peabody who speaks in Olde English phrases for the entire two months of Shakespeare. So if someone can piece together technology to make your boring teachers fun again, I'm all for it.

There's a tool developed by...I can never remember...I want to say somewhere in Washington State. Basically the teacher gives two students (volunteers) tablet PCs and she has her own. She projects her laptop, and the other two tablets can be viewed (along with her own) through a program on the rest of the students' laptops, phones, etc. She goes about teaching her course. The tablet students take notes through a piece of software, make adjustments to a copy of her slides, etc. The other students use the same software to view all this, including able to do cool things like highlight words and get quick definitions. It's sort of collaborative note-taking. And all of the teacher's original slides as well as all the notes from the tablet users are stored online for later viewing.

How does this help? Because the tablet students may take notes you're not thinking of, right or wrong, and it opens your mind right there and then to alternative thoughts. You're not stuck re-writing what the teacher is doing and trying to think on it later. You're more engaged this way. But most importantly, you're paying attention, either to the teacher or the tablet users' writing. The teacher even said she doesn't really ever look back on the tablet users' notes. She'll occasionally hear giggles from the class but to her, that just means they aren't asleep.

Re:Good idea (1)

dcollins (135727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906410)

"There's a tool developed by...I can never remember...I want to say somewhere in Washington State. Basically the teacher gives two students (volunteers) tablet PCs and she has her own. She projects her laptop, and the other two tablets can be viewed (along with her own) through a program on the rest of the students' laptops, phones, etc. She goes about teaching her course. The tablet students take notes through a piece of software, make adjustments to a copy of her slides, etc..."

I just about fell asleep reading that. Techno-fetishism is not the solution.

Re:Good idea (1)

supercrisp (936036) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907504)

I know the invention: reduce the number of students for which a student is responsible. Then he or she can interact more with the students. I need to get a patent on this process.

NCRAIDT - acronym sucks (3, Funny)

d474 (695126) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906002)

It will never last with an acronym like that. Should have called it National Education by Research Department.

this sounds familiar... (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906016)

BitNet, is that you? SENDFILE, please!

First order of business... (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906216)

Create open source course materials, and put all the textbook companies out of business! Textbooks should be a collaborative effort between teachers with decades of experience in real classroom settings, not work-for-hire by companies that have a vested interest in revising the text every year just to sell a few more copies. Of course, the lobbyists for the publishing houses might have some objections to this plan...

Re:First order of business... (1)

supercrisp (936036) | more than 4 years ago | (#30907520)

You do know that those are teachers hired to write the textbooks, right? In some cases, sad. But still true.

Re:First order of business... (1)

Unequivocal (155957) | more than 4 years ago | (#30908124)

You may be closer to the mark than anyone else. There are active conversations going on in DC about how to open up the content and learning systems markets to more competition. And OSS could be one key driver to accomplish that.. Coping with lobbyists is going to be a big challenge, and I'm surprised no one prior to your comment mentions that one reason things are fouled up is the market incentives in education. It's not just "crack parents who don't care" "lazy teachers just pulling a paycheck" and "students who fall asleep from boredom." There are some deeper financial issues at play here and a lot of different parties who may have interest in keeping things rolling in the status quo (aka easy money).

education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30906368)

At least US government is doing something, here in the UK, the education is poor, not even close to USA, bad standards and funny is when I approach many local public schools to offer membership to a robotic club for kids, they just say "not interested" they not even let me had the opportunity to talk

Education is the only way countries can progress, and increment the GDP, loot at china for instance, (yes I know, about the human rights issues, and etc. I'mnot into politics) but is a good example.

I'm not form the UK, but when I came, here to work as High skilled, I was shocked by the education (well, I'm still here and I help my kids in thier education)

Anyway, good for the USA, I hope they can lead the education and progress once more.

(Education- Education- education - Tony Blair (What a lie!!!)

Re:education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30906644)

Sorry I misspell look (loot)and if I have some more errors my apologies, i'm in a rush

Sit down and study (1)

proslack (797189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906746)

Or we could wean from the Ritalin and buy a few more textbooks.

who the fuck is Lawrence Grossman? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30907892)

If he were somebody who had actually achieved something other than being a career talking head, he might actually have some credibility (too bad Congress is full of similarly delusional idiots).

Education today, especially at levels below university, is mostly pork barrel social assistance to chronic under-achievers (students AND teachers), who would otherwise have troubles keeping up with mainstream society.

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