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Some Aussie High Schools Moving To Two Devices Per Child

timothy posted about 4 years ago | from the six-on-weekends dept.

Education 152

sholto writes "One laptop per child is so last year. Private secondary schools in New South Wales, Australia are in discussions to upgrade their wireless networks so they can handle the strain of supporting a two-to-one ratio — a laptop and tablet for every student."

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If only (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34034760)

If only they'd move on to two niggers per acre of plantation.

Public Funds (2, Interesting)

bbqsrc (1441981) | about 4 years ago | (#34034764)

Let's see the supporters of the public education system bitch that the private system is abusing public funding to give better services to their students than the public system. They will bitch, and the private system will abuse the funds. Ah NSW.

Re:Public Funds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34035968)

I have to agree with you here. Government waste stems from a combination of lack of caring oversight and political not business based decision making. They just don't care if the money gets used properly or if any value is given back to the tax base. If you handover the funds to a private business and the owner of that business doesn't care about the above and no one is making sure that his bottom line is effected then the business will became as bad or worse then the government run one. I personally think that private business can do a better job at running various services but only if the government does it's job of punishing business when they don't fulfill their contracts. To put it simply: Business work effectively in a competitive environment where the bad business go bankrupt.

haha (1)

scum-e-bag (211846) | about 4 years ago | (#34034768)

Yeah. Take that you poverty stricken public schools.

Re:haha (2, Interesting)

donscarletti (569232) | about 4 years ago | (#34036040)

Well, as someone who went through K-12 in the NSW public school system, I believe that a parent should have the right to get the same amount of government funding to educate their child be it at a public or any other school that teaches an approved curriculum. The bulk of private schools are not exceedingly affluent, some have a smaller total funding per student than state schools. Some private schools have money to blow on oversized network infrastructure, but this is not a typical one.

During my education in the public school system, I saw 50% or more of the teachers being quite good. Most of the principals I saw were promoted far above their level of incompetence and the bureaucracy who control the money seem to be composed of exactly those people who know so little about teaching that they cannot survive in a classroom and thusly continue to invest in exactly the opposite things to what children need to learn. These people need less money, not more. All that is needed is for the teachers and students to be given more options as to where to go.

How does this aid in education (5, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | about 4 years ago | (#34034780)

What I would like to know. How does this technology aid in education... Yes the student can access some information faster, and do some research, or if your books were ebook they can search for terms faster, so they are not flipping pages while there is a lecture... But does this justify the cost. I don't think so. I am a big fan of technology, I used computers when I was a kid to improve my education. But I am a rare case, I am a geek, I dug in and wanted to figure it out. For most students it will just be more of an internet based distraction.

Re:How does this aid in education (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34034814)

I suspect it means the primary (intended) devices will continue to work with all the iPhones cruising campus.

Re:How does this aid in education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34035210)

The obvious solution if that's the case would be to not give the kids the WiFi pass key, just enter it for them in their laptop (primary device) and their iPhones will have to use the data connection. I suspect upgrading the infrastructure to handle more WiFi capacity is probably the cheaper option, though - you only have to do it once, then you're just paying a slightly higher bandwidth fee, if you go the other route that's a massive ongoing manual job (you'd have to enter all the fresh keys every year, then as people got new laptops or had to restore their systems, through the year too).

Re:How does this aid in education (1)

JockTroll (996521) | about 4 years ago | (#34035220)

Loserboy nerd, if they enter the WiFi passkey in the laptop, it's childplay to extract it.

Re:How does this aid in education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34035352)

It's really rather easy -

The kids all have usernames and passwords on the school network

Set up a RADIUS server hooked in to your LDAP, Active Directory, NIS, whatever you want to use

Set up the Wireless Access Points to use RADIUS, but ONLY LET THAT USER LOG ON ONCE AT ONE TIME. So they can use the wireless on their iphone if they like, or they can use their laptop, but not both.

= Zero administration, secure network, with a managed number of devices.

Re:How does this aid in education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34035812)

Yea, because there's zero administration in running a RADIUS server for a few hundred children.

Re:How does this aid in education (4, Funny)

ffreeloader (1105115) | about 4 years ago | (#34035832)

Yeah, this having two wireless devices is a huge problem. Like most kids, although I'm an old man, I'm a major bandwidth hog because I have multiple devices.

I simultaneously surf with both hands while at home or while using a public hotspot such as the public library. With my right hand I download files to my laptop while browsing /., and with my left I browse Groklaw on my Droid while downloading music to it. Furthermore, I speed read /. with my left eye and Groklaw with my right at the same time. If I had a third hand I'd simultaneously download and read ebooks on my iPad with my butt so I could use even more bandwidth.

Re:How does this aid in education (4, Informative)

cappp (1822388) | about 4 years ago | (#34034840)

Thing is, there's plenty of evidance that the wired-classroom really isn't all that great. Back in 2007 the NYTimes [nytimes.com] did a report on schools phasing computers back out of the classroom

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

A research paper [nber.org] noted that

we also demonstrate that the introduction of home computer technology is associated with modest but statistically significant and persistent negative impacts on student math and reading test scores. Further evidence suggests that providing universal access to home computers and high-speed internet access would broaden, rather than narrow, math and reading achievement gaps.

A further NYTimes article [nytimes.com] noted that

Ofer Malamud, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Chicago, is the co-author of a study that investigated educational outcomes after low-income families received vouchers to help them buy computers. “We found a negative effect on academic achievement,” he said. “I was surprised, but as we presented our findings at various seminars, people in the audience said they weren’t surprised, given their own experiences with their school-age children.”

Professors are also banning laptops [washingtonpost.com] from their classes. All in all there doesn't seem to be any actual evidance that kids benefit from the use of laptops et al in class. That's not saying they don't benefit from the use of technology in the learning process, but the use of individual laptops and Ipads and all that has so far been shown to be somewhat counter-productive.

Re:How does this aid in education (1)

xnpu (963139) | about 4 years ago | (#34034900)

This is largely because tests are still designed for non-wired classrooms.

Math and physics don't require a computer? True, until you get an actual job that is.

Re:How does this aid in education (3, Insightful)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 4 years ago | (#34035042)

In the classroom there is no room for computers for studying physics or maths. Leave those to the workplace (and then likely only the workplace of university or higher educated people). E-textbooks may be an exception, but those are a mere replacement of paper books.

Before you can use said computer you will have to understand the underlying math and physics. You still have to understand the laws of physics, and how to solve an integral. Without that knowledge computers are useless, and probably only get in the way of the actual understanding of what's going on.

The second step is indeed doing physics simulations and mathematical simulations, that is where the computers come in: but only in the second part, the simulation part. The result of a simulation is only as good as the input - if the researcher doesn't understand what they are doing then they can never make a good simulation.

Not to mention that even if the computers come to the classroom (simple simulations can be illustrative), the software used and taught to the students will be outdated at best by the time they get a job. If the job uses the same simulation package in the first place. This teaching how the software works thus becomes a waste of time.

Re:How does this aid in education (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34035346)

Some simple simulations can be fantastic aids. I remember when I was a kid writing a BASIC program on a BBC B to demonstrate longitudinal waves. A bunch of vertical lines, each moving horizontally as x_i = a * i + sin(t + b * i). The middle one was coloured differently to the rest. You could see the wave moving across the screen, and you could see that each "particle" stayed where it was. It showed what was going on much better than a Slinky.

Re:How does this aid in education (2, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 4 years ago | (#34035436)

40yrs ago when I started high school they told me boys were not allowed to learn how to type because only girls grew up to be typists. The typewritter is now dead and all but forgotten but the skill of touch typing would sure have come in handy over the last 20yrs as a developer.

Computers are a universal tool, keeping kids away from them makes as much sense as keeping kids away from crayons and paste.

Re:How does this aid in education (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 4 years ago | (#34035474)

I never said they should be kept away from computers, just that physics and maths classes are not the place to teach how to work with a computer, and computers do not really have a place there. That're classes where you have to learn how to do maths, and how to do physics, and the way to understand what that is, is not done inside of some physics or maths simulation software.

Even calculators have don't have a place in maths classes, they are however very useful for physics, and maybe applied maths, where actual calculations are done. But most maths classes there is not even place for a calculator, as a lot of maths is not about numbers. And the parts that are about numbers are where students learn how to calculate without the use of a calculator.

Computer lessons are important too - but they belong in computer classes. Where people learn about the computer. Hopefully also the basics about hardware (what is a processor doing, what is memory for, just the basics), but also typing lessons (for some reason touch typing classes have all but disappeared, as if it's irrelevant nowadays), word processing, whatever.

Re:How does this aid in education (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34035748)

Even calculators have don't have a place in maths classes, they are however very useful for physics, and maybe applied maths, where actual calculations are done. But most maths classes there is not even place for a calculator, as a lot of maths is not about numbers.

If by "most math classes" you mean "most math classes by your third year as a math major in college," then yes. Otherwise, no. And, honestly, when you're learning to do stuff like derivatives the long way (f'(x) = lim h->0 [(f(x+h)-f(x))/h]), among various other operations that contain numbers but can easily fill a page, having a four-function or scientific calculator is nice. That way, you're testing if the student understands the concept, not their ability to not make a single basic arithmetic mistake among hundreds of calculations, especially if you're throwing them curveballs. (My calc teacher had us doing derivatives with multiple terms in the numerator and denominator that looked like (132.4x^8-10.7x^1.6)^(1/3).)

I never said they should be kept away from computers, just that physics and maths classes are not the place to teach how to work with a computer, and computers do not really have a place there. That're classes where you have to learn how to do maths, and how to do physics, and the way to understand what that is, is not done inside of some physics or maths simulation software.

And that's the common misconception, and it's where tablet computers can come into play. You absolutely cannot type math equations into Word or whatever fast enough to take notes. But on a tablet that has a pen, you can certainly write fast enough. That's how I took the vast majority of my notes all through college as a math/mechanical engineering double major. It was fantastic. Outside of computers, I'm a very disorganized person. When I took notes in a notebook back in high school, inevitably, halfway through the class, the notebook would be in terrible condition, pages would be falling out, and I'd lose exactly the pages I'd need for whatever I was doing. With a computer? Not a problem.

Now, did it distract me sometimes, with access to the internet and all of that? Yeah, it did. Would I have been paying attention if I had just a notebook in front of me? Probably not. I'd probably be doodling in the corners, turning words and such into silly math equations (dBatman/dx = Bruce Wayne), and planning for upcoming D&D sessions. But as far as helping me to stay organized and to still have easy access to all my notes by the end of the year, it was amazing.

And as one more point, people have different learning styles. Sure, for you and I, maybe the traditional model is fine. But I know several quite smart people who have a terrible time absorbing math/physics/whatever knowledge unless they understand what it's for. And computer simulations showing "See how we can use this differential equation to model flow through a pipe? Knowing how to work these equations is what allows engineers to design fluid systems to very tight specifications" can help them immensely. And as much as that can be done with a single, teacher/professor run computer, to be able to have that right in front of you to fiddle with on your own and explore that parts that you're curious about is an invaluable tool.

As a final thought, though, two computers per student is stupid and a waste of money. I have no idea what anyone could gain from that.

Re:How does this aid in education (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 4 years ago | (#34035954)

My daughter was introduced to basic concept of algebra via a spreadsheet back in the 90's, it was the teacher's own method and personally I thought it was very effective.

I wasn't taught to use computers or calculators at school. I was however taught to use log tables and slide rules.

Re:How does this aid in education (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about 4 years ago | (#34035756)

yeh I know as i was a dyslexic back in the 70s the school sugested I do typing CSE which I rejected as a "girls" subject - i am sure id be a better typist today if I had taken that.

Re:How does this aid in education (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 4 years ago | (#34035862)

We were literally not allowed to take typing or cooking classes, girls were not allowed to take woodwork or mechanical drawing classes. Boys and girls were not allowed to sit at the same desk and there were sexually segregated play areas. boys had cricket nets, girls had netball courts, etc, etc

Re:How does this aid in education (1)

c6gunner (950153) | about 4 years ago | (#34036424)

And then Germany invaded Poland, and everything changed ...

No "help", no fun, only cram (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34035914)

Computers could be used as excellent teaching tools. However, just like classrooms and textbooks, they should be filled with relevant content only, devoid of distractions. Clearly, general purpose computer systems for average home or business user are not appropriate for that. Along with series of restrictions regarding what can be installed or saved on them and what they should be allowed to connect with, there should be a high and thick (and with deeply buried foundations... OK, I am forcing it a little) wall of incompatibility, rebuilt regularly as young aspiring hackers tear old ones down, to slow down "ubiquitous computing" from creeping into these special purpose "educational assistants". If there is a need for student to do a research on Internet at large, that should be done from some other device and their "school computer" should not be able to download or input anything directly, at least not without watermarking the clip of text or picture as a citation or a quote. Lazybugs and copycats would be forced to, at the very least, retype their Internet-obtained essays.

Simulations should be used just as cheaper alternatives to demonstrations, or for self-evaluation of the results of exercises. Teaching students how to use production software should not be the goal in itself (nor is it ethical thing to do!)

Re:How does this aid in education (1)

melikamp (631205) | about 4 years ago | (#34036086)

I disagree pretty much completely. A laptop or a smartphone is not a mere calculator, it's a personal mind extension. I feel good about making this prediction: most of these kids with laptops in class will go through the rest of their life with a general-purpose computer in their pocket. Let them use it however they want. If they get distracted by them, they simply won't learn and fail as they should. I would even allow computers during testing, as long as I can isolate them from Internet. We don't need to be oppressive: I think this problem can be mostly solved by redesigning the testing procedures.

Re:How does this aid in education (1)

Maitri (938818) | about 4 years ago | (#34036372)

I think that you couldn't be more wrong - at least at the point where kids get taught physics as a separate class (generally at the high school level). Especially since you seem to think all computers can do is simulations. There are three main types of learners - folks who need to see stuff, folks who need to hear stuff, and folks that need to do stuff in order to really grasp a topic. Having computers in your classrooms can really help visual and kinesthetic learners.

I have a hard time visualizing 3D math based problems. I think that if some of the SAS software that is available today had been available when I was taking calculus I wouldn't have had nearly the problems imaging rotating formulas around an axis. About the only physics I was able to grasp were ones where we had done real life experiments like putting together race cars as a team and then using computers with peripherals that tracked velocity and speed and such. Even in less math based classes like chemistry we used temperature probes that plugged into computers and then we did all sorts of manipulation of the data. I got then when an exothermic reaction was. I might not have been using exactly the same equipment I would a year or two later in college but I have to say I was still ahead of the curve and wasn't at all intimidated by the equipment we did use. Then a couple of years later on the job the same was true again. (And some of the equipment hasn't changed that much, for instance pH meters and DO probes are still fairly similar to how they were 15 years ago or so when I used them in class.) When it came time to looking at an excel spread with thousands of data points that needed to be manipulated, I was finishing early and helping classmates in my physics labs. Granted I was lucky enough to be at a great high school (shout out here to all the Roanoke Valley Govenerds - I know there must be some of you on here) where the computers were truly integrated into the lessons for data gathering, manipulations, etc., but learning theory through experience can be really important for some types of learners - like me.

With how the fields of science and math are now, what you are saying is analogous to telling computer and programming teachers that they should teach theory only until programmers try to get jobs because the in vogue programming language of the day changes so quickly and those pesky computers are just going to get in the way of learning the theory. I'm not a programmer but even so I can only imagine what my boss would have said if I told him I hadn't used any of the software before coming to work here (I suspect I wouldn't have gotten hired and that he wouldn't be my boss right now).

Re:How does this aid in education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34036410)

You still have to understand the laws of physics, and how to solve an integral. Without that knowledge computers are useless, and probably only get in the way of the actual understanding of what's going on.

Wow fuck off.

Re:How does this aid in education (1)

drsmithy (35869) | about 4 years ago | (#34035100)

Math and physics don't require a computer? True, until you get an actual job that is.

What "Math and Physics" job [that requires a computer] do you think a 17 year old is going to get straight out of High School ?

Re:How does this aid in education (1)

bored_engineer (951004) | about 4 years ago | (#34035276)

In (my) engineering world, if you need the highly complex models that programmers can provide (such as a collision model) then you need much more mathematics than primary and secondary schools can provide, in order to understand the work you're doing.

It seems that teachers continually try to meld computers into homework and into the school day, but I fail to see where anything but formatting in the finished product is improved. More frankly, I've not yet seen any work (5th grade, so far) that would require anything more complex than a typewriter, a library and a dictionary. While they can be provided more efficiently today, there's nothing about a modern primary or secondary education that changes 2+2, or f(x)/(1+x)dx. My opinion (though perhaps faulty) remains that computers aren't needed for most primary and secondary education.

All of that said, my oldest is writing his most recent book report with Lyx, and I expect to buy soon, barring a veto by my spouse, a mindstorms robotic kit for my youngest. (The kid is wicked smart; takes after his lovely mother more than his stunted dad [me].)

Re:How does this aid in education (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34035886)

Well, since the U.S. is becoming a service economy, maybe we should put a grill and a fryer in every classroom so students can be taught how to flip hamburgers and cook fries. They really don't need them, until they get a job, that is.

Re:How does this aid in education (3, Interesting)

adolf (21054) | about 4 years ago | (#34035008)

I'm not a kid. I'm not going to school. I won't be going to school. I haven't seen a classroom proper in 17 years.

But I was a kid once; an atypical kid like many here on Slashdot, but a kid nonetheless. I remember being a kid.

And as a kid, I had real problems in school. I hated duplication of effort. I was terrible and slow at writing. I used to be admonished by my teachers:

"You can't use a computer to do that work."

"But are my answers correct?"

"Well yes, they are. But you can't rely on a computer, because when there's a problem to solve, there won't always be a computer around to help you figure it out."

Which, of course, was bullshit. Not long after I gave up on school altogether, computers were crawling out of the woodwork. By the time I became an adult and started making real money doing real things for real people, they were ubiquitous.

Nowadays, I carry a computer in my pants pocket that does things which were unimaginable when I was a kid. I use it all the time. And I keep a laptop nearby. These are tools that I use to help me in my professional career, which involves solving real problems in the real world.

Keeping computers out of a classroom is the same as depriving a mechanic the use of a wrench while insisting that they figure out some more archaic fashion in which to adjust a bolt. It's a useful tool now, it will continue to be useful later, and kids might as well familiarize themselves with using the tools available to them to solve problems as early as possible.

Re:How does this aid in education (1)

cappp (1822388) | about 4 years ago | (#34035088)

Which is a great point - the articles mentioned that computer literacy certainly increased in the students but at the cost of other academic areas. It's a complicated question and a lot of the decline can probably be linked to unfamiliarity - teachers being unsure of how to include the systems in their lessons, poor parental involvement, a lack of guidelines for use, and inappropriate inclusion. Unfortunately there's no data to support that inference.

Re:How does this aid in education (1)

Fjandr (66656) | about 4 years ago | (#34035196)

Just like any other tool, students should be taught how to use them and allowed to use them where appropriate. When learning the mechanics of things, there are good examples of situations where computers do more harm than good. If an assignment can be completed without an ounce of effort to understand it, simply by relying on technology, allowing technology is undermining the entire point of education. Many, if not most, students will do the absolute minimum required unless they have good reason to do otherwise. Students who pursue knowledge for its' own sake are rare. Children are typically intellectually lazy unless they have had a love of learning instilled in them by their parents, or are one of the extraordinary rarities where those qualities occur absent any articulable outside influence.

So yes, there are numerous examples of places where a ban on technology is idiotic. There are also numerous examples of places where the allowance of the use of technology is equally idiotic. The issue isn't black-or-white.

Re:How does this aid in education (2, Interesting)

c0lo (1497653) | about 4 years ago | (#34035336)

Children are typically intellectually lazy

On the contrary, kids are the biggest learners. They become intellectually lazy because how the schooling is organized - no education, but taming^H^H^H^H^H training (be good, fit in standards, otherwise will feed you with Ritalin... later, after being promoted with your batch, you'll be a great fool^H^H^H tool for the society).
There's somebody [wikipedia.org] else saying it better [rsablogs.org.uk] than me.

Re:How does this aid in education (1)

Noughmad (1044096) | about 4 years ago | (#34035660)

Perfectly correct, and thanks for the links.

Re:How does this aid in education (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 4 years ago | (#34035994)

The problem is a teacher that doesn't know what they're doing, not that you were correct in your solution. In your case, the computer is a great tool to help you solve problems, but it's also a crutch, and if leaned on too heavily, will result in your failure to actually learn the lesson. Which you'll need later if you want to make the computer really do some interesting things for you.

Recall the parable of the butterfly [google.com]

Re:How does this aid in education (1)

Netshroud (1856624) | about 4 years ago | (#34035036)

A technology-centric education requires a different teaching approach. Simply adding technology into the mix of the current approach is bound to fail.

How was tech used? (1)

xzvf (924443) | about 4 years ago | (#34035482)

The problem isn't the technology, it is how technology is used in education. We've replaced blackboards with white boards with overhead projectors with presentation projectors with smart boards.... all to do the same task. Replacing textbooks and typewriters/word processors with tablets that can do a lot of fun stuff in addition to being books and writing tools is a distraction. Changing the way we teach using technology, but introducing differentiated pacing of classwork (allowing students to be diverse while learning at their own pace), separating classroom management from learning, using on line classes to allow unique classes in every school, creating lifelong learning portfolios, tracking progress in real time, immediate remediation when trouble occurs, freeing teachers for more one on one time, etc.... Technology will fail if you throw it over the wall, but using it to change the way we teach has potential to break us out of the failed system we have now.

Re:How does this aid in education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34035530)

Thing is, there's plenty of evidance that the wired-classroom really isn't all that great.

Poor spelling and grammar are part of the "evidance"?

Re:How does this aid in education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34035640)

Hmm? Sorry, I was playing farmville online. You were saying that technology was the best learning tool ever?

Re:How does this aid in education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34035682)

"the introduction of home computer technology is associated with modest but statistically significant and persistent negative impacts on student math and reading test scores."

I suspect a similar thing may have happened back when the television was becoming commonplace. Give students something that's actually fun, like TV or games, and they'll be suddenly spending a lot less time revising.

It depends on how you define "student achievement" (2, Interesting)

voss (52565) | about 4 years ago | (#34035764)

The idea that student achievement can be defined by standardized tests that themselves test rote learning
not critical thinking is kinda silly. Giving a child 21st century technology to do 19th century work is pointless.
However if there is an integrated technology-oriented curriculum and testing to observe THOSE objectives
then the results might be very different.

Re:How does this aid in education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34034856)

TCO has the potential to be lower with tablets than textbooks (especially at private schools where they are less likely to be destroyed). We are probably not there yet, but someone has to be the early adopter. Some nice uses of technology are having homework assignments posted online, saving a (admittedly small) amount of instruction time. The ability to easily revise papers is also a big plus with technology. Stuff from the last 5 years is probably not what makes tech great for education. It is the stuff from 15-20 years ago that is finally mature enough and the faculty is comfortable enough to easily incorporate that ill make the difference.

Re:How does this aid in education (2, Insightful)

xnpu (963139) | about 4 years ago | (#34034860)

It's not that every student has to use 2 devices. It's about making sure the network has sufficient capacity. You don't want to run into situations where a student cannot log on to the network and participate in his class, because some other guy decided to walk around with 2 phones instead of one. Dealing with capacity issues during class, THAT would be a distraction and a waste of time/money. Upgrading the WiFi network is, relatively speaking, a cheap way to avoid technology from becoming a real disruption.

Needless to say, the teachers can still limit/control technology use in their classroom as they see fit, but they can't control the guy in the other class from having the wifi-enabled phones in his pocket and taking away the network capacity they needed for class.

In particular a laptop and a tablet (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 4 years ago | (#34034866)

That just smacks of trendy bullshit without good thinking behind it. I understand OWNING both, sort of. I can understand that maybe there are situations where you want somethign that boots faster than a laptop or is easier to carry or whatever. But how the hell does one person reasonably use both at once? Yes, yes, I can think of contrived situations, I mean how is it useful, in particular to education?

I also have to agree about the distraction thing. I don't think computers for their own sake are a good thing. Computers, particularly ones on the Internet, are wonderful little distractions. As such you should only be using a computer when there's a need. If students are doing a lab where they are using a word processor, or programming, or something well of course they should be on computers. However if they are in English class discussing a novel they read? No, the computers will just be distractions.

This is even true of adults, much less students. I've had the occasion to video tape some special lectures for the department I work at recently and this means I'm in the back of the room, watching everyone. Everyone in the room was an adult, many were over 30 and had "PhD" behind their name. Some brought laptops. All who did, fooled around on them and didn't give it their full attention. Nobody took notes (no need, I was laying it down to tape), they all surfed and goofed off. Fine, they are adults it was their time to waste and this was purely optional. However to presume that young kids would do any better is stupid, particularly when it may be something they aren't so interested in.

Students should do plenty on computers, learning how to use them is an important part of modern life. However they should be off them when whatever they are doing doesn't involve a computer. Less distraction.

And two devices? Give me a break.

Re:In particular a laptop and a tablet (1)

xnpu (963139) | about 4 years ago | (#34034914)

You don't need to do anything do use both. Even if they're in your pocket, both devices could be calling home on the WiFi network every now and then.

2 devices is not overkill. Every modern phone these days has WiFI, which leaves you with just 1 more to carry, which could be a laptop or a pad, not necessarily both.

Re:In particular a laptop and a tablet (1)

delinear (991444) | about 4 years ago | (#34035280)

Not to mention one of the devices might be provided by the school and be pretty locked down in what it can do, the other might then be a personal device that the student carries because they have more freedom (to install their own apps, etc - I've experienced this in the commercial world before, having a work-approved laptop that I had to use to access internal systems but which wouldn't allow me to install any of the development tools I need to do my job, therefore having to also carry my own personal laptop with me in order to be productive). Alternatively, the laptops might be tied to particular classrooms (we probably shouldn't assume just because they're laptops that the kids are allowed to take them away, they might just be laptops because it's far easier to manage when you need to clear the classroom for some other activity) rather than carried around by students meaning the students need another device if they want to access anything when they're not in class. There are all kinds of reasons why it's not unreasonable to assume more than one device per child.

Re:In particular a laptop and a tablet (1)

icebraining (1313345) | about 4 years ago | (#34034966)

Schools don't involve only classes, you have breaks too, And excuse me if I like to make a call from my VoIP enabled phone and not lose my laptop's connection.

Re:In particular a laptop and a tablet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34035076)

That just smacks of trendy bullshit without good thinking behind it. I understand OWNING both, sort of. I can understand that maybe there are situations where you want somethign that boots faster than a laptop or is easier to carry or whatever. But how the hell does one person reasonably use both at once? Yes, yes, I can think of contrived situations, I mean how is it useful, in particular to education?

If you have only one screen, you'll find yourself constantly alt-tabbing. Maybe they use tablet for reading a textbook, laptop to write stuff.

Re:How does this aid in education (1)

opposabledumbs (1434215) | about 4 years ago | (#34034946)

Think about it less in terms of "How are we using this to help the students learn?" and more in terms of "How do I get a webcam in every student's bedroom?"

As recent forays into, and furores over, how this kind of tech is used in schools have demonstrated, teachers don't seem to be terribly good with handling these devices when they're in the hands of a student group.

Re:How does this aid in education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34036158)

Tell me, Pedobear: How do you type so well with those big paws?

Re:How does this aid in education (1)

princee (463254) | about 4 years ago | (#34034970)

It doesn't aid thier education at all. The kids spend more time working out how to use the device than actually doing work and then they use it for purposes other than school work. My daughter through her school has a macbook and I think the main function it is used for is sharing pictures, movies and songs and not actual school work.

I went to a big presentation at the school last year on the introduction of laptops and none of the staff that were involved in the decision process even had a clue, including the so called IT staff. They talked about new means of communications, facebook, msn, twitter, sms etc but really had no idea what relevance or meaning this had to education. I believe this is just more evidance of the decline in the quality of education and how schools are letting are kids down. Rather than improving the quality of staff and concentrating on educating the kids they want a device to be a baby sitter so they can employ less staff. The funding of staff comes from school fees and the government and if the school puts up fees everyone complains but if they now add a new line to your invoice for $100 per term for a laptop or make parents buy them it's seen as being progressive.

Re:How does this aid in education (-1, Offtopic)

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Re:How does this aid in education (1)

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Re:How does this aid in education (1)

Bodrius (191265) | about 4 years ago | (#34035044)

Short answer is: we haven't figured out how to do this properly yet.

It took us a few hundred (or thousand?) years of experience with books to make them a constructive part of education, it looks like we'll need a few decades to internalize how to use the interwebs properly.

I have no doubt all this technology will help in education in the long term - the ability of the Internet to connect an individual to both knowledge and data is beyond Vannebar's wildest visions of Xanadu. Even in the most banal sense it is an improvement by raising the bar for often-sub-par educational books and material; consider also the potential for liberating the student for self-directed research and 'jumping ahead of the class' without disconnecting himself from, or derailing, the current lecture - currently we penalize our brightest students by forcing them to wait for the rest of the class to catch up. I'd have loved to have a laptop with web access in high school - then whenever that happened I could have researched tangents and connections from the current topic out of curiosity, instead of finding another opportunity to learn how to sleep with my eyes open. Books don't really scale very well in that way, by reasons of cost and plain physical mass.

But a completely undirected and unrestricted experience is the anti-thesis of education - as it's typically used it offers all the possible distractions without the guidance or focus to understand the necessary material. And as long as the 'learning generation' is a decade ahead of the 'teaching generation' it is bound to stay that way. I don't think it's even a matter of 'understanding computers' as the geek crowd tends to assume; at some point I thought that way, but these days I'm convinced things are moving fast enough that new generations 'get' these technologies fundamentally differently, so it is very naive to think 'we adults' can figure out how to best use tech for our children's education without being hopelessly irrelevant to their own experience unless things stabilize a bit.

It's not that the technologies are that different anymore, it's that the quantitative barriers go away very quickly and each generation cares about and prioritizes technology uses that at some point would have been shallow, or even risible (tweeter anyone?), with unexpected benefits and side-effects... even if we come up with a far more comprehensive and clueful plan to leverage tech in modern education, by the time it's implemented by any national educational system it will be as quaint and irrelevant as France's Minitel system is today.

One desktop per child? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34035058)

One thing I find interesting is that in all the comments I read below are talking about the internet. When I went to grade school last millenium, we had computers. We used Logo, we played math games, we had courses in typing. But we didn't have a connection to the internet (such as it was in 1990). Now, I remember in high school everybody got TI-85 calculators. Although they were just calculators, we managed to write and distribute games on them. So maybe the problem is personal machines.

Imagine for a moment that the computers were highly restricted and kept in the respective classrooms. So you can access your word processor in English class, your Physics simulations in Physics class, et cetera. With less access, there would be less issues with maintenance. If you kept people's data stored on a remote fileserver, repair becomes a simple act of cloning a machine. And, in my experience, desktops don't break as often as laptops. Have the actual towers stored in a closet and have only monitors and keyboards on desks, and you have even fewer bad experiences.

In summary, classes don't just give you facts, they also give you relevant facts. The internet is, well, mostly irrelevant. So a more focused use of technology might avoid the dark side of computers. Not to mention keep webcams out of bedrooms.

Education vs. Schooling (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | about 4 years ago | (#34035170)

What I would like to know. How does this technology aid in education... Yes the student can access some information faster, and do some research, or if your books were ebook they can search for terms faster, so they are not flipping pages while there is a lecture

By my (first tentative) definition, education is the pursuit of new knowledge and skills. It would seem that an internet connected device helps tremendously in the acquisition of knowledge, and in some skills (programming more so, lockpicking somewhat less so, in my limited experience).

Someone said that "learning happens when people do work at the limit of their ability on something that motivates them". When people are put into classrooms by force and told to study what the teacher has chosen for them, the motivation component tends to be missing. That might explain why people get distracted; but it also highlights why "forced education" is an oxymoron.

Education and schooling are not necessarily the same.

Re:How does this aid in education (1)

Genda (560240) | about 4 years ago | (#34035176)

Are you kidding? Have you seen the load of books kids are dragging to school these days? There is real concern that children are getting injured by carrying more book weight than is physically appropriate for them. Having the ability to carry an entire library in a tablet is a huge advance. Add to that, multimedia educational materials, interactive games and puzzles, team education and tools designed to teach kids how to collaborate in their problem solving... Photography, Videography, Computer Art, Music Composition, imagine the possibilities. There is so much these devices can support that you couldn't do any other way.

Anyone who's read Stevenson's "Diamond Age", see's that we are quick approaching a time when an inexpensive tablet can help a young person become virtually anything they can dream of. We simply need to create interactive tools that rise to the challenge of inspiring and enlightening our progeny.

Re:How does this aid in education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34035620)

Distance education would benefit greatly, especially in niche subjects. Imagine trying to get a class of 2 pupils in physics or french in a small country town - basically you cannot.

With a more connected school, the possibilities are endless in being able to deliver all sorts of previously unavailable classes to interested but isolated people. Australia has one of the lowest population densities on the planet, so it is little wonder that this will be useful.

Re:How does this aid in education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34035794)

What I would like to know. How does this technology aid in education...

I agree with other repliers in that it probably doesn't. At most it helps in that kids only have to carry one device with multiple ePubs instead of a bunch of heavy text books.

Re:How does this aid in education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34035804)

What I would like to know. How does this technology aid in education... Yes the student can access some information faster, and do some research, or if your books were ebook they can search for terms faster, so they are not flipping pages while there is a lecture... But does this justify the cost. I don't think so. I am a big fan of technology, I used computers when I was a kid to improve my education.

Not enough, apparently, as your grammar is pretty poor. Missing question marks, sentence fragments, etc. Sorry, but it's hard to ignore.

I'm waiting for Cliff's next book (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34036124)

"I was right, Bitches"....

What do we want? The Card Catalog.
When do we want it? Now!

Looks heavy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34034790)

Fortunately this won't tip the Earth too much since this extra weight will be in the southern hemisphere.

ADHD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34034798)

The makers of ritalin might take an extra hit of their own supply to celebrate this one.

But...why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34034830)

Why would anyone ever need to carry a laptop AND a tablet? My laptop does just about everything a tablet does and more, so what's the point? I can understand wanting a tablet so you don't have to carry a laptop around. I can even understand owning both a laptop and a tablet, but this school seems to be planning on everybody using their laptops and tablets simultaneously for some reason. After all, if each student only uses one or the other at any given moment, then their wireless network wouldn't need an upgrade. But what reason could a student have to be using both a tablet and a laptop at the same time?

So my big question is just...why?

Re:But...why? (1)

guyminuslife (1349809) | about 4 years ago | (#34034858)

We're talking about private schools. Maybe they need to justify tuition hikes.

Re:But...why? (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | about 4 years ago | (#34035080)

Why would anyone ever need to carry a laptop AND a tablet?

I would imagine that the tablet would get used mostly as an ebook reader so their can carry all their textbooks in one unit. Students will be handwriting less as they type all their work onto their computers, thus replacing their notebooks. It really doesn't seem that difficult to imagine that they would want to have their textbook and notebook on their desks at the same time.

If it wasn't useful to be able to see two displays at once, then we wouldn't have computers that support multiple monitors. This is just the same thing in a portable form.

I was initially against the idea of kids having to lug around laptop computers (especially the early adopter schools who did it before small netbooks). However, when I think back to my school days, and how heavy my bag was when I carried all my textbooks around then it seems that tablets and netbooks would be a much lighter alternative.

Huh? (-1, Redundant)

Dan East (318230) | about 4 years ago | (#34034842)

How would they be simultaneously consuming data on both devices at once, and even if they are, why would it be more data? Isn't the amount of data consumed user-dependent (ie, I have 3 computers on my desk, that doesn't mean I stream 3 movies at one time, or stream 3 songs at one time - the data I consume is exactly the same as if I had a single device).

I don't see why there is a need to upgrade the network.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34034870)

Because it is a wireless network and access points can only support so many connections. Bandwidth is not the issue here, it's the number of nodes.

Re:Huh? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34034884)

Well this whole "article" reads like a very thinly veiled press release for Meru Networks selling its access points.

Re:Huh? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about 4 years ago | (#34035364)

How would they be simultaneously consuming data on both devices at once...

It is called ADHD [wikipedia.org] ... (if you didn't get it, the post is meant to be sarcastic... Something closer to my opinion: starts approx 3'50" [rsablogs.org.uk] ).

Force the kids to make one ad-hoc device (1)

mykos (1627575) | about 4 years ago | (#34034882)

Cut costs in half and the kid learns something on the way.

Sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34034906)

The real sad thing is, private schools in Australia get more government funding than public schools...

I highly suspect the net educational gain for the countries children (and thus it's future) would be better if the money were spent on attempting to have both public and private schools with a OLPC program - than public schools with nothing, and private schools with a TLPC program...

This isn't about net gain though, private schools have 'god', better tax hikes, and more government funding due to their relative educational success over public schools (funding is granted to schools based on how well their students perform - worse school (in terms of academic performance of the children) = less money - public and private schools are in the same ranking list, and unsurprisingly private schools dominate the higher ranks of that list).

Gotta love our government!

Re:Sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34034930)

Ironically my typos in my message could have been avoided, if the public school I went to had better resources...

Damn my 'countries' government ;)

Re:Sigh (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 4 years ago | (#34034936)

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1392211/Garrett-stands-by-school-funding [sbs.com.au]
has the stats,
.."two-thirds of the education budget to private schools that educate one-third of the students, ...
has funding capped for students in government schools at $1000 per student, yet funding for students in private schools goes up to $7000 per student".
Australia has always been interested in new tech toys. The sad thing is we just use them as offered vs anything creative.
Will a tablet help kids, maybe , does it make the parents smile, yes.

Well Australians do carry the youth in pouches (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34034924)

Maybe the laptop is for the adult and the tablet for the kid in the pouch.

Tech doesn't have to be bad (1)

xnpu (963139) | about 4 years ago | (#34034968)

I walk around with 2 phones, and iPad and a laptop every day. In the business circles where I participate this is not exactly an exception.

If tech is not useful in certain classes, then just don't use it in THOSE classes. Hell, go ahead and block Facebook on the school network. But don't come up with this bull that tech in school is nothing more than a distraction. If anything, school should be teaching our kids more about how to use tech to our advantage in daily life.

Re:Tech doesn't have to be bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34035084)

You're a sad individual, but just tell me that it's NOT a MacBook, iPhone 3 & iPhone 4 !
There may still be hope for you if even ONE phone is an android !

No more homework? (1)

sosaited (1925622) | about 4 years ago | (#34034972)

So will this replace normal old-school lectures by professors? Or is this for helping students do their homework in schools? I can't imagine someone concentrating on a lecture by the teacher, which is the purpose of going to school anyway, when you have a laptop AND a tablet connected to internet. And please don't say this is only for in-between classes or breaks.

One possible reason I can think of that tablets with Internet access might be useful is watching some video/animation or using an interactive program aiding in the course. But former can be better done on a projector in the classroom, and latter is not an everyday task and should generally be given for home

So the only thing left then, is just a marketing and PR stunt of a sort. "We provide state-of-the-art IT infrastructure to help your child be one step ahead!"

OLPC? Come on... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34034986)

... we're talking a cashed up private school here.

Seems to me to be a little over the top: will the students be using both a tablet and laptop at once? One eye and one hand each?

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34035014)

There's one good thing about laptops in classes. Everyone will stay quiet during class when they can talk via irc :P

Re:Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34035150)

Hahaha IRC you crack me up. I'm serious here 3/4 of my compsci class don't know what irc is and would be using facebook and proxies (and cries when they get blocked).

A laptop AND a tablet? (2, Funny)

kurokame (1764228) | about 4 years ago | (#34035108)

Man, that strain on the wireless network infrastructure has to suck. If only someone could invent some sort of bizarre laptop-tablet...

Re:A laptop AND a tablet? (1)

Genda (560240) | about 4 years ago | (#34035194)

Actually, what we need is a tablet that's a wee bit larger, has full current PC power (or greater) has a touch screen with full multi-touch and gestural support (precluding the need for a mouse), a detachable keyboard, and a full set of interfaces. Then we only need one device.

Re:A laptop AND a tablet? (1)

mangu (126918) | about 4 years ago | (#34035578)

what we need is a tablet that's a wee bit larger, has full current PC power (or greater) has a touch screen with full multi-touch and gestural support (precluding the need for a mouse), a detachable keyboard, and a full set of interfaces

You know that what you just described is a desktop computer, right?

Re:A laptop AND a tablet? (1)

froggymana (1896008) | about 4 years ago | (#34036140)

Just carry a couple UPS's along with you for power, problem solved.

Re:A laptop AND a tablet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34035766)

Don't laugh it's been done:
a.k.a. Lenovo Ideapad u1 laptop.

www.pcworld.com/article/186105

Two to one (1)

shird (566377) | about 4 years ago | (#34035132)

But surely each student would generally only be using one device at a time?

I guess having two devices increases the odds of having one of them connected.

Dumbfounded comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34035252)

What a disgusting comparison between that affluent school district and the Third World.
ONE LAPTOP PER CHILD was never thought for a yuppie in mind.
And to criticize One Laptop per child as so yesterday is even stupider, as such machines can be updtated.

make 4 kids share 1, and they teach themselves (2, Interesting)

Phil Hands (2365) | about 4 years ago | (#34035288)

as proven by Sugata Mitra (of Hole in the Wall project fame), if you get rid of the teachers and provide one computer per 4 children, and let the kids collaborate, they teach one another

http://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_the_child_driven_education.html [ted.com]

The quote from Arthur C Clark is particularly telling: Any teacher that can be replaced by a computer should be replaced by a computer.

viva (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34035590)

Thanks for sharing such a wonderfull article ...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGszA07PqVs

Ugh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34035668)

Mom?!? Do I have to carry two devices? I mean, laptops are like algebra. No one actually uses them in the real world any more!

and when they graduate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34035900)

the students will be twice as dumb. great.

too much tech in the classroom is BAD for students.

Education (1)

prefec2 (875483) | about 4 years ago | (#34035956)

Education will not improve with the number of gadgets. It would be wiser to use better teaching methods. But well it is for private schools (=elite persons and those who would like to see their kids in this group). So why bother.

Sounds fair... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34036090)

Meanwhile, the public school my mother teaches at doesn't even have one laptop per student, and their network can barely handle the load as is.
Not that I'd trust high school kids with anything that expensive, personally; I can't imagine how much hair pulling must go on in the maintenance of those things.

Keep in mind that per student, private schools actually get more money from the government than government owned schools.
Think about that.

Fuck Everything, We're Doing Five (4, Funny)

dominious (1077089) | about 4 years ago | (#34036100)

Would someone tell me how this happened? We were the fucking vanguard of children's projects in this country. The OLPC was the project to own. Then the other guy came out with a Two Devices Per Child. Were we scared? Hell, no. Because we hit back with a little thing called the 2 Devices and an iPod Per Child. That's 2 devices and an iPod. For music. But you know what happened next? Shut up, I'm telling you what happened—the bastards went to four devices. Now we're standing around with our cocks in our hands, selling three devices and a strip. Music or no, suddenly we're the chumps.

Well, fuck it. We're going to five devices.

Re:Fuck Everything, We're Doing Five (1)

srussia (884021) | about 4 years ago | (#34036146)

Call it the Ipod, Desktop, Iphone, Olpc and Tablet project.

Ho Lee Fook! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34036576)

I'm sure glad I don't have to foot the bill for this extravagance!
I'm kind of tapped out after paying for two useless wars, multiple ineffective banking industry handouts, and propping up uncompetitive car companies. I certainly don't have anything left to pay to keep people healthy. Or do educate them.

In completely unrelated news... (2, Insightful)

SpectreBlofeld (886224) | about 4 years ago | (#34036278)

...prescriptions for ADHD medication among Australian high school students skyrocketed 400%.

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