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Ask Slashdot: Is E-Learning a Viable Option?

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the no-more-teachers-no-more-books dept.

Education 349

An anonymous reader writes "My spouse, who is an elementary school science teacher, has had some experience in e-learning, since her school gave iPads to all the students. She found that students used these devices, not for school purposes like note taking, but for gaming, etc. It got to the point that she banned them from her classroom. Do technology aids help, or hinder, education? Is the idea that students can be home-schooled electronically realistic, or absurd?"

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Like teacher, like student (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38494874)

Well from my experience with those electronic "white boards," they just distract the teacher as much as the students.

Automatic notetaking is nice (1, Interesting)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495092)

Especially since kids don't get textbooks anymore (thanks to Republican backed funding cuts). My kid often comes home with homework that I have no idea how to help with, because there's a particular answer / way of doing it they're using. More than once I've had my kid doing twice as much work solving a math problem because we did more than what the teacher wanted. With the white boards I started getting the teacher's notes, so I can see what the heck they actually want.

So yeah, in a properly funded school electronic whiteboards aren't needed. But in today's run down hell holes that we pass off as schools they're a life saver.

Re:Automatic notetaking is nice (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38495178)

"Especially since kids don't get textbooks anymore (thanks to Republican backed funding cuts)"


Get the government and unions out of education, and watch achievement return to what it was in the '50s and '60s.

Re:Automatic notetaking is nice (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38495266)

snicker snicker

Re:Automatic notetaking is nice (4, Insightful)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495296)

Actually, one could make a case that public education started its downward spiral as a result of the Women's Liberation movement. Not blaming, just saying that the system was built on bright capable women working at low wages in a field where their participation was acceptable. When the best and brightest noticed the greener pastures, and the system did not compensate by offering competitive wages and status, well, you see what we got.

Interesting... (3, Insightful)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495352)

taking that a step further, you can argue that the decline in middle class wages is a bigger part of that. Women can't afford to work for low wages as school teachers because their husbands no longer bring home enough money to maintain a middle class standard of living.

Re:Automatic notetaking is nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38495200)

Couldn't resist throwing in some unsubstantiated, politically motivated BS in there, eh?

I'm going to go with, eBay those iPads at $600/ea and buy all the books these kids could ever want.

Re:Like teacher, like student (5, Insightful)

daem0n1x (748565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495182)

If it ain't broken, don't fix it.

We seem to have done a pretty good job educating people in the last century or two. In most developed countries, most people are educated to the limits of human capacity.

All the innovative devices may have a role in education, but they should be considered carefully. Education systems are under attack right now. They're being pressured by the neoliberal shitheads to sharply lower costs and by corporations (usually the same guys) that want to make big money selling expensive toys to governments.

Blackboard and textbooks have worked for long, why such a rush to replace them? IMHO, the ability of a country to educate its population depends more in factors outside the school. like:

  1. how families value education
  2. how families stimulate critical thinking in kids
  3. if kids are well fed, safe, happy
  4. etc.

If a kid wants to learn and has a competent teacher, blackboard and textbook is more than enough.

NO. (4, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494880)

This question has been answered MANY times. NO study has shown that students benefit - and many have shown that the diversion of resources hurts them. It's a dead horse. Stop flogging it and move on.

Re:NO. (2, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494936)

Yes, indeed.

It also doesn't help that the discipline in schools is relaxing to an all-time low, and kids can wear hats and have cell phones and text and game all day and then tell their teachers to fuck off - and not a damn thing will happen to them once their parents threaten a lawsuit.

Re:NO. (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495080)

Yes, indeed.

It also doesn't help that the discipline in schools is relaxing to an all-time low, and kids can wear hats and have cell phones and text and game all day and then tell their teachers to fuck off - and not a damn thing will happen to them once their parents threaten a lawsuit.

Where I work we expel them. Can't have the nasty buggers spoiling the greatest gift people will receive in their lifetimes, because their parents know fuck-all about raising them.

Re:NO. (2)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495212)

That's why the technology is not the problem.

We could take this even further and imagine a complete MS Surface desk that allows full interactivity, test taking, etc. Something like out of Serenity.

The problem is the teachers. Without supervision a child is going to do what comes naturally to them, which is poor decision making. That's why they need supervision and guidance. Teachers walking around, giving a course lecture, asking questions, etc. is how real learning happens in a child's life. Real learning does not happen by multiple choice either, but critical thinking and actually evaluating not just retained knowledge, but knowledge that has been understood in context.

If you just hand them a piece of technology and tell them this is what will teach you and walk away you have to be pretty foolish to be surprised when you check in a couple hours later and they did not use it for that purpose.

Home schooled? That is completely absurd beyond all measure. ADULTS have problems telecommuting. I am a very disciplined person, but even I must admit that when working from home it is far easier for me to get distracted and take longer breaks. Being in an office environment with people walking in to my office, me walking around and checking in with people, I get more done myself.

You cannot expect a child to have a device, even totally locked down, and then use it in a disciplined fashion to educate themselves.

There is no magic answer, no magic pill, no magic technology that will allow adults to walk away from their children and then expect learning and growth.

You hit part of the problem too. Teachers being underpaid, not respected, and having their hands tied when it comes to discipline. Adding technology that can be abused without fixing that fundamental problem is stupid and wasteful at this point.

Re:NO. (4, Insightful)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495252)

Actually, the parents are responsible for preparing the child to learn. The teacher is there to teach, not to motivate crappy kids from disinterested parents.... I will not hold that job to a teacher. Thats like expecting the police to be patient and guide punk brats to be good lawful kids... No. The cop is there to enforce the law, and if he goes out of his way to help guife in a lesson, thats a bonus.

Re:NO. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38495378)

advantage of home-schooling is that you have 1 or 0.5 teachers per child (1 parent for 1 or 2 kids) and in school 1 kid has only 0.05 teachers (1 teacher for 20 kids or even less),

off course there is disadvantage-reason why it (home schooling) is not done ALWAYS

first it can be used only in first 7-11 year of schooling ( when you start learning some more specific things pre-university/university level you need someone with experience in specific subject like medicine/law/etc

second even for those first 11 years kid WILL have better education but kid will be
1.) less social and
2.) we as society will have 20% better educated kid with 10 times more resources (10 times more man/hours spent per kid) so it is question is it really worth it, you would have to have 10 people (parents) teaching kids instead 1 (teacher) teaching them all, and 9 working in factory making new-west Ford car or as police officers or whatever, it might be worth it getting 20% better educated kid with ten times more resources, but it is hard to know without better statistics (currently very small number of kids are home schooled, and even them are not that detailed compared to average kid

Re:NO. (2)

Praedon (707326) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494966)

Then you need to look at ECOT [ecotohio.org] .

Re:NO. (1, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495066)

You missed this part - their very first point:

One-on-one attention from 100% certified and highly qualified teachers.

That's not "e-learning".

Re:NO. (2, Insightful)

Praedon (707326) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495090)

You missed the entire point of ECOT all together, you didn't read how the vast majority of the time, the student is all on their own following the curriculum. Those with learning disabilities spend a little more time obviously with a teacher.

Re:NO. (-1, Flamebait)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495222)

Don't try to wiggle your way out of this one, bub - you got burned. Modded down. Grab your fucking ball and go home.

We don't need your swishy gadgets in our school system.

Re:NO. (2, Insightful)

Praedon (707326) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495260)

I think I remember now, why I marked you as a foe a long time ago. You have nothing insightful to say about anything. Nor do you have anything intelligent or constructive to add to any conversation. If you would of read my post, you would realize it's about electronic home-schooling and not "swishy gadgets" in the school system. Self-modded down for troll and fail.

Re:NO. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38495166)

Why don't you give us some evidence that e-learning does NOT work? So far we have anecdotal evidence that students use their iPads for playing games. And yet I can remember when I went to school, children used their tree-based text books to doodle.

On a personal level, I have found that independent study was much better than sitting in a class room listening to an overpaid teacher trans-code their textbooks into a lecture. Of course independent study isn't e-learning either, but traditional learning only ensures that people with educated, middle to upper middle class parents thrive at class.

I'd like to see some actual evidence that e-learning does NOT work instead of Trolls like Ethanol-Fueled who think that kids today are spoiled (do you remember ever hearing THAT ONE before?).

Re:NO. (4, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495058)

If you mean recent studies on iPads, yes, but there was some successful use of computers in the classroom in the 80s. Of course, it also depends on what you care about. Using Logo increased procedural literacy [bogost.com] , but whether Number Munchers increased mathematical literacy is more questionable. Iirc, the most positive effects generally came around long-term motivation rather than short-term imparting of facts; stuff like an oil-drilling simulation or Logo could help get kids interested in technology.

Re:NO. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38495300)

And where is today's LOGO equivalent for young kids to get into elementary programming? Pick any language and look how much background knowledge you need to have to merely create a trivial program to put a pixel on a screen and draw a few lines.

Re:NO. (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495062)

Only works when the student has the aptitude for it. There are students who do better in the classroom with interaction with the teacher. Can't expect same results for the whole population.

Re:NO. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38495172)

Expecting the same results for the whole population is the fundamental core driving force behind American society. Everyone has to learn the same things, the same way. Everyone has to have the exact same work rules, no matter if they make sense for a given job or not. Everyone is subject to the same zero-tolerance discipline, at work or at school, without regard for their past record or even the circumstances of whatever it is. Confirmity and uniformity rules the world, and if you don't fit in there's obviously something wrong with YOU and not this idiotic mind-numbing "society" we live in.

Re:NO. (1)

wwphx (225607) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495104)

Clif Stoll, author of The Cuckoo's Egg, wrote a book called Silicon Snakeoil about the over-promise of computers and their failure to deliver. He had a teacher friend, I don't remember what grade of elementary school was involved. Every year the teacher would split the room in to two groups to do a report on the same subject. One group used the library, the other group whatever they could use online. The library group, year after year, produced the better quality report.

Problem is, the book is rather dated now and I don't think Stoll has done an update, so I don't know if this little experiment is still trending that way.

Re:NO. (1)

Wovel (964431) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495116)

How would you like to be refuted? Government or University research? Do you prefer research from public or private universities? US, Canda, or even Europe for fun?

You should really watch extremist statements. They bury your point (the question over scarce resources may be valid) under a pile of your own nonsense.

Re:NO. (1)

supercrisp (936036) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495396)

Let's see the refutation. I'm in education and constantly am on the lookout for information on this topic. I've yet to see any studies demonstrating lasting benefits. But this isn't my particular field, so, despite my intense interest, I don't have time to do thorough research. So, if you know something, let's see it. It would do me a world of good.

Re:NO. (1)

sootman (158191) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495346)

There is no single answer. Many things work well for some people and not for others. And as with many things in education, it is NOT the tool (laptop/iPad/smart board/fancy new books) but the teachers and the structure that makes the difference. Bad teachers = no learning. Good teachers, hamstrung by a bad system = no learning. I know some people who have done horribly with nontraditional education and some people who have thrived.

That said, this guy has had great successes with iPad deployments. [speirs.org]

Not really, no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38494894)

It's very easy in PR and political terms to throw hardware at the problem. Providing teachers the time and expertise to integrate the technology into the lessons is much harder. The only cases of this I've seen work are when the demand for tech comes bottom-up; from the teachers.

Control the devices (1)

CFBMoo1 (157453) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494900)

Lock them down, you need to assert control over school electronic property. This should go beyond what walled gardens like Apple does and if Apple can't provide that kind of control to individual institutions then you need to look to other tools instead of iPads and such. Just because a student can take it home doesn't mean the student should have complete control of the device since it's still school property.

Re:Control the devices (0)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494908)

How come every I.T. manager turns into a fascist?

Re:Control the devices (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494946)

How come every I.T. manager turns into a fascist?

Its just a reflection of our fascist culture. It shows up well in policies for control of electronic devices; more so than, say, a pool lifeguard or a bartender, but its in there, if it could only break thru its shelf and get out like it does for IT managers.

Re:Control the devices (1)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494952)

Pain avoidance. It's challenging to be constantly faced with self-inflicted problems on the part of the users, and not want to restrict them until they can't do any damage.

(We dealt with this by auditing everything, and all "Delete" buttons actually just hide the entity in question :) )

Re:Control the devices (1, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494976)

How come every I.T. manager turns into a fascist?

How come everyone who's never been responsible for the consequences of not having a handle on those issues is so unable to use the word "fascist" correctly? Red lights in traffic are fascist! Banks that won't cash your checks when you have nothing in your account are fascist! Dogs that bark at squirrels are fascists! Government agencies that provide books to students for their education, but then discipline the students for tearing out the pages in order to make paper airplanes are fascists! Teachers that expect their students to pay attention in class: total fascists!

Re:Control the devices (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495184)

Agreed on all but the dogs who bark at squirrels. Anyone who has spent time interviewing such dogs about their political ideologies will have discovered the truth of that.

Re:Control the devices (2)

CFBMoo1 (157453) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495012)

Before my university instituted a software lock down kit and group policies on their Windows machines we had a major problem keeping computers running software wise because students would stick all kinds of junk on lab PCs. Once our plan was put in to effect the devices were used more for what they were intended. The lesson is no different for devices like the iPad if it's school property. Lock it down or deal with the consequences.

Re:Control the devices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38495026)

Why are you still plugged into the matrix?

Re:Control the devices (0)

Dragon Bait (997809) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495064)

How come every I.T. manager turns into a fascist?

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. There's usually a perfectly rationale explanation for fascism which always boils down to "I know better than you do." Ultimately the same reason that most politicians want to tell you how to lead your life.

If I, as the IT guy, am responsible for the network, anti-virus, updates, etc., I don't want you installing an app that may be a new virus attack vector and seek to restrict your ability to add apps. If I'm a socially conservative politician, I don't want you killing your unborn kids and seek to restrict abortion. If I'm a progressive politician, I don't want you killing yourself or your kids with second hand smoke and seek to restrict smoking.

Re:Control the devices (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495180)

Because they can? Absolute power (root / Domain Admin) corrupts absolutely.

On a more sensible note, amateur users cause problems with their computers, and IT aren't given enough resources to deal with that, so they turn into lockdown nazis. Unfortunately, this nullifies the main advantage that a computer has - that it's a tremendous general-purpose tool that can be reconfigured to work in the way that's most efficient and helpful for each user.

The root of the problem is that people don't know enough to get their computer where it needs to be to make it work better for them, without taking one or more fatal missteps along the way. Most of us will have spent many hours, and made our own fatal mistakes, gaining this skill.

Perhaps the answer is to hire people to specifically be "superusers" and help other users in a positive way with their computer, instead of only hiring people who's job it is to react to the negative. Somewhere between a software developer and a normal user.

Re:Control the devices (1)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494974)

It's not exactly hard to have some fun with school IT nowadays.

During my niece's graduation year their classroom was upgraded with modern computers. Wanna guess how long it took for them to discover that the classroom's web filter didn't apply to systems with an IP above 255 in the respective subnet?

Re:Control the devices (1)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494994)

Correction: above 200

I really shouldn't be configuring routers while I'm posting on /.

Re:Control the devices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38495070)

i don't see the problem with that they learned some valuable it skills figureing that out :3

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38494912)

There's no evidence e-learning is beneficial.

Anecdotal evidence has shown me that e-learning is a huge hindrance with anything related to math.

Hinder (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38494920)

Technology breaks concentration because it offers a variety of distractions in one small, portable package. There is not much else you can do with paper, pencil, and a Maths textbook than study.

Re:Hinder (1)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495248)

Technology breaks concentration because it offers a variety of distractions in one small, portable package. There is not much else you can do with paper, pencil, and a Maths textbook than study.

Currently in the second year of a distance-learning, Internet-centric, course, I agree entirely about the minimisation of distractions - this is absolutely critical (for me, at least). I don't agree that there's nothing one can do with a paper and pen but study, though - doodling, writing something else, making airplanes / blow darts and so on are all very easily done...

I'm not convinced (1)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494930)

Others claim to see improved student engagement with technology, and my feeling is that with enough resources you can get an improved experiences. I lean towards the opinion that for now the technology is not good value for money in terms of projects running now. On the other hand, now is a good time to be running small pilot projects in expectation that costs will come down, and software will improve.

Re:I'm not convinced (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495008)

You don't even need a lot of resources, you just need to utilize what you have effectively. Electronic aids are highly useful in most subjects, except for the most abstract ones, such as literature. Even in history, you can display a timeline of events, show tactical replays of battles, etc. When it comes to mathematics, the pros shine: projection allows the teacher to present a visual anchors for abstract concepts, such as functions and equations, so students can memorize methods much better.

Re:I'm not convinced (1)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495160)

Okay, so I'm focusing here on the iPad example given in the story, which is fairly clearly making use of technology they had to buy in...

Also, where does all this content come from? Are there rapid development tools that are suitable for most teachers to make this content with (in which case, please do tell me where!)? If not, are you suggesting an in-house content creation team (not too uncommon), or buying in external content (which is fairly thin on the ground still)?

Home Schooling depends on parents (3, Interesting)

Dragon Bait (997809) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494932)

I know 6 families that have home schooled with over half the kids now in college (other half still in high school). From my observations, electronics has very little impact or success or failure. Nearly all the success or failure is based on the parents: how serious they are about educating their kids, how connected they are with home school cooperatives, how much time their willing to invest. The complete failures that I've seen were easily predicable before the home schooling began (poorly educated parents, doing it for the wrong reasons, etc.)).

Re:Home Schooling depends on parents (1)

Wovel (964431) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495018)

I agree. However, like the classroom, electronics can aid any competent and motivated instructor.

Re:Home Schooling depends on parents (1)

zz5555 (998945) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495278)

All success in schooling (public, private, or home schooled) depends primarily on the parents involvement. I think there was a chapter in the Freakonomics book concerning this.

We used to play boxes on the grid paper (2, Insightful)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494942)

in our math class.

That didn't really say much about whether grid paper and pens were aiding or hindering our education.

It possibly does say something about the quality of the teacher...

Re:We used to play boxes on the grid paper (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495324)

There are things you can't easily learn without graph paper, and it's dirt cheap. There's nothing that you can't learn without an iPad, and they're expensive.

YES it is, and here's proof (2)

Praedon (707326) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494948)

My sister, when she lived in Ohio, had a learning disability. It wasn't until my family discovered ECOT [ecotohio.org] that she finally had the fighting chance to graduate. They sent her a locked down computer, and gave her all the help and support she needed over the phone for all her lessons. Electronic home-schooling should seriously be considered all over the United States.

Re:YES it is, and here's proof (3, Interesting)

morari (1080535) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495138)

Ohio has always been ahead of the game in terms of online charter schools. I was traditionally homeschooled for the better half of my academic career. My brother went through junior high and highschool using various online solutions. From my understanding, no one was a big fan of ECOT. They provided severely underpowered machines, which were in fact locked down too much. At the time, their bureaucratic setup was confusing and stifled learning. It may have gotten better in the years since, but I can't recommend it based on what I've seen.

Following up on that, my brother also did two years with OHDELA. They had their act together much better than ECOT, but again, issued terrible hardware. This time however, it was a crummy iMac locked down even tighter than the Compaq mini towers ECOT gave out. Furthermore, OHDELA relied far too much on trying to simulate a traditional classroom. Mandatory chatrooms and timed virtual blackboards just got in the way of the original promise of working at your own pace. It may have benefited those that needed the help, but making it compulsory did more to slow my brother's progress than anything.

His final time was spent with an organization called Buckeye Online. They provided a fairly decent laptop computer (completely open!) and relied more on bookwork. This was exactly what my brother had wanted all along. He wasn't chained to a desk or required to participate in some simulated blackboard environment. All he had to do was read the chapter in his text book and then submit the corresponding lesson electronically. He blew through the material and graduated one year earlier than he would have otherwise.

Now again, a lot has probably changed since I watched my family work with these different organizations. Some may be better or worse than they were. Some of the points of contention that my brother had may be the exact thing that your child would prefer. The point is to study up on them before just blindly signing up. Most of them do offer seminars leading up to the traditional start of the school year. Go and listen, ask questions, discuss your concerns. It has been my experience that you'll usually have the ear of some of the more important people within the organization.

So can students be home-schooled electronically? Absolutely. I would say that the benefits far outweigh any negatives. Most of the perceived problems that people have with homeschooling can be quickly and easily remedied if you're not a lazy parent. Having an online support system, as provided by these institutions, definitely makes things easier. It's still not something you can just throw and your child and expect to happen. It's a framework for the parents to work within, to help out, to expand upon, and to monitor. Of course, any parent who takes their job seriously would be doing that anyway, even if their child went to a physical school.

Re:YES it is, and here's proof (2)

Praedon (707326) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495242)

That was a very insightful reply. ECOT in the beginning, from what we heard before my sister came in, was really in shambles. By the time my sister started though, it was her answer to dealing with bullies, lack of public education attention, and she could work on things at her pace. Every once in awhile, she did have some issues getting a hold of teachers, but they were bombarded for the longest time. She was really proud of herself, for being able to accomplish her work using ECOT though, and it really improved her self-esteem.

I do agree though, that it could be very situational to the child. ECOT worked for her, whereas it may not of, for your brother. I just wish I could of had ECOT when I was that age. I always found public education to be the most boring waste of time in the world. Never challenged, horrible environments, and hated all my peers.

Re:YES it is, and here's proof (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38495386)

Never challenged and a boring waste of time, but you managed to come out thinking "could of" and "may not of" make any sense at all.

Dreadful idea (3, Insightful)

cohomology (111648) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494950)

The kids who need help often have chaotic home environments. They need role models, not electronics. There is no technical fix.

Absurd (2)

pijokela (462279) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494956)

Judging by my kids, the idea of home learning is absurd. Or at least it will require one parent to constantly supervise the home learning. Kids lack discipline and tenacity, they only learn those after growing up. So, if we are going to teach them boring stuff while they are growing, they need an environment that helps them focus on the matter at hand. I-products do not.

I actually find it quite interesting how many different schools around the world try something like this. Wonder if any of these projects are working out well. From what I've heard from teachers, even though kids nowadays know a lot about computers, it's all gaming and entertainment. They might not even know how to write a letter with their computer.

sh1t (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38494962)

Also dead, 1ts

It Can Work Well for Adult Education (1)

DERoss (1919496) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494990)

My daughter has a master's degree in education. Her master's project studied distance learning for adults over the Internet. She found that Web-based courses can indeed be effective. HOWEVER, she also found that such courses are far more effective if the students and instructor meet face-to-face as a group about once each month.

Distance learning can be very important for adults. For example, in some areas, doctors are required to pursue ongoing education in order to retain their licenses. For a doctor in a rural area where he or she is the only health provider, leaving the community to take a two-week course would mean that the community is left without any doctor.

Distraction is the new education (1)

AndronicusRhodos (2009652) | more than 2 years ago | (#38494998)

Content consumption of widgets, and assorted eye candy along with advertising is the new education practice that teaches us the most important lesson of the 21rst century. How to consume content. Just sayin.

Well.. (1)

Wovel (964431) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495002)

The answer to your questions is yes it is a viable option in the classroom and for home schoolers. Your wife apparently is in need of in service training on classroom management. She is doing her students a disservice. They are all suffering because she does not have control of the class room.

Technology is an excellent tools in the hands of any competent teacher.

Wrong tool. (1)

ieatcookies (1490517) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495030)

Giving a young student a device they can play games will result in young students playing games. The ipad seems like the wrong tool for the job with young students. Also, taking notes on a iPad???

To be a student. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38495038)

It's not the knowledge itself that's useful, but learning how to apply the knowledge.

However, there are always keys needed in order to unlock more knowledge, and before you have a key you can't evolve and open the door to more knowledge. And a computer is merely a telescope through you can find the doors.

School is learning to learn, not a fact accumulation process.

However many teachers fails to have that insight and just feeds the students with information that has to be sorted out by the students.

Implementation, implementation, implementation (4, Insightful)

The Stranger (24022) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495042)

The problem with many (maybe most?) attempts to put technology in schools and even home learning environments is that people don't think through the implementation. Technology is not magic. You cannot expect to get good results simply by dropping a chunk of technology into a classroom without spending a lot of time and energy rethinking how teaching and learning is going to work in that classroom. For example:

What, exactly, is the technology going to be used for? No hand-waving general answers allowed here (e.g., "enrich content with interactive multimedia presentations" is a useless answer).
In what specific tasks will the technology allow you to do something that would have been cumbersome or impossible without it (e.g., using graphing or numerical methods to approximate solutions to equations that are not amenable to the usual algebraic techniques)?
What more interesting or more engaging problems can you now attempt to solve (that address your learning goals) that you would not have been able to attempt without the technology?
Will you want to change or expand your set of learning goals now that you have this piece of technology? If so, how?
How much instructional time will be needed to get the teacher and students working comfortably with the technology? Is the potential benefit worth that amount of time?
How do you implement the technology in ways that do not detract from the learning you are trying to do (i.e., what are the unintended consequences)? How might you plan ahead for negative unintended uses?

Almost every case I've ever seen or read about where technology was just dropped into an educational setting without painstaking planning and thought about curriculum and implementation, not to mention extensive training of teachers and staff, resulted in mixed results at best, and failure and rejection at worst. To answer the original questions directly, technology aids can help or hinder education- it's all in the amount of time, thought, sweat and tears that get put into the implementation. I won't comment more on the home schooling part of the question, as I really have no experience there (aside from supplementing my own kids' educations).

Has to be said (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38495054)

Is our children e-learning?

WhyTF would you want this in a classroom? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38495074)

I just finished the ai class. And the db class. And the ml class. That's "e-learning", right? Involved an old box booted off usb with just enough linux to run opera and flash for the videos, and (for ml class) octave. And an editor to take notes. Did that at home, on a different continent than stanford is on.

Why you'd want to give kids ipads and expect them not to take full advantage of it is a bit beyond me. What's wrong with books? You're in a classroom setting, everybody is there already. No need to go all "e". In fact, that schooling approach with "no computers!" is quite popular in silly valley. And I can see why.

The thing is not to focus on the technology. It's an enabler, but so is a nearby teacher, so are places to sit and learn, so are books, so is pen and paper. Focus on teaching the kids stuff, already. All the rest is gravy.

E-learning is still learning (4, Insightful)

rbowen (112459) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495078)

I am perplexed by equating "e-learning" with "give every kid an iPad". If you give a kid a screen and make it under their control they will find the games. If someone is unaware of this, they probably dont have kids. But this is not unique to electronics. If you give them a stack of text books and no supervision, they'll make paper airplanes. Education requires supervision at that age. Putting an e- in front of things doesn't change human nature.

The Military's Demonstrated Failure (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38495102)

The US Military has demonstrated the failure of electronic learning, and continues to pour millions of dollars into it. There are really only 2 things relevant to teaching; the students, and details. I click through 200 sylabus hours of CBT's a year, and learn damn near nothing from them. Being uninterested in human trafficing, that CBT went as fast as I could click. The annoying ones make you "listen" to each video segment. They get muted and backgrounded and take twice as long as scheduled because I forget to click the next button while doing somethign else mind-numbing. Fortunately, the DOD ones require good accessibility, so almost all of the course material (for ones with non-obvious tests) is available in PDF so you can search and click.

That being said, my 4 year old is obsessed with books and has pretty much taught herself to read with starfall.com. It's all about the students. Your wife's experience with computers in the classroom is like mine. They're absolutely useless. She taught calculus and honors algebra, and found taht the computers were a net negative because they were an authorized distraction to the students who didn't want to learn. Fortuantely, she quit teaching before she became bitter and jaded. There are a few people who have done well with the ECOT system, but that's not a strength of ECOT, it's a weakness of our public schools and a testament to parents of kids (who in my limited experience are all have a spectrum disorder). However, there's nothing magic about a computer.

My cynical opinion is that we should accept that there are motivated kids and useless kids, and give the motivated kids a good education and not let the rest of them prevent our good students from getting an education. And yes, that's all about parenting, but will never fly in the US, because it will discriminate horribly. Given the state of our education system and it's interaction with society, though, the only chance is that, forced sterilization, or punishing parents for not caring (instead of paying them per kid)

I would say no (1)

koan (80826) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495106)

Unless it's a locked down device because too many distractions exist on a standard platform, however the real measure of how effective this sort of teaching is is how the students fair later on down the education road and how they compete in the work place against the rest of the World.

It's really too early to tell.

Depends (1)

bleedingsamurai (2539410) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495112)

I think the current state of technology in the classroom is: "lets just throw money at it" instead of figuring out what is really out there. If there was more thought and planing and effort put into it by the schools it would be great, perhaps even better then a traditional classroom. At college I usually take a couple on line classes each semester, and they take advantage of the medium. It isn't just "here, read this and do 1-20 for homework" there is embedded content and interactive assignments that would just be cumbersome or not possible in a traditional classroom. Where I work, we do tech support for K-12 and districts just blow money on iPads and smartboards and other du-dads, some of the teachers don't even have room in their curriculum for this stuff. And the iPad thing is really stupid, they spend 600 dollars on the thing, then another 80 on a keyboard and mouse with a case that props the iPad up...buy a laptop, for less money and more functionality. Again, if there was more thought put behind the purchases, it would make things so much better.

Works but not yet a panacea (2)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495136)

Oddly enough if you hand out a device that happens to be an excellent toy to a bunch of kids things won't go as well as you might expect. Yet I have a simple solution. Move your desk to the back of the classroom. Unless your educational software looks like angry birds one glance will tell you if little Johnny is screwing around.

I am the creator of Learn French by LessonStudio (shameless self promotion) which is a singleminded app that teaches basic French vocabulary and Grammar;. It follows some pretty basic modern educational science and personally I believe works rather well. Handed out to a class of kids they could probably absorb some French pretty quickly as compared to an equivalent textbook. But again I wouldn't hand the app out to the kids and leave them to their own devices(ha ha).

At the same time I don't think that there is any complete end to end teaching system out there. Moodle is a mess for teaching. It does what it does well but it certainly is far far away from being some replacement for teachers. It is really only for administering a classroom. But great administration does nothing to improve the teacher. I pick on Moodle but all the systems that I have seen are aimed squarely at the bureaucrats that run the schools with only a nod to actual improvements in teaching. So based on the state of the art right now if I were a teacher I would not look for something where I could go home but a series of tools that enhance individual lessons.

Paperweights? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495150)

I'm related to a couple elementary school teachers and there are some universal problem with i-devices:

They come out of fed-grant or state-grant or capital budget to get the physical boxes. If you're extremely lucky you Might get grant / capital funds to buy tough cases and/or charging cradles. The kids will eventually destroy the charging cables by shoving them in upside down. Spend the money now, or later, your choice. The political types get more "points" by a press release that you have purchased 100 devices, than you have purchased 50 devices and all the wasteful accessories which are the only thing that make them useful, so you're not getting cradles or tough cases or spare charger cables. So soon you won't be using them at all.

Then you have no wifi inet access in the classroom. If you had wifi inet access the kids would spend most of their time surfing around aimlessly, even theoretically the "cool" ed sites like starfall are or at least were flash-based only, or they want a subscription, for which of course you have no money. You could probably afford website subscriptions if you didn't buy ipads, that is how the suppliers set their supply/demand curves. So you probably won't be doing "internet" stuff with the ipads.

Assuming you shake the parents down for itunes gift cards like you shake them down for other school supplies at the start of the year, you still have to find a freaking app. There are like 75 cruddy rote addition apps, then half that for subtraction, then half that for multiplication, pretty soon to do anything specific you end up with nothing. So you either have dozens of shovelware, or nothing at all. The teachers grapevine helps a little for the stuff in between, but pretty much there's nothing out there. Then you get to fight the local IT people about software installation onto school property, or cave into them and wait six months for them to hire an intern to enter the gift cards and do it on ITMS for you, to "save your valuable teacher time". Meanwhile the ipads sit in the box.

The final killer, in all honesty, at elementary levels, you'd like to think the kids spend three hours a day doing calculus but realistically the majority of the school day has no purpose for an ipad. Could you use an ipad for 30 minutes one time using an electronic instrument synth app? Yeah. Once. For 30 minutes in music class. The rest of music class is spent singing and learning about other physical music instruments. Not sure what you'll be axing from the district mandated curriculum to fit the ipad in.. All that is not compulsory is forbidden and all that is not forbidden is compulsory is the motto no a days. Ditto gym class, art class.

The academic classes have strict no child left behind curriculums decided mostly at the district level. In this district on day #34 we will watch Bill Nye Volcano episode and discuss. Where does the ipad fit into the district curriculum that is only updated every decade or so? It doesn't. In 10 years, instead of the curriculum containing mandatory 20 year old VCR videos, it'll contain mandatory 20 year old technology requirements (so you must run Oregon Trail on a genuine original Apple II to meet our NCLB goals...). The 20 year old tech at that time, is currently 10 years old, so in about 10 years you can expect intense demand for Palm Pilot III models on ebay, sony clie era palm pilot clones, etc.

So... paperweights?

Re:Paperweights? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38495382)

It is so funny you talk about oregon trail on apple ii systems. I actually have that at our school. When I came in a couple years ago, I dumped the emacs and brought in 3ghz imacs and dual quad core i7's this year. But we still have teachers who claim they HAVE to have the apple iie in their classroom for oregon trail to work with their sped students. I actually blame teachers and parents for the failures of students in the districts I have managed as tech dir.

  Teachers who are light speed fast to shove kids onto lab systems to give them busy work and provide the teacher quiet time so they can work on their masters degree and get a lane change in pay on the taxpayers dime and parents who are so inept that they cant be expected to help their kids at all with their home work.

    We see parents of failing kids going into and out of the bars and liqueur stores and vfw's, legions, moose clubs, etc... when they could be helping their kids. They then whine when their kids dont make the grade and we have to bit our tounges when the parent actually asks "why isnt my kid making it?"

Ipads and such are pushed for by a lot of teachers because it is just another way they can get away with not teaching. At our district, we could fire 3/4 of the staff and the tech crew could provide the same level of teaching since we are the ones asked for help and instruction on everything that involves a computer screen anyway.

I blame the commercials from the 80's that expressed how important teachers are to the future. Many of our teaching staff expect everything given to them. When they dont get $$$ for extra supplies they make up for it by acting passive aggressive and sending their kids to the library or dumping them on a lab worker and they sit in their rooms watching tv, or working on their masters, or having a prelunch lunch, etc...

Great for distance learning ... mostly (4, Informative)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495170)

I can only speak for myself, but I am enrolled on a distance-learning taught masters degree, which is taught solely over the Internet, and, on the whole, it has been a great experience.

Without physical classes, I've been able to study whenever I have wanted - the term has a structure, with deadlines to be met, but, around those, I can work during times which suit me. Lectures are delivered in the form of podcasts, in 30 minute slots. These I tend to listen to when I am driving or ironing - sufficient to get the gist of the topic. I avoid taking notes, since I just want to soak up what is being said.

The text book is delivered as a Word document, but quickly and easily converted to .pdf; other reading comes in whatever form in which it was originally provided (could be a link to a web page, or a .pdf download and so on) - again, all easily converted to pdf. These I read on my iPad (in iAnnotate) and mark them up accordingly; all synchronised back to my computers, to become searchable when it comes to thinking, and writing essays.

Essays are written - unsurprisingly - on a computer, and are submitted electronically; I tend to use .pdf, but I am not sure what others use. These are all run through TurnItIn software - I'm undecided whether I think that this is a good practice or not, but, since I have no say in the matter (short of quitting the course), I can live with it.

On the whole, a very positive experience indeed - I've studied on trains, planes as well as sitting at home, and have written essays in four different countries. The flexibility is great.

There are some downsides, though - particularly around student camaraderie and discussion. Despite there being some great tools available, I don't feel that we've quite cracked the discussion / debate side of things yet. I've chatted with some of the students around the world via Skype, which has been very interesting, but, having encouraged mailing lists, real-time text chat, and now blog posts / responses and (*shudder*) a Facebook wall, nothing seems to have attracted critical mass which, for me, is a real shame - I value the ability to discuss and debate very highly, and I don't feel we've got this quite right yet.

(It may, of course, be that few of the students actually want to discuss, and the distance-learning nature means that people can studying without feeling a pressure to discuss - if this is the case, the course is probably suiting them very well, and I could indeed see the value of this form of study for those who do not want to be in a classroom environment, or required to make conversation. Personally, I think that discussing and critiquing of ideas amongst peers is very valuable, but I appreciate that others may think differently.)

On the whole, though, it works very well for me - I find it easy to be motivated to study something I enjoy, in an environment which suits me.

If I had a hammer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38495174)

If the school gave all the children hammers, I suspect that in all the other classes beside shop, kids would be hammering their desks and each other and the teachers would ban hammers in their classes. A hammer is just a tool, it doesn't lead to learning unless it is applied to a skill.

A Crutch or a useful tool? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38495176)

I have some experience in this area.
I tell parents only allow computers where it will really aid their child. If its being used as a crutch to get them over something they are deficient in such as writing spelling or math, Then its not being used properly.
Computers and related devices are wonderful tools. In the education field the can really help or hinder depending on how they are implemented.

Locking them down is one option, but kids always find a way around this. I find the best way is just not to make available, Don't allow the kids to take them home, set up a centralized server to store the information and turn the tablets into dumb terminals. Each day before the kids leave for the day collect all the tablets, dump any information into the kids account then wipe and reload them. Redistribute them when they comb back to school.
Now this may limit What teachers can set for homework. But this is probably a good thing.

The Cold, Hard Truth (1)

InfiniteZero (587028) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495186)

Well, here is the cold, hard truth: Learning is HARD. Period.

Some kids, for one reason or another, are more interested and motivated in learning than others, but they are a small minority. (Nerds are among them, but that's another story.) Even so, they are mostly only interested in learning a subset of the subjects offered as the general education. Most other kids couldn't care less and are in school only because they have to.

Electronic gadgets are not going to help much. Short of the invention of a knowledge serum (e.g., a shot for advanced physics, another for Greek history), or a Matrix-style interface, there is no easy way out.

it already works (1)

emilper (826945) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495196)

e-learning works, it's the brick and mortar schools that became babysitter replacements and they won't perform better no matter how much "e-" you add in front of it.

Would it be e-learning if the textbooks and practice quizzes would be distributed in an electronic format ? Would it be still e-learning if the reference materials would be available in an electronic format ? Would it be e-learning if the teachers would use Skype/YM/GTalk/forums to interact with the students after classes ? I guess it would, but then the "e-learning" solution providers would gain less.

The best e-learning tool is wikipedia. It's not perfect, or accurate or neutral, but in itself is a learning tool and the schools are stupid not to embrace it.

Wise technology (1)

minstrelmike (1602771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495216)

Using technology correctly shows improvement. Well-written learning games are immensely useful on game devices.
Taking notes on paper as opposed to electronics is just as useful/useless either way. It depends on the teaching itself.
The other aspect of e-learning is the distance stuff. Folks learn a lot better in interactive groups and anything that diminishes the interactivity diminishes the learning.
This principle doesn't mean e-devices are bad, just that they need to be implemented properly.

Aristotle thought reading would spell the death of civilization (because students weren't memorizing poems the way Ari did as a child).

As a parent with a kind who got a school laptop: (1)

eagee (1308589) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495224)

It's a tremendously stupid waste of resources. If you want kids to learn about technology give them a crappy low power device (like a Pentium 1 equivalent) running a low end unix variant. This way, you can give them access to wifi, but the laptop can't do a heck of a lot more than check email and slowly load simple articles. The Internet at large combined with modern distractions is too enticing when you're supposed to be learning geometry. While there are myriad distractions in any learning environment, they'll at least have to learn something to get to 'em.

Heck, the whole reason I learned to program is because I only had access to an older computer no one was writing software for anymore.

Amusing how many oppose technology for education (1)

youn (1516637) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495234)

this is slashdot... a good 99.3% of you were geeks as kids and it got you to where you were. chances are you learned complex technology despite the fact most people around you sucked at it (sometimes even teachers) and often tried to distract you or discourage you from these endeavours... willpower kicks ass when you are motivated and technology is a knowledge enablers.

Technology can be helpful but you have to teach the children boundaries and focus them - and this is as much a responsability of the teacher and the students. Yes, technology can be a distraction, so can a bee be one too. Students are easily distracted.. at all ages.

Even playing can be a learning experience... it can be argued some people get paid to play games they played as a kid under different settings (sports, singing, ...)

Don't blame the distraction, blame the distractee (the student) and the distractor (the teacher failing to focus the attention of its student)

Yes, but not for kids (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38495246)

Yes, adults benefit greatly from E-learning overall. Whether it is doing courses through Open-University, Khan Academy, or even just learning through the sources of Wikipedia articles at random.

Kids, however...
Most kids will tend to want to play games, go to Facebook or whatever else.
If you lock these things down, then they might get some more work done.
If you lock the places wi-fi down, more if you have no control over the devices in question.
And to be honest, this is equally a fault of the system itself rather than the fact that games exist.

Education "should be fun", not boring. Coursework should make you excited to work with it, should make you genuinely interested in learning.
Education shouldn't be "here, go to page 12, this is how you do this, practice it on the next 10 pages with slight variations, you have till half-past to finish."
My school took the former approach after years of "the standard" and actually engaged students, our year helped them get after-school clubs setup which actually really worked well, there was a remarkable turn-up for Maths, Computing, Art, English and many others.
Then sadly had to close due to huge structural damage, pipes on their last legs and asbestos. (I still think it is a conspiracy to keep people a certain level of stupid)

Elementary School? (1)

gallen1234 (565989) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495276)

I would be very reluctant to use almost any kind of technology at the elementary school level. In my experience, computers are a great tool for expressing your imagination but they're not so great for helping to develop one which is what students should be doing at that age.

Bad Experiment leads to Expected Results? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38495280)

I'm not sure that the experiment in the original question (or the question itself) makes a lot of sense. How is giving all the students an iPad an "experience in e-Learning"? If the base assumption was just "give them tablets, and they'll use them for note-taking and stuff...", that's just idiotic. That's not "e-Learning" at all. It sounds like the teacher in this case didn't by any means adapt her teaching methods or course content to use the tool effectively; is it any surprise that it failed? (Though, in fairness, this is likely a failure of the school district for implementing such a poorly-conceived plan without adequately preparing and equipping the teachers to succeed.)

Technology itself is neither the problem nor the solution, but it can be part of a solution if you know what you're trying to accomplish and have a way of measuring success. Homeschooling is the same; technology makes learning more accessible outside of the traditional classroom (both through access to information, and through tools to help present, explain, and interact with that information), but it's not just going to magically happen for everyone just because technology is there. Like any tool, you have to know how to use it effectively in order to reach the desired outcome.

a wheel may be a weapon, too (1)

znrt (2424692) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495290)

someone asking such a question should definitely not be concerned with education whatsoever.

Short answer, Yes. (1)

aitikin (909209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495314)

"Do technology aids help, or hinder, education?"

Short answer: Yes!

Long story: When I was in college, I would often bring my laptop (my good ol iBook G4) to classes with me. I'd use in just about every class I could get away with it (couldn't in music classes, science labs, etc) and I'd often spend time reading a new book or catching up on facebook. That being said, there were also a number of courses I was enrolled in that I brought it to and used it to take notes. I'd still end up reading a book, but I'd find I'd get about two chapters done and about two pages worth of decent notes written, whereas in the other classes I'd be closer to five or six chapters (and no notes).

Interestingly enough, even when I would get absolutely no notes taken, my mind was still active enough to catch much of the class discussion and chime in when appropriate, surprising everyone around me (who saw what I was doing) with (mostly) useful insights on the matters. The thing is, when my iBook was battery-less (couldn't get to an Apple store to bitch about it still being under AppleCare), I was so far out of it that when the professor called on me I had to ask her to repeat the question more often then not. Never had that issue when my laptop was there, even though I was not paying the slightest bit of attention...

So my point is, they help, and hinder, but they really help when:
A. The student is interested.
B. The student is able to learn.
C. The topic is important (I paid far more attention in my courses directly correlating to what I wanted to do).
D. Most important of all, the professor/teacher/educator knows what they are doing.

Without point D, you can't expect a student to have A, making C less than likely and B difficult to develop.

YES - ymmv (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38495328)

Bottom line: The students can get a lot more experience and learn a lot more.

It depends on what you are teaching.

I have had success teaching graphic design to high school students. The computer makes some things incredibly easy. Consider balance for instance. You can make an element larger or smaller, darker or lighter. How about repetition. You can have as many of something as you want. You can make them get bigger or smaller. You can make them rotate as they repeat.

The students lose out on hand skills but the advantages outweigh that by far. I painfully remember a disaster with an inking pen that ruined a week's worth of work when I was a student. The computer brings graphics closer to writing. You can edit and perfect a design rather than having to go back to square one. The teacher's suggestions can be included in this design, right now. You don't have to give a student a crummy mark and tell her to do better next time. You can say: "Try these changes and re-submit." The students get a lot more experience and learn a lot more.

Wrong question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38495330)

Around the world, adult literacy classes need 90 hours in the classroom to prepare an illiterate adult's mind to use books to finish high school. In 2 or 3 years, depending on the motivation and intelligence of that adult mind, they can continue to college. Clearly, most of what happens in standard schools is merely maturation of the brain, and the image of 'learning stacked on learning' is bogus, something schools put into our minds to justify their existence.

So, why would I put my kid in a prison for 10 years at $5K / year? Up to $25K / year if I put him in a private school.

Public schools lose 30 - 50 % of their students to dropout and a significant portion of their former students hate everything about education. They are especially bad at dealing with intelligent boys with independent minds. Why would I expose him to that risk of failure?

Kids love learning real skills : cooking, carpentry, auto repair, spreadsheets, gardening, ... They absorb languages like sponges, read adventure books, exciting historical novels, ... As they get older, making beer, growing mushrooms, ...

Kids learn to read without effort when they have computers and other kids to play with. They learn arithmetic, computers, ... Google 'unschooling movement' and 'hole in the wall experiment'.

Every one of you knows that you learn 10X as fast when you are interested in something compared to when the teacher is trying to drill it into your head.

At age 16, it is time to do academic work, as they have adult minds. Plenty of material to make that work on the net, tests to self-check progress and a GED system to certify that they are HS grads, SAT to certify they are ready for college.

Our son is doing fine, the major stress is having the faith to believe in the educational research supporting the above while he continues to be interested in this, that and the other. He has tutors for languages, we clearly see that progress. His piano teacher is happy with his progress (Bach's Toccatta and Fugue, Maple Leaf Rag recently). Also, his writing ability improves without any practice that I see, his mental sophistication, range of knowledge, ... ditto. He has read all of Cornwall's novels, lots of other historical novels, is watching TED talks every day, so we have a lot to talk about. Soccer and other activities keep him in touch with a wide range of friends, and he spends a lot of time in online games with them.

Meanwhile the other parents brag about how many hours their kids spend in after-school classes for math, ... and our son is automating his farms in MineCraft, downloads EE texts to understand logic gates.

So the experiment isn't done yet, parents are a bit nervous, but kid is happy, interested and interesting. Best of all, the beer he makes is completely outstanding and he is very popular with his older friends 8).

No different than computers at work. (1)

ToasterTester (95180) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495342)

People at places I've work think of their work computers like their home computers and spend a lot of time on personal email, surfing net, chatting and other non-work computing. Some places I've worked address this restricting what can be loaded and content monitoring. That helps but people find way to waste time on non-work (and bitch they have to stay late to get work done.)

Then I've been places and gone toe-to-toe with management over all the non-work activity and typically non-work software installed. Management starts justifying it saying people work had "they deserve their diversions". They only time management will complain is when the network start slowing down or I tell them I need more storage. Then they slap employees on the wrist and the cycle start anew.

So I can fully understand the youth of today who live their lives on social media getting a tablet and doing everything but school work. Tablets and other devices will only be a distraction unless they are restricted to education related app's and tools.

Humanity is acquiring all the right technology
for all the wrong reasons - Buckminster Fuller

Fear, Distractions and Instant Gratification (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495348)

People are simple organisms. They react to immediate threats to their lives, after that they prioritise their next meal, their next dose of "fun" and whatever bodilly functions cause them discomfort.

Now, try to persuade those people to stop doing things they like doing and address some abstract concepts that may, but almost certainly won't, become important to them at some distant point in their futures. That's what education tries to do. it only succeeds because the teacher (for want of a better term) is able to induce or threaten their pupils to PAY ATTENTION - or at least not blatantly ignore them. Then, if the teacher is lucky, a small percentage of the wisdom they impart will be retained - for a few days, at least.

Once you remove the teacher from the scene, and replace him/her/it with a device that gives the pupil access to an almost infinite source of "fun" the chances of them stumbling upon the information they are supposed to be learning is indistinguishably close to zero. [ Although it's still perfectly possible that they will learn stuff that WILL be useful to them in later life, that's not what they will be tested and their teachers' success assessed on - so it doesn't count. ]

Motivation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38495376)

Well, I'm out of school now and am learning on my own. I spend most of my days interacting with computers learning 5 languages, helping me in my musical aspirations and accessing general information on topics I'm interested in.

This isn't even an issue of whether technology is good or not. It obviously is. An uninterested student will learn little, regardless of the source. Schools are best at turning off learning and pumping out mediocrity. If everyone could find out what they like and were in an environment where they could pursue it, then a bit of game playing wouldn't be frowned upon.

Maybe such antics... (1)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495394)

... wouldn't be a problem is teachers were still allowed to fail students.

Sure, little Johnny can play Skyrim all day - but wait till Mommy and Daddy discover he's flunked the seventh grade....

fp tr0ll (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38495410)

Miles7ones, telling Hobby. It was all our cause. Gay been sitting here

It works, just not the way you think (1)

iamacat (583406) | more than 2 years ago | (#38495416)

Children learn all the time and, for those with inclination, having access to boundless information pays off. They might start from gaming, but will eventually progress to wikipedia and so on. The rest are just hopeless no matter what you do. However, as a teacher you are obviously responsible for giving direction.

  • Does your homework include use of specific apps - say iMovie for film projects and GarageBand for composing music?
  • I hope you thought of giving each student a bluetooth keyboard? Learning is not supposed to be one way.
  • Did you setup and teach of the use of VNC sessions to school Linux server for programming/scientific tools and other educational software not available on App Store?

Other than that iPad is not a bad choice. While there are cheaper/more ruggedized netbooks, iPad is a magnet for kids of all ages and you can be sure it will be actually used. It's up to you to channel that for educational purposes.

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