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New Hampshire to Follow Maine's Lead

CowboyNeal posted more than 10 years ago | from the laptops-for-the-masses dept.

Education 236

Timex writes "According to an article from the Portland [Maine] Press Herald, some seventh-graders in New Hampshire will be issued laptops in January. 19 school districts have been invited to submit proposals, and up to five of them will be chosen to lead the way in New Hampshire. Cabletron Systems co-founder and NH Governor Craig Benson is getting funding for the four-year project from corporate donations. So far, he's gathered about half of the estimated $1.2 million estimated cost."

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!!! FIRST POST !!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6887798)

pooahh

GRASSHOPPERS! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6887801)

word is bond motha fuckas!

Excellent news (3, Funny)

peen (161966) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887807)

Will they be iBooks though? :)



(fp?)

Re:Excellent news (3, Funny)

H0ek (86256) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887865)

Not if the students want to learn anything...

I mean, where's the struggle with one of those iBooks? Heckm they're so easy to use even the most non-technical person can be productive.

No, what they need are cheap, noname-brand laptops with Gentoo Linux! Heck, even Gentoo makes it too easy. Make 'em to LFS!

That'll teach 'em!

Re:Excellent news (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6887932)

In my day we got an Apple ][ system monitor prompt, a book on 6502 assembly language, and an hour to build our own operating system. If we didn't get it done we were summarily executed as well as given an F.

Ah, good times.

Re:Excellent news (2, Funny)

H0ek (86256) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887970)

Assembly Language! Hah! We were lucky if we were given 15 minutes to divine the hexadecimal opcodes for the 6502 instruction set before we were expected to write our own multiplayer FPS!

Re:Excellent news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6888003)

Oh yeah? Well my shop teacher once raped me in the ass in the lumber closet. Well, not just once, more like every day of the semester. And then every day when I re-took the class in summer school.

Re:Excellent news (1)

JeffTL (667728) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888020)

Probably not, sadly; iBooks have very good battery life.

mommy. . (3, Funny)

NetMagi (547135) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887810)

mom, can I go back to school please. . c'mon I'm only 25

Better be Macs (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6887811)

If they don't choose Macs, they aren't following Maine's lead, they are moving in another direction entirely.

Re:Better be Macs (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6887827)

If they don't choose Macs, they aren't following Maine's lead, they are moving in another direction entirely.

Namely, backwards.

Re:Better be Macs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6887839)

...as opposed to ass backwards in the case of Winblows.

Re:Better be Macs (1)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887917)

The irony here is that MacOSX now exposes more of the fundamental concepts of computing than Windows does.

Re:Better be Macs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6888054)

You mean compared to OS 7-9 vs. MS-DOS/Windows? I'd argue that it always did. Windows/DOS was never a good place to learn computing fundamentals, just a place to get misinformed. I've always noted a congruence between Mac and Unix people. They always took the same approach, but at different levels. Good computing design is good computing design.

Really that's exactly why the OS X transition has been so relatively painless. I remember Jobs, of all people, saying "Unix is the future" in the late '80s when the first NeXT came out. That was right after he left the original Mac project. It was a layer transition, not a rethink.

Would be good if... (5, Interesting)

Blaine Hilton (626259) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887821)

The teachers knew how to use them, and the system admins know more about securing them then the kids that are using them.

It's about time... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6887824)

WindowsCHILD, WindowsNEWBORN, WindowsIMPLANT

Kid's and laptops. (5, Interesting)

Hayzeus (596826) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887830)

I dunno. I can't see issuing my middle schooler a laptop. Not because I have any particular problem with their use in education, but because the kid has a tendency to drop stuff (and lose stuff). Seems to be endemic to the age group.

Re:Kid's and laptops. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6887956)

Either the laptops will end up damaged, broken, lost, or outdated. My money's on the first three before the last one happens.

But c'mon. A four-year program with laptops that become outdated in a single year is kind of stupid.

Re:Kid's and laptops. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6887963)

Those iBooks really are a league apart from other notebooks. They can take being dropped, even having a modicum of liquid spilled on them. It's quite surprising compared to past notebooks. They might spontaneously die when a cold solder joint crack develops around the video hardware, but it won't be because you dropped the damn thing. ;)

Re:Kid's and laptops. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6887982)

Don't know about you, but when I was in middle school my parents were essentially forced to buy or lease a $500-$700 trumpet so that I could participate in Band class. Didn't even particularly want that elective, but still I had to carry that thing around and try not to break it.

Re:Kid's and laptops. (5, Informative)

Dark Lord Seth (584963) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887990)

IAACGWAL ( I am a college guy with a laptop ) and I can honestly say those things are nearly useless during class. They require boot time, which is wasted time. They also require juice considering they don't run on air and a random day at college lasts 8 hours for me. I haven't heard of ANY laptop with an 8 hours battery life and the idea of 30 people rushing for the nearest electrical outlet every 2 hours is plain silly. Also, laptops aren't very versatile for writing down stuff in a hurry. The programs given are very limited and using them can feel very unnatural at times. That whole issue might be solved by those tablet PCs with the pen thingy, which is far more suitable for jotting down notes and what not.

For college, nothing rocks more then a good pen and a good notepad with pre-perforated and lined paper. Though laptops would still rock, especially with WLANs. UT2k3 during dutch classes, anyone?

Re:Kid's and laptops. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6888107)

Actually, there are laptops that can get far more than 8 hours, look at the IBM X-series(though they cost a shitload), or the fujitsu lifebook.

Re:Kid's and laptops. (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888150)

For college, nothing rocks more then a good pen and a good notepad...

I prefer a mechanical pencil.
Pens stain my pocket protector.

Re:Kid's and laptops. (4, Insightful)

BWJones (18351) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888157)

They require boot time, which is wasted time

So, get an iBook. They are cheap and when you wake them from sleep, they are on almost instantly. No waiting.

They also require juice considering they don't run on air and a random day at college lasts 8 hours for me.

My 800 Mhz iBook ran for about 5 hours of constant use which is more than plenty for a day at school considering that you are not constantly using the laptop during your school day. If you were, you had access to a power outlet. Currently, I use an 12in Powerbook that has less battery life, but since I am not in classes anymore, I prefer it and the extra features.

Also, laptops aren't very versatile for writing down stuff in a hurry.

I can type much faster that I can write as can many, many others who generally prefer taking notes with a keyboard.

The programs given are very limited and using them can feel very unnatural at times.

I find a simple text edit program the easiest and fastest way to input notes.

That whole issue might be solved by those tablet PCs with the pen thingy, which is far more suitable for jotting down notes and what not.

I agree with you here. I have owned an Apple Newton 120 (they still rock!) and I have used some of the new Microsoft tablets, and by far, the Newton had better usability, although they are showing their age now by lacking modern I/O and networking. The Newton however was not quite ideal for notetaking. If you plugged in the additional keyboard they were O.K., but it needed a little more integration with the pen and keyboard. The current Wintel tablets are simply tablet versions of dekstop metaphors and simply, don't work very well. More R&D needed to go into interface design. I don't know if Apple will ever produce another tablet/subtablet type device, but it would certainly be welcome in many circles.

Yeah dont give kids pencils or calculators. (1)

HanzoSan (251665) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888159)



They should do all the math in their head because they might lose the pencil or drop the calculator!

REAL computer curriculums needed BEFORE computers! (5, Interesting)

blueworm (425290) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887832)

I help support the laptops here in Maine and the program is a complete joke. Schools don't do much more than post information on the Apple run FirstClass mail server and have students use search engines with the things.

Now if a REAL computer curriculum were to be developed around the Unix aspects of Mac OS X that would be something, but integration with the classroom itself isn't going to happen. I don't know how it could really without losing the attention of students who resort to web browsing during dull (and meaningless) lectures.

High School/Public School education is a joke in the U.S. Student's don't even know algebra by the time they graduate with A's in math.

Re:REAL computer curriculums needed BEFORE compute (1, Flamebait)

owenb (91248) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887891)

> Student's don't even know algebra


Looks like you didn't pay much attention in school either...

Re:REAL computer curriculums needed BEFORE compute (1)

carolchi (129848) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887913)

Has punctuation been taken off the curriculum too?

Re:REAL computer curriculums needed BEFORE compute (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6887980)

Looks like you didn't pay much attention in school either...

Hi,
Please don't end a sentence with an implied ellipsis. Didn't they teach you anything in grammar school?

Sincerely,

the Nazi Grammar Fairy's iBook

Re:REAL computer curriculums needed BEFORE compute (5, Informative)

NiKnight3 (532580) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887925)

I'm not sure where you are in the state, but please don't generalize and say that the laptop program isn't working throughout the state.

I live near Bangor, Maine, and I did a college photojournalism project at my middle school to see how the laptops were working. Not only did the students seem more engaged in their learning, but they used them for almost everything: they wrote journal entries, found clipart for multimedia presentations, and then researched information for a speech. And that was all during one class. Students in social studies the next period spent time researching current headlines on msnbc.com and informed the teacher of the latest development of the war in Iraq (I visited this spring). That's right, they were telling her the latest news. What better way to engage students in education than by letting them be the teachers? Every study I've ever seen has said that two-way learning is much more effective than reading from a textbook or listening to lecture.

While some districts in the state may be less excited about the program, its important to note that the laptop program in Maine is still supported and still working. While expensive, this program introduces students to technology at a fairly early age. It's very possible that Maine students will be much more tech-savvy once they leave their middle and high schools.

Re:REAL computer curriculums needed BEFORE compute (3, Informative)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887981)

What the poster was trying to point out is that simply throwing a bunch of laptops at schools isn't enough... Schools and teachers need to support the use of these things as well, and teach students how to use them.

As he pointed out, the schools in his area were hardly making good use of the machines. In your example, I bet that the distribution of laptops in Maine was accompanied by an education programme to teach how to use the laptops for school assignments.

Re:REAL computer curriculums needed BEFORE compute (3, Interesting)

scseth (127105) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888040)

I absolutely agree that the curriculum needs to endorse and support the laptop program in order to be successfull. However - the expectation cannot be that teachers can do this overnight.

When we implemented a laptop program for graduate students in 1990 at UC Irvine's Graduate School of Management, it definitely took some time for faculty to understand how to best use the new technology for their curriculum. Obviously, some professors took to it faster than others, some may never take advantage of the fact their students have laptops. IMO it took a 3-5 years for the faculty to understand how to best utilize the laptop program for their curriculum.

Re:REAL computer curriculums needed BEFORE compute (0, Flamebait)

alienw (585907) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888161)

I believe the poster's original point was that the laptops were useless education-wise. Your post seems to support that assertion.

Not only did the students seem more engaged in their learning

How exactly can a distraction such as a laptop cause students to pay attention to the subject at hand? Can you elaborate? Do you mean they weren't looking bored because they were playing Minesweeper while the teacher was explaining history?

they used them for almost everything: they wrote journal entries

And how is that better than writing journal entries in a notebook?

found clipart for multimedia presentations

I always found that multimedia presentations were a way to waste class time doing nothing. Can you explain what a multimedia presentation might be useful for? How does finding clipart contribute to those kids' education?

then researched information for a speech

Of course, we all know how reliable the Internet is at delivering accurate information... NOT. I think those kids would be better off learning how to use the library.

Students in social studies the next period spent time researching current headlines on msnbc.com

Great. How exactly is social studies remotely related to current headlines? What does that prove, that the students know how to read MSNBC.com?

What better way to engage students in education than by letting them be the teachers?

Was the teacher explaining the latest developments in Iraq when that happened? If he/she wasn't, then this is just a regular distraction.

Every study I've ever seen has said that two-way learning is much more effective than reading from a textbook or listening to lecture.

Perhaps. And every student I've seen prefers to watch TV to doing homework and reading textbooks. Obviously, if the students can choose to either do work or have fun, they will choose the latter. But that does not improve their learning of the assigned material.

In short, your post simply confirms the original premise: the laptops are useless toys that do nothing education-wise. Sure, they might slightly improve students' understanding of computers. However, learning how to use Word and Powerpoint is something that can be done in just a few hours, and doesn't require students to have laptops.

Re:REAL computer curriculums needed BEFORE compute (3, Interesting)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887936)

I agree... schools, and the education system in general, need to figure out 2 things:
- How to teach using computers, and when teaching without them is better.
- What to teach about computers.

Both these issues are not being addressed or even recognised in schools over here (Holland). In rare instances you see an enthusiastic physics teacher giving classes on computer science, and even in those cases they have little if any teaching materials to back them up.

Buying computers for schools or giving laptops to kids is not the way to improve education.

Oh, I can sympathise with your sentiment about education. Here in Holland, per-capita spending on education is about 2/3rds of the amount spent in the rest of Europe. It scares the hell out of me to see my country dumbing down, visibly.

Re:REAL computer curriculums needed BEFORE compute (1)

Lord Kholdan (670731) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888027)

Now if a REAL computer curriculum were to be developed around the Unix aspects of Mac OS X that would be something

Why would a 7th grader need to know anything about Unix? Seriously.

Re:REAL computer curriculums needed BEFORE compute (1)

JeffTL (667728) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888088)

Because, maybe, just MAYBE every noteworthy operating system except one is some form of Unix? If you know how to use Unix, you are capable of working efficiently with Linux (more and more common every day!) and can do more with Mac OS X, something a lot (not a plurality, but still a noteworthy quantity) of seventh graders have at home.

Re:REAL computer curriculums needed BEFORE compute (1)

JeffTL (667728) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888045)

My opinion is that every child should, by high school graduation, be capable of efficiently working --including scripting, and maybe programming-- in Windows, Mac OS X, and a more standard *nix such as Linux or Solaris.

Waste of money (5, Insightful)

Ignorant Aardvark (632408) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887833)

What a waste of money. Laptops aren't the answer to better student performance, as anyone who's been through college recently can attest. Laptops simply add more distractions - games, instant messager, PORN ... and aren't really more efficient than old fashioned pen and paper. That $1.2 million should be spent on something that really matters ... like new textbooks?

Thats for sure (2, Insightful)

Mycroft_514 (701676) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887849)

The same money could buy more desktop units, and could be used to teach the kids how to actually program.

I was taught that one needed to know the math before one could use the appropriate functions on the calculators or computers. This is a prime reason there are so many garbage "scientific" studies out there. Nobody recognizes the stats for the baloney they are.

Re:Thats for sure (2, Interesting)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887927)

I would agree with that, except for the fact that most schools I know of have plenty of computers. There's lots of money for that. I constantly hear about "X school got Y million to upgrade their computer labs." You never hear "X district got Y million to raise teachers' salaries," or "X school got Y million to replace 30-year-old textbooks." Buying new tech sounds more impressive, so that's what happens.

Re:Thats for sure (1)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887983)

Also, computers are produced by companies. Companies like to give discounts or free tech to little cute school kids. Its good advertising. Theres no such private-sector motivation for donating to top off teacher salaries.

Re:Thats for sure (2, Insightful)

Binary Gibbon (413182) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888074)

The mindset I have encountered more than once in high school (both studying and working there) is an ill-placed faith in software. Given the choice between a $20,000 license package for something that purports to be an out-of-the-box cure-all, and that same 20,000 going towards better or more faculty, the heads of the tech dept. always, always go for the software.

Re:Thats for sure (1)

Gossy (130782) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888118)

The same money could buy more desktop units, and could be used to teach the kids how to actually program.

Yeah, lets teach kids how to design and build cars before we allow them on the roads!

Kids need to be taught how to use the computer as a tool. Not everyone needs to know how to code, and I'm not too sure what would be gained from making all kids learn to program. There are far more efficient ways of training people to use a PC as a tool, as it should be.

Re:Thats for sure (1)

JeffTL (667728) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888129)

Well, to put it frankly, if we had more decent coders, there'd be a chance we'd have better software. And if we taught people how to design cars, we'd have better cars.

Re:Waste of money (1)

Alpha_Nerd (565637) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887901)

Or they could do something really useful with the money, like issue vouchers. Then parents could actually afford to send their child to a nongovernment school.

Throwing money at public schools isn't going to result in better education, takign the government out will.

Re:Waste of money (1)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887942)

Yeah, government institutions are always sucky. You know, poorly funded, not enough resources, can't seem to attract the top teaching talent with decent salaries ...

If I were you, I'd always vote in favour of giving the government less in taxes, and then demand that they should pay you to put your kid through a private school. You know, what with their inability to provide adequate resources for education for some strange reason.

Re:Waste of money (1)

BgJonson79 (129962) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888060)

When I went to HS here in NH, I went to the local catholic school. It was about $3,500 a year. The local public school cost about $6,000 a year. The kids at the public school did not get a 40% better education.

Re:Waste of money (1)

mithras the prophet (579978) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888117)

That Catholic school was also supported by outside funding, no? So the $3,500 you paid was not what was spent.

Also, any school that gets to pick and choose whom it will admit can spend less on support, aid for the disabled, free lunch programs, discipline and security, etc.

Or do you just think the Catholic school is 40% more efficient, plain and simple?

Re:Waste of money (1)

Dark Lord Seth (584963) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888058)

Porn isn't as much a distraction as much as it it self-torture. Have you got any idea how cruel it is to bring porn to college, watch it, get all randy of it and then look around you an realize you're spending the better part of the day with 28 sweaty geeks and a girl whose mass is only rivaled by the mass of the Eurasian tectonic plate? Of course personality is more important then looks but if I'd start about her personality she'd be off WORSE. So all in all, porn at college isn't the brightest idea. However, games are an entirely different story!

yes, and? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6887837)

And then what happened? Surely there is something more to this story? Maybe some linux zealotry or a little MS bashing? Please?

$1.2 million ... (4, Insightful)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887838)

Could buy an awful lot of textbooks.

Re:$1.2 million ... (1)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887941)

Are you suggesting that these school districts should donate the money they are raising to schools that actually need the money?

Doesn't that, I dunno, kinda smack of socialism?

These are districts that already have good textbooks, I wager, and the parents and involved citizens want their kids to get an additional advantage, in this case computer literacy and submersion from an early age.

Re:$1.2 million ... (2, Informative)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887995)

The school district I went to had computers all over the place. The labs were upgraded every couple years to state-of-the-art machines, most of which went unused.

And yet, we still had to deal with textbooks that were falling apart at the seams because they had been in use since the 70's.

It's nowhere near a sure thing that they already have decent books. In fact, I would be willing to bet that a lot of them don't.

Re:$1.2 million ... (2, Insightful)

Alex Reynolds (102024) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887996)

$1.2M could buy an awful lot of dead trees.

On the other hand, the information contained in those textbooks can and will be largely out-of-date in a decade, particularly where the fields of natural sciences and engineering are concerned.

Back in the days before the web, when I was in the K-12 system, I was handed textbooks that were decades old.

If I wanted to write a paper with current information, I would have to travel to the local college library, which had a budget sufficient to pay for today's periodicals and reference materials.

As a taxpayer, I wouldn't mind my tax dollars going to fund access to a textbook that can always grab current information from the web.

The web is here and children should be able to take advantage of that.

Granted, teachers need to be able to leverage this advantage but over time this will become the norm.

Embrace change, don't fear it.

-Alex

Re:$1.2 million ... (2, Insightful)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888080)

The web is a good resource, but it's not a replacement for textbooks. If you've ever tried to take a class using the web for information rather than buying the textbook (pretty common for us starving college students) you'd know that looking up uncommon subjects is rather difficult, requiring you to try dozens of different places to piece together a complete view of a topic, as well as sorting through tons of misinformation and contradictory statements. Online textbooks are not a solution: you've got to have the hardware, and they're no cheaper than buying the dead tree editions.

Schools should have web access. (Indeed, virtually all of them do.) The internet should not be the only source of learning material, however. That's not embracing technology, that's just a blind rush to do the next big thing.

Re:$1.2 million ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6888009)

Think so? I'm not so sure. Have you checked out the price of even grade-school textbooks lately?

A round of iBooks would probably outlast textbooks, which are basically good for one or two years. Yes it's wholly artificial, but it's interesting to note that there's an educational tool with a shorter obolescence period than a computer.

Re:$1.2 million ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6888156)

I just started college, and had to pay around $550CAD for the first semester's textbooks. Man, do they kick ass though! I don't mean the subject matter; they are very well written, and easy to understand. I remember the highschool physics textbook we had was an old college one that didn't explain things very well, gave explains that it didn't explain very well, then gave questions that were so unlike the examples that they were unnecessarily difficult to solve.

Textbooks kick ass!

Welcome ! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6887840)

I, for one, welcome our New Hampshire overlords. Under their benevolent rule, we shall live free or die.

improve learning? (1)

Coneasfast (690509) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887843)

well, if there is no proper supervision it could lead to problems rather than improve learning. my accounting class was in a computer room, all we used to do is play multiplayer shockwave games and hearts

Giving LapTops to kids (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6887853)

This is the biggest waste of Tax dollars I have ever heard of. Give em a cell phone and a car while you're at it.

Re:Giving LapTops to kids (1)

BgJonson79 (129962) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888087)

I believe the article said no taxpayer money is being used; it's from donations.

It just works... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6887860)

I am a teacher in Maine and I have to say that the program in Maine works. It received some criticism early on but now the program is in full force and it works. You can trash Apple as much as like but the bottom line is this. Imagine training the number of teachers necessary and then handing out laptops to very enterprising middle schoolers. Also imagine the headaches that could arise when all these middle schoolers get their computers infested with Windows worms and viruses and then expecting the teachers to fix the problems. It is a disaster in the making. The bottom line with using Apple laptops is that they are simple to use and maintain with a big emphasis on maintain. You can quote all those crappy TOC studies you want about Windows vs Apple but again, the burden on day-to-day maintenance is on the teachers themselves! I hope this is clear to all the Windows pundits. For what the state of Maine needed these computers, Apple simply worked better. I wish my neighbors in NH the best of luck in setting up their program. I hope they will take what we have learned thus far in Maine and get their program off to a good start.

Re:It just works... (1)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887907)

I think the important question is whether they need laptops at all?

Re:It just works... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6888033)

Exactly. No one disputes that iBooks are the best tool for the job if you accept that a portable computer is a good idea in the first place. No one's really demonstrated that yet, so the Mac/Windows thing is about as real a question as Coke/Pepsi.

Everyone disputes that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6888115)

" Exactly. No one disputes that iBooks are the best tool for the job if you accept that a portable computer is a good idea in the first place. "

No one? Better check again: most laptop users/buyers reject iBooks and get something else.

Re:It just works... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6887953)

Mod parent up as a teacher with experience please...

It barely works (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6887972)

" The bottom line with using Apple laptops is that they are simple to use and maintain with a big emphasis on maintain"

The reason for this is that they hardly run any software compared to PC's and as a result, they will be used as lot less than a PC. Yeah, my old 8-track player is simple to use, and takes up so little of my time because I don't use it. As a non-used appliance, there are no maintenance worries either.

" I hope they will take what we have learned thus far in Maine and get their program off to a good start."

They'd be better off learning with computers found in the real world. The skills will be wasted if they learn on Macs, because once they get out into the real world, there are hardly any of them in business. If you want to save money and have them use machines they will only use in school, why not spend $20 each to get them Commodore 64's.

PC's not only work, they play, create, and do a lot of other things as well. There are better alternatives to something that only works.

Mod parent down-- TROLL! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6888102)

C's not only work, they play,

Yeah, it's just so important for SCHOOLS to have computers that can play all those tired old cookie-cutter derivatives of Doom that come out every month.

and do a lot of other things as well.

Like crash, spread viruses, and slow down the internet in general and e-mail systems in particular with traffic from all the rampant worms probing for unprotected systems to infect.

"Informative" is a better idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6888139)

"Like crash, spread viruses, and slow down the internet in general and e-mail systems in particular with traffic from all the rampant worms probing for unprotected systems to infect."

No, like do productive things. There are so many productivity applications on PC's that just do not even have Mac equivalents.

"Yeah, it's just so important for SCHOOLS to have computers that can play all those tired old cookie-cutter derivatives of Doom that come out every month."

You can play Doom on the Mac (one of the few programs it has) so what is your point? If they want to do something besides Doom, they'll have to get non-Mac machines (which turn out to be easier to get, faster, and cost less: a win win win win win situation)

Idiotic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6887863)

This is just a typical example of what is wrong with the school system today (and why I am homeschooling my children). Instead of wasting money on high tech solutions that cost more to maintain the school system needs to stick with the building blocks of basic education.

Cool! More cheap ebay ibooks! (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6887871)

Best deal in the world: I think half the damn kids in maine must be selling their government-supplied laptops on ebay. You get a laptop for like 1/2 the price, kid (probably parents) gets cash.

I guess the kids go back and then just say their laptop was stolen, and then get another one, so everyone wins!

What the? (0)

alanhyee (680084) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887892)

What the hell? Middle schoolers don't need laptops, what are they going to use them for? Nothing. Good god, I was just a middleschooler and it would have been COMPLETELY pointless for me to use a laptop at school. The percentage of kids also don't know how to use computers, or how to treat them(hello falling on the floor).

Re:What the? (1)

Iron Monkey543 (676232) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887951)

I truly believe most of this laptops in schools business is just a "cool" factor.

Whatever.... (2, Insightful)

Iron Monkey543 (676232) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887910)

Absences, tardiness and disciplinary trips to the principal dropped significantly in one Maine school with the laptops, Benson said.

"If that doesn't tell you this works, nothing else will," he said.


I think it's because the laptop is more like a gimmick that keeps kids occupied. Back in my days, we stopped playing pencil break because we were busy making ASCII porn on a TI-82.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6887939)

Only a small portion of the entire economy will require extensive computer knowledge besides typing LOL and WTF? and using cellphone word auto-completion interfaces. Paper and pencils don't require batteries and are cheap to replace. Whatever happened to teaching reading, writing, and 'rithmetic?

The program seems to be working in Maine (3, Insightful)

rhakka (224319) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887949)

No, they aren't training kids to be programmers or Unix dudes or whatever: so what. What they are doing is ensuring that the entire educated populace in maine is comfortable with technology. And whether you like it or not, that is still becoming more and more a fundamental requirement of any form of employment, even if it's just on the administrative end. Hell if you want to work the cash register at the pizza place next to me you have to know the basics of computer usage.

The last story on this in maine highlighted greater attendance, fewer discipline problems, and greater attentiveness in class as easily spottable trends after the implementation of this program. The laptops stay with the classroom, not the students as they move on. But when the students move on they will know how to use the internet as a research tool, how to use spreadsheets and databases and word processors and such, in short they will be able to utilize technology.

In a state that is trying to update its workforce to keep pace with the times, that alone is a big step. Frankly, I think an educational system that IS NOT addressing the ever growing prescence of technology and its uses in our lives is woefully inadequate.

Re:The program seems to be working in Maine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6887967)

The last story on this in maine highlighted greater attendance, fewer discipline problems, and greater attentiveness in class

I wonder how long that will last once the novelty wears off and students discover security holes in the network to upload games and trade homework answers. Once that happens, I predict all three metrics will fall.

Re:The program seems to be working in Maine (1)

Iron Monkey543 (676232) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887969)

I believe they have certain classes for this, like Business and COmputers or something like that. It's not like we have a big problem with people getting out of high school and not knowing how to use a computer

Re:The program seems to be working in Maine (1)

rhakka (224319) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888095)

Not knowing how to use one effectively, on the other hand, is quite a common issue.

i am a school teacher (2, Insightful)

b17bmbr (608864) | more than 10 years ago | (#6887987)

this is just another of those sounds good, feels good ideas. i taught seventh grade for seven years, and now teach high school. the whole "computers in the classroom" is nonsense. there has not been one definitive study to show that technology aids in learning. now if these were part of a technology program, fine. but are these going to motivate students? no. are these going to increase learning? no. are these going to make the students more critical thinkers? no. it isn't the computer, it's what you do with it. for years teachers in my junior high school were all shits and grins about powerpoint presentations. they'd have the students spend a week in the lab, make this really neato PPT presentation. impress the shit out of everyone with all the eye-candy, and what did the students learn? not much. there was so little room for any information, all the students' time was spent looking for pictures, making word art, etc. it was crap. now, i would do a current event assignment. the students had to find a current event, had to research the country at the cia website, had to research the history on the web, and had to evaluate the article for bias. even though it was done in word, i specified no pictures, graphics, etc. i wanted content. now, which is more impressive? the PPT. which is more educational? hmmm...

beware teachers and districts that say how much technology they are implementing. if it is a tech program, i.e. networking, web design, sys-admin, programming, etc., fine. wonderful. but nothing beats a good teacher, who knows their subject, who makes kids read, think, write, and learn. technology should be part of a technology program only. it doesn't take a computer to make kids read books, use their brain, learn arithmetic skills, write complete sentences, learn history, etc. sorry, but that is the truth.

i am finishing a masters in ed. technology. i am as big a computer geek as there is on a high school campus. but i also am a history teacher. and there is nothing a computer can do for me, the kids, or the class, that will make them learn history better.

Re:i am a school teacher (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6888075)

i am finishing a masters in ed. technology. i am as big a computer geek as there is on a high school campus. but i also am a history teacher. and there is nothing a computer can do for me, the kids, or the class, that will make them learn history better.

Thank God it's not a master's degree in English!

Re:i am a school teacher (1)

swtaarrs (640506) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888097)

If you're a schoolteacher why didn't you capitalize your sentences?

Horrible use of 1.2 million dollars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6887994)

That money could buy a lot of miniature American flags.

Re:Horrible use of 1.2 million dollars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6888022)

... and to buy state flags, one for each classroom so that the students can pledge allegience to their state and not just to the nation. Yay, patriotism.

How's that for a turn? (5, Funny)

devphaeton (695736) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888004)

In the late 1980s i got busted in the 7th grade using my C= Plus/4 to do my algebra and geometry homework with. I was removed from both classes and had to make them up the following year.

My principal's famous last words:

"You need to learn to do this without a computer. When you grow up and get a job, is your computer going to be there to do your work for you then?"

heh

tech for tech sake (2, Insightful)

miraclemax (702629) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888007)

I think it's a great idea to provide all kids with regular computer access, so long as it's access to something. What I mean is, just handing out computers to kids and hoping osmosis or something will take over and they'll suddenly start weaving technology magic and make the kids learn more is useless and a waste of money.
If they're providing the technology for access to more technology enhanced curriculum or integrating something useful, then It's a very good thing.

Ehhh...Kind of a waste of money (2, Insightful)

mrfibbi (695943) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888024)

I live in the silicon valley, and I went to a middle school that issued all the 6th and 7th graders laptops(for some reason, not the either graders, so I was screwed). The problem with that kind of system is, it ONLY trains the students to be entirely helpless end users, and nothing more, but there's really no way to fix that. The thing is, when you own your own computer, it's YOURS. You can do what you want: install software, put in another OS, set it up as a webserver, program, etc. However, all of that gives the user access to parts of the computer that the network admins of schools don't want them to have. So, all that they end up being able to do is type word documents, surf the net and use AIM durring class, and play nanosaur. Nothing else.

Why? (1, Interesting)

reboot246 (623534) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888035)

From what I've read here and know on my own, it's apparent that most geeks don't favor laptops in the hands of kids at school. If we, who know and love our computers, can see the folly, why the hell can't educators see it?

My brother's wife teaches high school math and 'computers'. She knows nearly nothing about computers even after her "training" and she's the smart one of her group! I have to work on their system all the time after she's fucked it up.

If a kid can't read, write, and do basic math, they are lost. No amount of playing with a computer can help that. Oh, hell, I guess it'll boost their "self esteem".

Oversold and Underused? (4, Interesting)

pbooktebo (699003) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888037)

As a teacher who used a mac in teaching music, I think that they are amazing tools when used in moderation. I do support the use of computers in classrooms, but it is also true that the only technology that really revolutionized education is the blackboard. In the past 100 years, grandiose claims were made for record albums, film strips, movies, TV in classes, etc. Often, the claim has been that teachers will become obsolete.

Larry Cuban, a professor of education at Stanford, has written a book on the subject, "Computers in the classroom: oversold and underused," which is available in .pdf form here:

http://www.hup.harvard.edu/pdf/CUBOVE.pdf

Oh great (1)

bigjnsa500 (575392) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888042)

So when the next worm/virii hits its gonna piss little kiddies off that can't run their Sponge Bob video game.

Book Covers (2, Funny)

Esion Modnar (632431) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888051)

And will they be issued paper book covers, too? I mean, if they put those things around $20 textbooks, man, they better put them on $2000 laptops...

'Cuz, they gotta turn them back in, right?

Teach logical thinking, not laptops. (1)

Thinkit3 (671998) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888055)

Why not just teach them binary, hexadecimal, and logical thinking? Do we need laptops for that?

Hmmmm .... is this really a good idea? (2, Interesting)

anonymous leprechaun (687351) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888061)

This has serious potential of being a serious nuisance. can you say, students not listening. -browsing -games -music -INSTANT MESSENGING! plus the possibility of some guys running exploits on other students machines . id take windows off ... nix (and wine if necessary) ... nonetheless ... i like the idea

don't bother with laptops (2, Insightful)

igotmybfg (525391) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888071)

This is a pet peeve of mine. Why do we think that technology is the way to go in the classroom? More than anything else, it puts a barrier between students, because instead of concentrating on the teacher or on their own little games (which don't help them with school subjects but are equally important in that they help to develop personality) they are watching a screen. The current school environment involves learning both as a group (when the teacher is talking) and individually (when you're at home, reading the textbook). This is a balanced approach. It works. It is not broken.

With that said, as a practical matter, laptops are a bad idea. They are easy to steal. They suffer a lot of wear & tear and break (all you road wariors know this). Anyone ever had an LCD crack? Laptop batteries, just like all other batteries, can only hold a charge for so long. And repairing/replacing them (all the parts, not just the battery) is expensive.

Now, I recommend that instead of trying to fool with all this fancy technology (administering these laptops would be a pain in the ass, too), students just take a pad of paper and a pen. We are really losing something important if we teach these youngsters to be dependent on technology to learn.

Re:don't bother with laptops (1)

JeffTL (667728) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888116)

Blanket luddism is no more the answer than computer education that may really amount to patronising mandatory Google training and forced memorization of IRC slang and the BASIC code for "Hello World." Pens and paper, for all the good press they get on Slashdot from people who think Luddism is cool, are hopelessly ineffective, particularly for those with hopelessly illegible handwriting, obsessive-compulsive notetakers, the disabled, and other populations who are worse off with paper.

populations (2, Informative)

digitalsushi (137809) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888078)

The 19 school districts are: Mascenic Regional; Allenstown (4800); Colebrook (2600); Franklin (8400); Monadnock Regional (23000); Winnisquam Regional; Farmington (6000); Mascoma Valley Regional (12000); Somersworth (11600); Haverhill Cooperative (4100)(Warren, Orford, Haverhill, Bath); Wilton-Lyndeborough (3300); Lisbon (1700); Stratford (900); Milton (3700); Wakefield (3200); Andover (1900); Hillsboro-Deering (4600+1900); Weare (6800); and Thornton (1600).

hi, nh kid living in an actual city here... just like to point out those are like... really small. did it even say how many laptops they're getting? 1.2 million over 800 bucks a laptop is 1500 laptops. the above list adds up to just about 100k people, so how many of those are 7th graders? 1.5 percent?

Are laptops more expensive than desktops? (2, Insightful)

ChreodeRiot (598573) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888082)

I think it's a good idea to put computers in schools, but I see giving some students laptops as opposed to having a compter class with maybe twice as many desktops stations as a real mistake (analogous to the NEA giving 10 artist $1 million instead of 1000 artists $10,000). It just seems like won't really address the fact that ALL students are going to need to have a computer education and if they don't they might as well get a shoe shine kit now and get to work.

We need to get back to basics... (2, Insightful)

Crolis (697068) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888124)

A competent teacher can teach give a piece of chalk, a blackboard, a textbook and an eraser. Money for education should be used to support a highly trained teacher profession who has excellent grasp of the subject matter to be taught.

Most primary and elementary school students need to be educated in the basics before they are able to
tackle the literate medium of the Internet.

We used to produce many engineers and scientists and put men on the moon when we weren't falling into this PC trendy educational experiement. I seem to recall that those scientists and engineers did well with the phonics, sentence diagramming, and long division worked out on paper, not a calculator.

The reason why our kids can't read and perform math without a calculator is that the modern educational system hand-holds them through the things that they need to learn.

My 2 cents,

-Crolis

Efficiency (3, Insightful)

swtaarrs (640506) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888136)

I've seen lots of posts with people complaining about how laptops aren't any more efficient/better/sexier/etc than pen and paper, but let's look at the facts: In today's instant messaging filled world, many kids can type 50wpm or more. Show me someone who can write at 50wpm. No matter how fast you move your hand, it's just not physically possible to form letters using a pen as quickly as tapping the letters on a keyboard. For this reason alone, kids could spend more time thinking about their ideas and less time writing them down/typing them.

Danger! (3, Funny)

jkabbe (631234) | more than 10 years ago | (#6888149)

I wonder what kind of laptops will be issued. Physical fitness classes are on their way out and we wouldn't want the kids throwing their back out lugging around a Dell.
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