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Arizona School Won't Use Textbooks

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the listen-to-the-hardware-manus-salivate dept.

491

Some Guy writes "A high school in Vail will become the state's first all-wireless, all-laptop public school this fall. The 350 students at the school will not have traditional textbooks. Instead, they will use electronic and online articles as part of more traditional teacher lesson plans."

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Finally! (3, Insightful)

jhylkema (545853) | more than 9 years ago | (#13036993)

Textbook sales are a racket worthy of the Gambino family.

Racket! (5, Interesting)

pin_gween (870994) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037218)

In college they definitely are. Where I teach (NC), however, we don't buy books for a year (or worse, a semester) then try and get $3 at the end. We buy our books for 5 years. It is expensive as hell initially and when books are lost/destroyed. However, $65 for a book that lasts 5 years is not too much to expect taxpayers to pay.

Additionally, competition between publishers is fierce; thus textbook companies "comp" us extras like test banks, lcd projectors, informational cd's etc. I know the price of these freebies is inherent in the book cost, but...

It is a HELLUVA lot easier to get a kid to fork up $65 for a book than the $850 for laptops. What happens when someone steals the laptop? Not too many people look to jack you for a textbook.

What if they decide to keep the laptop for themselves? This is not a private school where the cost is absorbed in tuition, this taxpayer money. Add the cost of maintenance on the computers and I see this as a short lived experiment -- one dropped bookbag and you need another $850.

A local university tried this at one school in the district checked out 30 laptops to a class. Only half of them were returned and/or usable.

The Dog (4, Funny)

Valiss (463641) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037000)

So now, when someone says, "The dog ate my homework," they'll actually mean, "The Dog virus ate my homework!"

Re:The Dog (1)

appavi (679094) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037206)

Now famous windows blue screen may be an excuse to home work.

about time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13037001)

This should have started happening in schools years ago.

Re:about time (2, Insightful)

JaxWeb (715417) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037227)

This should have started happening in schools years ago.

Why?

There isn't really any advantage in learning from a computer. In fact, most people won't like it as much because physical books are easier to read. If you don't understand something it is much easier to read and reread a text book than to read and reread a PDF document. The article only mentions that they don't want teachers teaching straight from textbooks anymore. I'm not sure what is stopping them teaching straight from the computer material.

I've really no idea why this is considered a good thing. I like computer and so forth but still I wouldn't want this. I've been given a Physics CD-ROM from school but still use the text book for everything.

And think of the cost! There aren't so many people at this school though so that isn't so bad.

Vail is in Colorado! (0)

DarthBrian (800440) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037002)

nuff said.

Re:Vail is in Colorado! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13037038)

Ah, yes, I forgot, only one state may use a city's name. Damned Portland!

Re:Vail is in Colorado! (3, Informative)

not-real-sure (859388) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037078)

If you bothered to RTFA you would see that there is a Vail Arizona. Also a little research and you would come up with http://www.vail.k12.az.us/ [k12.az.us]

Re:Vail is in Colorado! (1)

DarthBrian (800440) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037203)

Yeah, I goofed up. Born in AZ, I had never heard of Vail. Me bad!

Re:Vail is in Colorado! (1)

Guano_Jim (157555) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037093)

Not this Vail. [google.com]

Laptop school (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13037003)

Yawn. Didn't we just have an article about kids getting criminal charges for installing software on their state provided notebooks? This ain't news anymore folks, its the trend becoming mainstream.

so... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13037005)

this is "more traditional" how?

Their school motto: (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13037007)


"Staring into a computer screen is like staring into an eclipse. It's brilliant and you don't realize the damage until its too late"

What's wrong with textbooks? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13037014)

All the money is being spent on "tech in schools". At the end of the day, a bad teacher will be bad given a set of textbooks or laptops. Imo, this money should go towards more teacher training/more teachers.

Re:What's wrong with textbooks? (3, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037104)

> All the money is being spent on "tech in schools". At the end of the day, a bad teacher will be bad given a set of textbooks or laptops. Imo, this money should go towards more teacher training/more teachers.

The previous slashdot post contains material on teaching. Teaching is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of knowledge. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.

Re:What's wrong with textbooks? (1)

gsfprez (27403) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037131)

no - it should stay where it is... in paying MSCEs to keep this POS laptops up and running.

The laptops cost $850 each, and the district will hand them to 350 Empire High School students for the entire year. in California, i'm strongly concidering quitting a high-paying job at a major defense firm to go be a lazy-ass administrator pulling down over 6 figures in the Los Angeles or surrounding area school districts. These people make shitloads of money, and all they have to do is constantly keep the computers upgraded with the latest virus definitions.. they email servers don't actually work, and the systems don't actually accomplish very much - but all the administrators have great computers and can surf with them all day just fine.

with LASUSD spending over $11k/child/year, its no wonder that they can afford to pay for Windows Adminsitrators a fsckton of money.

Re:What's wrong with textbooks? (1)

runenfool (503) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037237)

I wonder how well MCSEs are going to do with a fleet of white iBooks? Because thats what these are.

Re:What's wrong with textbooks? (1, Redundant)

centauri (217890) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037141)

Won't a bad teacher still be relatively bad given the same training as good teachers? Won't a new batch of teachers contain the same percentage (if not higher) of bad teachers? Even if we put money in to raising teacher salaries, hoping to attract better teachers away from other careers, won't we also attract a lot of bad teachers looking for a relatively easy buck?

Re:What's wrong with textbooks? (1)

climbon321 (874929) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037165)

I'm not sure that I think doing away with textbooks in exchange for all digital articles is such a good idea.

It seems that people have the mindset that when they are behind a computer screen to just scan over text rather than reading it thourgly.

I know personally if I had to do readings for school on a computer screen I would retain much less knowledge than if I was reading out of a book. Do other people feel the same way about this?

Umm... vision? (5, Interesting)

JossiRossi (840900) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037022)

How many of us stare at a laptop screen for hours on end? How many of us realize how bad that is after a few days straight of doing it? LCD screens may not have the refresh rate issues, but still this can't bode well for the children's vision. Although optomitrists will likely be excited.

Re:Umm... vision? (1)

denissmith (31123) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037111)

Agreed. Anything over a page and I print it out and read the hard copy. This upside of the switch is the students will possibly get improved research skills, and a variety of voices on issues under study. The downside is likely to be increased ADD, poor eyesight and a variety of voice on issues under study.

Re:Umm... vision? (3, Insightful)

rwven (663186) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037116)

they'll be about as far away from their eyes as the books they were reading last year... i highly doubt this will be an issue...

Re:Umm... vision? (1)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037118)

I'm curious as to what properties LCD screens possess that make them more harmful to look at than, say, paper (since this is a replacement for traditional paper-based books).

Costs are brutal! (3, Funny)

darth_MALL (657218) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037024)

Ruining a laptop is so much more expensive than wrecking a textbook. Plus how are you supposed to draw mustaches and balls on all the pictures for the next class to see?

Re:Costs are brutal! (2, Insightful)

NetNifty (796376) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037058)

"Plus how are you supposed to draw mustaches and balls on all the pictures for the next class to see?"

Hack the server with the "text book" stored on?

Re:Costs are brutal! (1)

runenfool (503) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037266)

Yea, thats why the parents can just pay for Apple's insurance on the things. I don't remember the exact number, but its something like 50 bucks.

Mistake (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13037026)

Yet another step in the downward spiral of the American educational system. For God's sake, it's been proven that kids learn better from a real, material book as opposed to off computer screens.

I'm sure kids will be able to focus really well reading off screens as opposed to real books. :-|

Re:Mistake (1)

rovingeyes (575063) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037214)

For God's sake, it's been proven that kids learn better from a real, material book as opposed to off computer screens.

Excellent...I'd like to read more (electronically). Care to provide a link to not only inform us but also backup your claim?

Re:Mistake (1)

Cromac (610264) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037256)

For God's sake, it's been proven that kids learn better from a real, material book as opposed to off computer screens.

Where has it been proven that kids learn better from books than computers? I'm not terribly surprised to hear it, but where are the tests and study results that proove it?

Go Arizona! (1)

EmperorKagato (689705) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037030)

Now only if the entire United States High School Curriculum was similar to Arizona's big move.

We are way behind other nations and this a great move to help us catch up.

Re:Go Arizona! (3, Insightful)

cato kaze (770158) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037095)

What does technology, in the form of laptops, have to do with a good education? As a HS senior, the most productive learning experiance I've had has come from quality teachers that have an intrest in teaching rather than just moving students through the system and crunching points. I'd feel a whole lot better of my school put more money into training and acquiring good teachers that some nearly useless technology that is just a crutch.

Re:Go Arizona! (1)

cynic pi (751990) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037233)

Now only if the entire United States High School Curriculum was similar to Arizona's

This has got to be the first time I've ever heard someone say they wish the whole country would model themselves to Arizona academically, and I've been here since 1982. See department of education [ed.gov] Seriously, I went to 2 different relatively rural schools for high school, and didn't know students could learn a language other than spanish or english, had computer programming in school, and could have classes like psycology, or philosophy in secondary school.

Arizona is NO gold standard.

meanwhile, in kansas... (5, Funny)

avi33 (116048) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037031)

Plans are underway to do away with all science books except for one [amazon.com] .

Re:meanwhile, in kansas... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13037139)

You're an ass.

Re:meanwhile, in kansas... (1)

theurge14 (820596) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037287)

We Kansans appreciate the humor, we also appreciate our students scoring higher than the national average on ACT science scores [act.org] , as well as reading and math.

/another ultra-defensive flyover stater //laptops in the classroom?

No Match for books. (3, Insightful)

sacbhale (216624) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037035)

This should be an interesting experiment.
I have had computers for years and I use them extensively to learn things but I have found that they are no match for good old books. Books are so much convenient to use.
I think it is unwise to completely eliminate the books from clasrooms. It would be great to augment the books with online resources. But replacing them completely seems to be a dumb move.

Re:No Match for books. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13037143)

I completely agree. Instead of spending all that money on obsolete-in-six-months hardware, they could be training teachers. Instead of spending the time fixing laptop problems, they could be teaching students.

Really bright! Doh!

When will people realize that putting a child in front of a computer doesn't make him smarter. Learning is hard. It takes experience to teach. Since when does edutainment make learning easier?

I bet the students will spend most of their time creating powerpoint presentations and graphics instead of actually learning how to solve problems and think critically...

Re:No Match for books. (1)

dracocat (554744) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037231)

Here here. Even though I work with computers all day long and have constant access, when it comes time to learn something new I will always head to the bookstore or amazon.com.

EPaper (2, Insightful)

kidtux1 (896975) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037039)

This textbook less classroom will begin to happen more and more once epaper finally comes to fruition. I know I would have loved to be able to download my books instead of having to buy a $200 text book for my college classes.

Re:EPaper (3, Insightful)

Dr. Evil (3501) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037100)

I'm sure they'll still charge $200, only now it will be for a 1 year license rather than this year's edition.

Re:EPaper (1)

JVert (578547) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037176)

Yea, I was just going to say its now $199 but you can't sell it as used next year. Nor can you buy a used version.

Re:EPaper (2, Insightful)

Tsiangkun (746511) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037161)

I'm so glad I was able to figure out how use a library card in college.

Most students never figured out that the texts books were available to be checked out. Library late fees are a joke compared to the cost of buying the books.

Re:EPaper (1)

centauri (217890) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037212)

There's also selling the book later to recoup some losses (or to make a buck if your books fell under a scholarship, as mine did), but my professors kept talking about how glad we'd be later that we'd kept our books, because we'd find ourselves wanting to refer back to them. I haven't found myself doing that for anything other than a few laughs, but I have co-workers who have bookshelves full of their old references and pull them out all the time.

Re:EPaper (1)

gabebear (251933) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037220)

I KNOW!!!!!

I just wish I could afford a Sony Librie [dynamism.com] and get my textbooks for it!!! I plunked down $150 for used textbooks for one accounting class this summer.

To me it would have made more sense to get the students $500 imported Sony Libries, than $850 laptops to goof off on...

New Excuses! (0, Redundant)

kryogen1x (838672) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037042)

Teacher: Tonight's assignment can be found on the main page of Slashdot.

the next day...

Teacher: Can I see your homework?

Student: My dog ate- er, the article was a dupe, so I couldn't do it.

Teacher: groan...

I Don't Know About This (1)

00 Agent Kid (833256) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037054)

First of all, the cost of such equipment would be very great, even for only 300 or so students. Secondly, a lot of students will easily be able to goof off and play games, etc. when using them.

That, and you don't have to worry about downed servers, adware, viruses, and the like in textbooks.

MAC or PC (1)

nephertiti (700008) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037059)

I wonder what type of laptop they will get? Where my kids go to school it is all mac.

Cost (1)

jmazzi (869663) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037062)

So will students still have to pay anything then?

You've got to be kidding. (5, Interesting)

pudding7 (584715) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037070)

400 high school kids running around with laptops?

My screen is broken
My battery died
My S key won't work
I dropped it
I lost it
I lost the cables
It won't turn on
I spilled soda on it
The wireless access point is down
The network is down
My wireless card broke
I can't log in
I forgot my password
I locked myself out
I deleted all my icons
Billy deleted all my icons

What an administration nightmare. Blah. Good luck with this little project.

Re:You've got to be kidding. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13037160)

Power cut, 1-3h on battery. Schools out!

I might use my laptop or another PC 12h a day, but the feel of a decent paper book.. mm. Nothing much goes past in reading/education-wise. I'm still preferring the real thing to PDFs etc most of the time when I'm in need of learning a new subject. The bigger concern for me is the lack of knowledge on what books are and how to reference them etc. Ok they will all be digitised some day, but still...

Re:You've got to be kidding. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13037286)


My screen is broken
My battery died
My S key won't work
I dropped it
I lost it
I lost the cables
It won't turn on
I spilled soda on it
The wireless access point is down
The network is down
My wireless card broke
I can't log in
I forgot my password
I locked myself out
I deleted all my icons
Billy deleted all my icons


Reply: "Too bad." x 16.

More wifi for me! (2, Funny)

activesynapsis (706402) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037074)

I live a mile away from that school, now I'll have all the wifi access I can handle.

Lack of vision not enought hind sight (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13037076)

I can see this plagued with problems. where will most of the data be stored?

1) What happens if you have internet connectivity issue before a test (night before).
2) What happens when a web link gets out dated and you cannot reference it during your studies.
3) Viruses and worms do bad things.
4) Managing the secuirty on the laptops.
5) File corruption.

Well, all the problems listed above can actually prepare a student for the real world in an office built around MS technology.

Re:Lack of vision not enought hind sight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13037128)

Right, because #1, #2, #4, and #5 never happen on Linux/Mac boxes.

Give me a fucking break. Go compile a kernel or something.

Arizona high tech innovations (1)

RollTissue (896833) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037077)

Lots of high tech 1st's coming from Arizona, ie, The University of Phoenix [uofphxdegrees.com] was one of the first schools to offer a completely 100% online degree.

Great (1)

JeiFuRi (888436) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037079)

I say this is a very good thing, for the students at least. First and most obviously, a ~6 pound laptop beats a ~16 pound pile of textbooks. Also, you'll notice the inherent benefits of ebooks, such as quick searching, hyperlinks to related articles, etc. Laptops are also more, um, motivating than books in that a student can conduct research that much faster and easier.

Re:Great (1)

rerunn (181278) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037124)


you'll notice the inherent benefits of ebooks, such as quick searching, hyperlinks to related articles, etc.

These will also be the greatest distractions to the kids.

Re:Great (1)

JeiFuRi (888436) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037168)

At least they won't be putting gum under the table anymore.

My deepest fear: text changing on the fly (5, Insightful)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037083)

Imagin the power government will weld when they can change education text of our children on the fly to suit the preveiling views of the government.

Re:My deepest fear: text changing on the fly (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13037188)

Maybe they can improve spelling education!

Re:My deepest fear: text changing on the fly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13037267)

to suit the preveiling views of the government.

insightful typo

hmmm...problems (1)

rwven (663186) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037086)

1) who's paying for these laptops? Taxpayers no doubt... 2) All-wireless network + destructive teen-boy hackers = disastrous combination 3) How many of these laptops do they actually expect to survive the whole school year? Kids these days run in the door and throw their bookbag up against the wall on the way to the Xbox... 4) Security? Spyware? Adware? Viruses? That's my $0.02

If you had asked me (3, Informative)

Approaching.sanity (889047) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037089)

A year ago I would have told you that this sort of thing is far fetched and implausible. Since then I have moved to a Laptop University that is connected to several online databases and online journals. I regularily write five to ten page research papers from the comfort of my dorm room.

The future of learning is in information being availible everywhere. This school will prove it.

Re:If you had asked me (1)

Approaching.sanity (889047) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037120)

Also the future is in spell check being available.

Laptop Vs Books cost (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037097)

It'd be interesting to see the cost of a laptop put up against a book. If the school could get a sponsor to supply a tablet pc, even a med/low end one (not like it need's to be able to play games) you could get a them for a relatively low price. If you can get say 8 years out of them (2 complete US highschool cycles) you're looking at a relatively low hardware cost over time. Then it's a matter of e-book licensing. I'm not sure on HS book prices, but even some of my crappy papper back books from college were well over $100 each.

Some classes this would be worth it, like advanced science, tech related classes, current soc/hist classes. When the subject matter changes so much that a textbook needs to be replaced in less the 4 years, it get's very costly.

Some not so much, literary classics don't change, and that run the school bought 20 years ago (albeit beat to hell) is probrably still in an acceptable condition.

-Rick

Re:Laptop Vs Books cost (1)

chill (34294) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037284)

Considering most textbooks have college professors listed as authors, and how infrequently the subject matter in many subjects change, why aren't there tons of freely available electionic cirricula and textbooks?

This was one of those things I always wanted to do if I won a truckload of money in a lottery. Hire some qualified people to write textbooks in subjects that don't change a lot and own all the rights. Then, make them freely available to all comers in electronic version.

-Charles

Let us hope not all schools do this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13037102)

cause there are some parents who are opposed to their children using this type of technology. I know how stupid this sounds, but it's true, even if on a small scale.

Alter-universe (4, Informative)

Dark Coder (66759) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037108)

Top 10 things you're likely to hear shortly after the bell.

10. Canius Virii ate my homework.
9. Not now, I'm IM'ing with my broker
8. Press me and I'll press this button erasing your server
7. Road crew didn't blog their detours.
6. PDF Midterms -- Fresh off the teacher's home server, send $$ to PayPal.
5. Check out Mr. Crabapple's latest decline at RateMyTeacher.Com
4. Acrobat Reader is crashing... I couldn't bone up on it overnite.
3. Microsoft locked out PDF in favor of XML. Do you have an XML reader?
2. Not enough memstick-space
1. I can't read.

Look out for... (2, Funny)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037110)

TPAA!

Textbook Publishers Association of America. Yeah, I made it up, but we simply cannot allow for progress against an old business models. Trifles innovation, hurts the authors, and leaves the suits worried.

what a dumb idea (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13037121)

"hey, let's replace $60 worth of books with $600 worth of fragile computer gear. I'm sure no one will drop one or anything."

Double-take (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13037125)

"Arizona School Won't Use Textbooks"... I read, and mentally completed "because they teach evolution." The scary thing is, my imaginary headline could easily be real. USA, USA, what happened to you?

English classes should use paper for literature (2, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037133)

E-books are great for things that change a lot, like science, and are good for things that are amiable to hyperlinks, such as information about Shakespear.

However, when it comes to plain old literature, like Shakespear's works, paper-in-hand is a much more pleasing experience than laptop-on-lap.

Sure, have annotated, hyperlinked copies of Romeo and Juliet on the computer, but for goodness sake give those kids an actual book to read if they want one.

Re:English classes should use paper for literature (1)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037245)

However, when it comes to plain old literature, like Shakespear's works, paper-in-hand is a much more pleasing experience than laptop-on-lap.

I agree! One of my favorite things is to grab a paperback and go out under a tree to read on a nice warm day. If everything changes to an e-text, exactly at what tree can a laptop be plugged in?

And the feel of a book in my hands feels good. It is not to heavy to lift over my head, to lean back and read. I like the feel of flipping pages. With a laptop, my head would be looking down at the screen, i could not lift it over my head as i take a leasurly laid-back read.

And wait to see what will happen to eyesight after these kids graduate. We should keep track to see how much damage to vision is done from 4 years of extra and intense laptop monitor viewing, and compare it to a traditional school.

And with VoIP and cameras... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13037142)

they can outsource the teaching jobs to India. Imagine how much cheaper those teachers are! We finally can pay the administrators what they deserve!

I've a bad feeling about this. (4, Insightful)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037146)

Why does my '25 years in IT' brain shudder at the prospect of this? In a nanosecond the following flashed through my consciousness:

Dropped it, flat batteries, can't see it in the sun, viruses, forgot to backup, stolen, central server outage, corrupt file, server cracked, can't type that fast, wifi down, wifi overloaded, forgot my password, not enough power sockets in the room, pulled off desk by someone tripping over power cable, broken keycaps, spilled drink on it, fighting for printer time, someone took my USB memory stick, unauthorised upgrade...I'm going pale at the thought!

Re:I've a bad feeling about this. (1)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037232)

I remember a friend of mine in high school telling every teacher he had that he had an iMac at home and as such couldn't take home any of the writing he had done in the labs at school to work on at home (we only had floppy disks). He didn't, but nobody ever questioned him.

Need Paper (2, Insightful)

bhive01 (832162) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037147)

I don't know about everyone else, but LCD or not I can't stand to read anything longer than a slashdot article (or its impending dupe!) on a screen. I have to have paper.

Apparently, school boards in Texas will be... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13037157)

...approving motherboard layouts and peripheral choices and these new special school laptops will cost appox 7500 dollars.

What about Content? (3, Insightful)

PogieMT (668493) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037159)

It seems like the superintendent promoting this and many of the posts here are ignoring a fundamental problem: content. While it is nice to write about how great e-texts would be, it's not as if publishers are going to give that material away, even if it exists. So the cost of textbooks will still be there. Additionally, the answer to better education away from the textbook doesn't seem to be taking away books, which, as it turns out, can be valuable resources. The answer would seem to be giving teachers better training and forcing them to be accountable. In my experience as a teacher, the answer has never been a different avenue for transmittal of information, it has been a better transmitter.

Computers Degrade Academic Performance (3, Interesting)

Sigfried (779148) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037180)

The folks in Vail have obviously not read this slashdot article [slashdot.org] about the correlation between computer usage in the classroom and a degradation of academic performance.

Wikipedia (1)

LGagnon (762015) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037183)

Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] should be somewhat useful in getting alternative views into the classroom that hadn't been covered in the past. Let's hope this weakens the anti-evolution and global warming denier crowd.

e-"learning" (0, Flamebait)

k-zed (92087) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037184)

Do they teach the "theory" of creationism?

Horrible Idea... (4, Interesting)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037186)

The laptops cost $850 each, and the district will hand them to 350 Empire High School students for the entire year. The fast-growing district hopes to have 750 students at the new high school eventually. A set of textbooks runs about $500 to $600, Baker said.

First, if the laptops are $850, don't also forget to add the tech support that will be required for each laptop. Will students be able to take the laptops home? What if one gets a virus, and infects the others. What if a few students decide to destroy all the laptops. In a wireless community, that can be done. Yet, it would be impossible to burn all the books.

Add to the list of concers, that Ferenhite 451 is comming. No more books. No more written records. Students will start using only computers, and trust the content as accurate. I can see in one years curriculum "we are going to war because of weapons of mass destruction". Next year the laptop says "we went to war to liberate a people from a ruthless dictator". If the first sentance was in the book, it could not be erased, and students would ask "what? why? how did it change?".

And what about lost laptops? What is a more attractive target to steal? Laptops or books? I know on college campuses, people try and steal books, to sell them back to the bookstore for $20. Now imagine something worth 10 times as much.

This is a bad idea for so many reasons. It will raise costs per student for the school to operate. Either students will have to pay, or the property tax will increase. Laptops are more vulnerable to 14-17 year olds for thieft and malicious viruses.

And how good is it for the eyes? Most of my friends who spend 6+ hours in front of a computer have bad eyes by the time they hit 25ish.

Something tells me (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037190)

that printers and cartridges will become a hot item there. The kids will be using some pretty big fonts after a few months of this. The optemetrists should get busy also.

Huge Mistake (2, Insightful)

hungrygrue (872970) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037193)

Great. now the kids won't read a damn thing. As long as they can just search the text, they won't even have to do a half assed skim of it to find answers. Say goodby to what attention span they have.

Eye strain and fatigue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13037201)

I dunno.. I think this is a bad idea.
I prefer paper over a screen. Doesn't strain your eyes after a couple of hours.

Info on Vail (1)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037205)

It has a total population of less than 2500 people, it is 20 miles outside of Tucson, and the public high school there has only about 1000 students total. Oh, and try to find it on Google maps [google.com] .

Re:Info on Vail (1)

Shag (3737) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037283)

Vail is apparently also a fairly good place to be into astronomy, if one local resident [jarnac.org] is any indication.

Smaller scale: Community HS, Ann Arbor, MI '94-95 (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13037216)

In the 1994-1995 school year, Community High School [k12.mi.us] of Ann Arbor, MI issued many if not all of its students with laptops.

They didn't replace books, but they let the students do some things in Science and other classes that would've been hard without laptops.

For more information, see the Sciece Department's [k12.mi.us] web page.

Hmm (1)

certel (849946) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037236)

Man, people are going to turn into non-social zombies in 20 years.

FINALLY!!! (1)

nightcrawler.36 (892551) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037243)

It's happening--my evil plan is finally working. Soon, I will rule the universe!! MUA HA HA HA HA!!! Seriously! I was so happy to read this. It only makes sense to use laptops. I realize that not all schools will be able to afford it yet, but it's a start. Now If I can only convince my boss that I'm more productive working at home on my laptop than in his "rented" office building--his loss... this is good news.

Welcome RSI! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13037253)

Why laptops? Why not desktops with LCD monitors?
Laptops are not designed for long hours of operation. See this article [com.com]
I am the guy the article is talking about.
I know how painful it is.

Will the seating be egonomic?
Will the students be educated in healthy computing?

These questions need to be answered before jumping to the use of laptops instead of text books, or else we will have hundreds of 10 yr olds with painful hands and necks.

Where is the content coming from? (3, Interesting)

KoReE (4358) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037257)

I think it's a great idea, but where is the content coming from? Is there any board that's looking over the content to make sure it is sufficient? Not that schools can't do that themselves, but I know many states have strict guidelines for their textbooks, and I'd be curious to see how these online books/articles compare...

So Little Material (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13037259)

As someone who just came off of a 4-year "one-on-one" iBook program in Henrico County, I can tell you that there is NO MATERIAL available online or in software form that takes the place of books. PERIOD. Teacher's arn't there to CREATE, they are there to inspire and present the material. Some of my best teachers used the book 100% and gave out the book's quizes and tests. Now that's all gone away.

The laptop initiatives are FLAWED from the get-go, and no matter how you dress it up, it's going to be a failure.

reliable sources... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13037269)

Great! Now they can learn from reliable sources such as wikipedia!

Reasons not to. (2, Interesting)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037273)

1) Dropping a book versus dropping a laptop. Which will survive?
2) Power surges.
3) Do I have to buy my own electricity over spring and winter vacations?
4) Eye problems.
5) Eye problems.
6) See above.
7) People don't steal textbooks if left someplace. But someone definitely will if it's a laptop.
8) May I remind you of 4-6? (Someone else mentioned this in another post, but eye problems with monitors is such a problem.)
9) Computer malfunctions. Homework completely lost. Do it on paper? The move from paper books to laptops will make that more difficult. Try having a laptop next to you and a paper to the side of it. Writing surfaces.

Not a good thing (2, Insightful)

mjkjedi (717711) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037275)

I'm sorry, I think this is a lousy idea. Other people have commented about the dangers of giving a schoolful of kids expensive laptops, but there's something else: it SUCKS to read tons of text on a screen.

I (obviously) like computers, and I read tons of technical documentation online, since it's usually extremely interconnected, and hyperlinks help. But if I'm reading something that's pretty much linear (TFA didn't mention the structure of these "online articles", so I may be wrong there), or when I don't need to have a terminal window open at the same time to try out commands and whatnot, I prefer a printed page.

It's easier to move around and get comfortable with any reasonably sized book than with a laptop. (It's not just weight I'm talking about -- consider availability of AC power, glare, etc.)

I'm taking a class over the summer, and it's annoying me that one of the books hasn't been printed up -- instead we just go to the author's web site and download the PDF. I'd have gladly paid printing costs to get a bound meatspace copy.

I just think printed copies should always be an option.

eye problems (1)

sysopd (617656) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037278)

Will the students be given free eye healthcare to cover the cost of corrective lenses?

This is a pretty bad idea that stems from the belief that you can throw technology at a problem and fix it. In this case, give the kids laptops and they'll get smarter. Don't get me wrong, laptops/computers/other technologies used in conjunction with other tools is a good idea. I'd suggest using the right tool for the job which would result in a helpful exposure to a variety of
learning tools- be it book or notebook.

This is a terrible idea (3, Insightful)

jim_v2000 (818799) | more than 9 years ago | (#13037281)

Whoever thought the idea of give laptops to highschoolers must never have worked with any. I remember from my days in highschool. The kids are a destructive force. If it can be broken or stolen, it will be. I mean, seriously, how long until these things start getting stolen and showing up on Ebay? How do they prevent that from happening? Also, how do you stop some hormonely charged punk from getting mad and throwing a laptop on the ground? You know that it won't take but a day for some kid to forget that he's got a laptop in his backpack when he's throwing it in his locker. Books on the other hand don't break, and aren't hot items to sell. (College books are another story)

Plus I can see all kinds of new excuses...like I got a virus! Or my batteries died! Or Windows crashed/Clippy ate my paper! Books don't lose power, don't get virus, don't crash.

In the end, considering the group in questions (Highschoolers) books seem like the better solution. Plus, if a system isn't broken, why fix it? Books have been working for a long time, and can for a long time to come.

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