Online sites-online sites for children – New York Times
- Quote: My daughter lives in two worlds. In one, she is the same small person I
have always known, the one who chews on the end of her braid when she
reads. But in the other, her imagination runs wild as she plays online
at the kidsâ€™ social network sites where she and many of her friends
recently persuaded their parents to open accounts for them.
Note: Social networking for younger kids can be difficult for parents to understand…
– post by willrich
Some Schools Drop Laptop Programs – New York Times
- Quote: The students at Liverpool High have used their school-issued laptops to exchange answers on tests, download pornography and hack into local businesses. When the school tightened its network security, a 10th grader not only found a way around it but also posted step-by-step instructions on the Web for others to follow (which they did)…So the Liverpool Central School District, just outside Syracuse, has decided to phase out laptops starting this fall, joining a handful of other schools around the country that adopted one-to-one computing programs and are now abandoning them as educationally empty â€” and worse.
Note: There are so many potential reasons for this, but the basic reason is because learning with technology is simply not a systemic part of the K-12 curriculum. It’s not a part of the way we do business. Instead, it’s something we try to make work at certain times for certain purposes. And even then, we don’t fully understand the implications and potentials of the tools. Not surprising…is it?
– post by willrich
Jamie Britto says
I’m not surprised either. I’ve been a believer in student-centered constructivist learning for over a dozen years now and I haven’t ever seen a time when a top down decision to drop a large quantity of any technology help reach those ends. If the objectives and schedules remain the same, much of the outcomes will also remain the same too. Nancy Atwell’s â€œIn the Middleâ€ was my first introduction to this approach, and while technology helped reach those goals, it wasn’t required. I think the struggle to revise learning is more about teachers’ belief systems than it is about any equipment.
On a more practical, economic note, providing laptops to every student always seemed to me to be pushing a supply slide solution to a demand side problem. In an ideal setting, demand and supply are in balance.
Carolyn Foote says
I ranted about this on my blog today(this was my lunchtime reading, which wasn’t very relaxing!)–I was disappointed that the article didn’t cover more of the success stories, or convey that schools need to get these problems worked out as laptops become more affordable.
It just seems like we already have an uphill battle getting schools to innovate and articles like this that just portray the difficulties, make our jobs even more difficult.
I agree with Carolyn about the negative spin that seems to be going on lately, not just about technology in education, but about education in general. The first 8 minutes of my local news last night was all negative press about various things going on in schools- including something about the fear of college students using ipods to cheat on finals! I went to youtube last week just to browse around, and most of the clips tagged education that I ran across were negative “what’s wrong with education” type things:( Makes me sad sometimes….
Living near the Liverpool school district, we’ve heard a lot about their laptop program. It was big news when it first started just as it was when it ended. The one thing we never heard much about was whatever training might be given to the teachers to support this program and interestingly, on the NY Times website, it takes until page three to see anything at all mentioned about teacher training. Kids are going to use any tool for other than educational purposes unless they are taught how the tool benefits them. If the laptop was a distraction, then I can only wonder what teacher training was involved in the first place.
Scott McLeod says
Will, I just sent this article to you. I should’ve checked your blog first!
Yes, the teacher training issue is a big question in my mind. Also, not much was said in the article about pedagogical uses of the tools. If they were just using the laptops to do the same thing they would have done before the laptops arrived, then the decision to dump them because of financial concerns was quite rational. Sad, but rational. Wish they could have seen the learning transformations that COULD have occurred (and that are occurring in many other laptop districts, I believe).
Note also the perspective that laptops are a cost, not an investment.
Final thought: if individuals at home can see the transformative effects of digital technologies, and corporations can see the transformative effects of digital technologies, why can’t schools? Are they just incompetent, dunder-headed organizations compared to other institutions or is something else going on? In other words, why WOULDN’T schools see the same transformative effects of technology that we’re seeing in most other sectors of society?
Carolyn Foote says
Exactly right. That’s what I was ranting about on my blog–it seems like there are almost concerted efforts to disprove the validity of technology for schools, but you don’t see people doing that in the business world. They accept that technology is a natural, helpful and innovative tool and it’s a basic part of the workplace–so why are we still asking these questions in education??
Tim Goree says
This article created a big “hoopla” on the CETPA (California Educational Technology Professionals Association) list serve yesterday. It’s kind of frightening how many folks in important technology positions in schools were just waiting for something like this to happen so they could say “I told you so” about the laptop programs.
I think it is important to note a few things about the article in general. First, the laptops that I saw in the pictures were IBM Thinkpads, which is not a problem from an equipment perspective, but personal experience and others that I have talked to agree that computer maker is far from “helpful” when it comes to providing training and solutions for this type of program. Second, from a number of comments made in the article, and more importantly, many things that weren’t said in the article, it’s fairly clear to me that training from a curriculum integration standpoint was pretty lacking.
Finally, the entire article shows pretty bluntly how expectations for a 1:1 laptop program are often unrealistic for the outcomes. My post on our CETPA list serve follows, and it was followed by a number of responses that showed a complete misunderstanding of the point I was trying to get a across. Let me know what you think, but I thought it was a pretty clear critique of our overall system of education in this country (not individual teacher and administrators necessarily).
From my post:
“If the goal is to get kids up to basic standard levels, then maybe laptops are not the
tool. But if the goal is to create the George Lucas and Steve Jobs of
the future, then laptops are extremely useful.”
Indeed – this is the thing, isn’t it? Our goal (at this time) is definitely to get kids to basic standard levels. The need for innovative thinkers in our country is growing continuously, and the education system’s goals are not in line with that need. The popularity of the 1 to 1 idea stems from, I think, the need to change the goals of our education system. The problem is that those goals have to be changed via legislation from the top down. No amount of technology purchasing or training is going to change the goals of the system, and you can do a great job of using the technology to teach the kids how to think and innovate, but if all of your assessment tools assess for “basic standard levels”, then progress toward the goal will certainly look limited.
This sort of thing really concerns me – when is this country going to get it’s priorities straight regarding education?
John Brandt says
This article resulted in some active conversation on the ACTEM listserv here in Maine. I was surprised with the responses of two individuals who actually thought this might be a precursor to what will happen in Maine should state funding dry up – in their opinion a real possibility. I re-read the article and then blogged a better-crafted response.
The article basically cites a number of different reasons for disatisfaction with their various laptop programs…poor tech services…defective hardware…the inability to show increases in test scores. And yes there was clearly problems with many of the teachers and their behavior – so they should share a good deal of the blame.
But as one of my ACTEM colleagues noted, the article really demonstrated what a lack of leadership can do to a technology program.
This article enraged me! As a teacher at a laptop initiative school, I have to say that design is the key! You can’t throw anything at a problem and expect it to be fixed, which is what we consistently do in education. Proper implementation requires an intentional, well-thought out process, including teacher training on technology and project-based learning as well as the infrastructure to support such an endeavor. Keep throwing things at education, and all you will do is throw it away.
I thought that your take on the article was interesting. I hadn’t thought of that aspect of implementation importance. I guess it is expected to have these issues if the online tool is unfamiliar.