What Device Should Be Available For Children At School, If Any? [MakeUseOf Poll]

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polls   What Device Should Be Available For Children At School, If Any? [MakeUseOf Poll]Last week we asked you if you actually use icon emoticons, or emoji, in your emails and chats. Despite my expectations, the votes were divided almost equally between the five available answers. One of the options, however, managed to come on top. Which one do you think it is?

Out of 280 votes in total, the votes were divided as follows: 15% use emoji every chance they get, 16% use them very rarely, 18.5% never use emoji at all, 23.5% use them occasionally, when the mood strikes, and 27% use them sometimes, when they’re really better than words.

Full results and this week’s poll after the jump.

According to the comments, many readers think the same of emoji: they’re nice sometimes, and can help express emotions and clarify meanings, but don’t belong in professional emails, or emails in general. Don’t forget to check out last week’s best comment by Rajaa Chowdhury, who won 150 points!

poll results feb 23   What Device Should Be Available For Children At School, If Any? [MakeUseOf Poll]

This week’s poll question is: What Device Should Be Available For Children At School, If Any?

Want to make some extra MakeUseOf reward points? The most useful comment on the poll will be awarded 150 points!

This week’s poll is inspired by an interesting discussion we recently had on MakeUseOf Answers. Joseph Videtto asked what devices would be best for classroom use in a school, and received some interesting answers. More answers to this question were posted on our Twitter account, and made me think about the issue further. Each generation had access to different classroom devices while growing up. In my school, we had Windows 3.11 desktop clients running on a network. Nowadays, many schools offer laptops, or even tablets. Which do you think is the best device for classroom use? Or maybe these devices only serve as a distraction?

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Why is the device you voted for the best option? Why should schools offer or not offer access to these devices, and at what capacity? Discuss in the comments.

67 Comments - Write a Comment

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Garris Rago

Children learning how to compute on desktop computers or even laptops is an important life skill for the future, especially in modern times. I think that for the children of today, learning computer skills will be just as useful to them when they grow older as core subjects are today. In my primary school, our class had a Nintendo DS for ever student, but I think schools using these and tablets and other such devices are just wasting money, it is not vital for children to learn how to use an iPad and if they do, they do it in their own time.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Agreed. I don’t think there would be any use holding a class for iPad how-tos. If anything, every children I met figured it by their own.

Yaara Lancet

Nintendo DS for every student! Never heard of anything like that. When were you allowed to use them?

Garris Rago

We had about 30 minutes a few days a week to use them. We only had two games for it (1 for maths, 1 for English) I don’t recall the names of them but they were the most well known educational games for DS back then. We got them about half a year before I left the school so things may have changed now.

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Dr Jeffrey Lybarger

My response to this question is three-fold

1. Pertaining to Desktops and Laptops in middle school/high school. I believe that desktops or laptops are vital tools to be utilized in today’s environment. My children (5th and 7th graders), are learning several key skills from keyboarding exercises (which I did in 8th grade on typewriters…oh the pain) to using Google Drive for projects. Just last year they had to carry flash drives around with their projects on them, but have since migrated to Google Drive which eliminates the need to keep track of one more item of theirs.
2. Pertaining to Tablets in middle school/high school. My children are using iPads, specifically in math class. They are learning to use the iPad to assist in learning certain concepts through some very innovative apps. I have seen first-hand how they are using the iPads, and in my opinion they (I reference iPads because that is what my children are using but it could be any Tablet with math apps available) should be available in all middle/high schools. I would like to mention that they are NOT learning all the available functions of the iPad. It is not a class on iPad instruction and how to link Dropbox folders to it. That (if they have one at home) can be learned on their own time outside of school. But to assist in learning, this is a great tool.
3. I have a patient that just started classes at a local college. Everyone in her curriculum has been issued an iPad 4 (of course the student really pays for it through tuition). All of her work is done on the iPad, and that includes all of her textbooks. She does not have any physical textbooks for her curriculum. Now this is the ideal situation for a tablet IN ANY school. Just last week my oldest son had to bring home three textbooks and his notebooks for homework, and the weight of his backpack was just ridiculous. Being a Chiropractor, you can imagine the concern I have for ANY child who has to haul around something that heavy for any length of time. But with all the budget issues within school districts, I am aware that a tablet in every school is not going to happen.

Sorry for the “Book” of an answer and keep up the awesome work MUO. This is the first website that I check every morning, to see what awesome articles have arrived.

Dr. Jeff

Martin Ristovski

I think that some cheaper Android tablets would be more affordable in more countries and schools. What grade is your oldest son and how much does his backpack weight? I’m in 7th grade now and decreasing the weight that students carry every day would be great. I am usually carrying 6 books and 12 notebooks in my backpack every workday. These can get up to 8 kg at times. An iPad mini is about 300 g. The Google Nexus 7 is 340 g. That is an immense difference.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

My backpack is as heavy as yours (I’m in 12th grade). Not to mention that I occassionally bring laptop to school. Adults would comment that it’s mortifying every now and then, but I can’t see them replaced with digital equivalents soon.

Dr Jeffrey Lybarger

Sorry for the late reply. My oldest is in 7th grade and youngest is in 5th grade. The heaviest that I have weighed it in at was almost 17 1/2 pounds. That is way too heavy for any average person, especially children, to be carrying around.
Side note: The reason that I mentioned “average person”, is because I do understand that some readers, especially hikers and military, would laugh at how light this is compared to what they lug around mountains and rough terrain. But my concern is about the amount of stress that is placed on the body, especially someone whose growth plates are still open (they are not done growing yet).
Dr. Jeff

Garris Rago

I think you bring up a great point that the tablets are used to reduce cluttered text books etc. but I would argue the system we have at my school, students are welcome to take textbooks home with them, but they are also available online as digital versions that can be viewed in browser or downloaded. I believe teaching skills coupled with use of computers (desktops and laptops) used here and there for subjects are enough to give children all the knowledge they need and we should not rely on apps on the app store to do this.

Martin Ristovski

I think that governments should do more about making books available online. In my country a very small amount of books are available online and given the fact that they are “loaned out” to the students for free I don’t see a reason why students shouldn’t be able to use them as .PDFs in their browser. Combining the textbooks with tablets would be great. Switching to them totally would not be possible in the next few years but I hope that in the future we won’t be seeing students carrying around 10 kg backpacks.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Three textbooks and notebooks are nothing, I tell ya. I think being too reliant to technology isn’t always better. With my textbooks I can study whenever I want without having to worry about battery (the last thing you’d be worried about if tomorrow’s exam). For subjects which need textbooks just every now and then, ebooks would be best.
Can you tell us the name of that apps? What is the intended age group? I’m interested.
Nice to hear your children’s school’s awareness of technology. If I mention Dropbox/GDrive here in my school, none but the geekier kids would know what I’m saying. We send our assignments via email. That’s the most advanced you can get.

Dr Jeffrey Lybarger

Yes, I do agree that being too reliant on tech is not always better. I have had my office computer go down do to electronic health records updates, which I therefore had to revert back to “paper” charts for the day.

My children are in 7th and 5th grade. I do not recall what the exact apps were, but one I know for sure is Long Division Touch. I can certainly find out what all they are using.

I also have several patients who are teachers (from different schools and grade levels). Three different schools are using iPads for math class, and one high school teacher is using it for English Literature class.

But I am not for everything technology in schools. Please don’t get me wrong, it is the weight of a backpack loaded with books, folders, maybe laptops for some students, etc… that I am concerned about. I personally would rather read a physical magazine, textbook or leisure book than read the electronic version of it. Something about physically holding the material I guess.
Dr. Jeff

Lisa Santika Onggrid

I see. Then I suppose we’re on the same side. I wish we have lockers. That would ease the burden a bit.

Yaara Lancet

Fascinating comment, don’t apologize. Thank you for taking the time to share these stories. I had no ideas iPads are actually used in this way!

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Rajaa Chowdhury

I voted for “Some combination of the above”. Giving IT solutions to the education sector for quite a few years now, experience taught me, that a single form factor cannot really address all the needs of a education sector domain. The form factors ideally can be divided by usage or even primary, secondary or university education. If it is a programming computer lab, I would still probably suggest the client server environment of desktops connected to a server. If, the student as assigned with project / home works, probably issuing a laptop with a student Microsoft Campus Agreement to cover the software like the OS, MS Office will be ideal. A tablet form factor would be ideal for an interactive education environment. So, really if we see, all the environment are essential in most situations so a combination of form factors may be an ideal solution as per personal view.

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Collin Hoffman

It would depend a lot on what applications are available for the devices and whether these applications would enhance learning for students. However, great care must be taken when determining how and when to integrate technology into the lessons. As a recent high school graduate, I know better than most what happens when teachers bring their classes to the computer lab or roll in a cart full of laptops (or tablets, which my high school also had). In my experience, as soon as a students got their hands on a computer, the first thing they would do in most cases would be to check Facebook. This is counter-productive and in many cases the class would be better served by not having the computers available at all. This is especially true when the devices are being used for an activity that doesn’t require any sort of output, like “researching” a topic. Without any requirement to produce something, students are free to slack off during class and computers and tablets give them an easy way to do it. My point is that technology of any sort in the classroom must be carefully implemented, because, speaking from recent experience, students take advantage of technology to do things completely unrelated to the course.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Exactly. It’s the same anywhere in the world, eh?
My classmates would silently load their download list and wait…especially if the teacher isn’t particularly tech savvy and don’t realize ‘researching’ simple problems don’t take that much time.

Yaara Lancet

It’s amazing that Facebook is not restricted in schools, especially when the class involves researching on a laptop or tablet. On the other hand, there’s nothing easier than wasting time on the Internet, even if Facebook is blocked. When i was in high school our school computers didn’t even have an Internet connection, I think…

Collin Hoffman

My school tried to block Facebook (as well as other, more illicit sites), but even the least tech-savvy students knew that you could get on to Facebook using HTTPS, (and when you do that, Facebook will ask you if you always want to use HTTPS, which makes it that much easier in the future). I worked as an intern in the IT department and I asked the IT administrator once if he knew that students were doing that. He said that he did but there was no way to prevent it without blocking all HTTPS communication.

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Lee

I think it really depends on the age level we’re talking about. For younger kids, I’d definitely say just desktops in the classroom or computer lab to teach them how to use a computer and such. Laptops would work too, as long as they’re just used in-school so there’s less of a chance they will break them.
If we’re talking about slightly older kids (maybe middle-school or high-school), then there should also be desktops/laptops, possibly tablets.

While writing this I also had another though. Tablets could also be very useful for youger kids as well, but they would most likely need a lot of supervision. There are so many apps designed to teach children skills (like reading) and a big touchscreen can be a lot more interactive than a standard desktop.

Lee

Oops, it posted twice. Could someone delete this comment (and this reply to it)? There doesn’t seem to be an edit/delete button anywhere.

Yaara Lancet

Thanks Lee, it’s taken care of. :) And thanks for the comment!

Lisa Santika Onggrid

I learnt computer as early as in kindergarten. My kindergarten would let us play with the computer about ten minutes per session, and they provide games to introduce you with common concepts like pointing with mouse, clicking, dragging, and so forth.
–>Laptops would work too, as long as they’re just used in-school so there’s less of a chance they will break them.
If it can break, it will break one way or another. Kids are…experimental.
As commenter above pointed out, decent supervising is needed no matter in what age group. Middle/High schoolers are especially prone to doing things completely unrelated to task at hand.

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Nevzat Akkaya

Desktops, laptops and tablets, all of them required. The traditional computing devices like desktops and laptops are still the main workhorse for productivity. They also contain keyboards and mice which are essential to learn how to use. Children must getting used to them. On the other hand, newly popular devices like tablets are another good opportunity for them to use their hands for further interactivity with a computing device. As I always say : today’s children are lucky :)

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Lucky indeed. However, children today have short attention span and seem to be ‘lazier’. If there’s no revolution in teaching process, they’d lose the advantage.

Nevzat Akkaya

You’re absolutely right. I find it very difficult for my 4 years old son to concentrate on painting a simple sheet. He certainly has short attention span :)

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Let’s just hope it’s part of childish quirks and he’ll grows out of it. The problem is today’s media is so rich and ever-changing compared to the stillness of a book (or anything not digital).

Nevzat Akkaya

I hope so.

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Richard H

I answered Desktop/laptop clients working on a server; this is what it used in my school and there is rarely issues. The desktops are in certain classrooms-normally about the three classrooms per house-and the laptops are in wheelable trolleys and can be taken to any classroom in the school. This has the effect of any lesson being computable; and the computers often are given to the more advanced students to continue their education while the majority of the class are taught by the teacher. I am a good example of this; in my maths class, I often end up on a laptop because I am doing a maths GCSE a year early.

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gpvprasad

The just need their brain with a arms focusing on calculations.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Spot on, eh? We shouldn’t be too reliant to technology. Our brain has anything you need.

gpvprasad

Thanks for supporting me.
Now a days I open calculator to do simple additions :(

Lisa Santika Onggrid

I used to be very good in mental math, until I started to rely on calculator in high school. I realized I should stop when I found myself typing ’16*5′ or worse, ’46+28′ in my calculator.

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Dee Wheat

While I agree that computer skills are essential, I am seeing a steady decline in basic reading, writing, and math skills. While computers are king, there are times when the power goes off, and when it does there are two or perhaps three generations are helpless because they have no backup skills, if you will. They cannot read and retain, they cannot write simple, grammatically correct sentences, and they have few if any math skills at even the simplest level.

Electronics will, I honestly hope, never completely replace the need for basic life skills. If they do, we are doomed.

Bill Laurienti

I haven’t experienced this skill outage phenomenon. It’s true that there’s some language interference coming through from the IM-style communication craze, but parents and schools still have the ability to teach using and/or despite the culture, however we choose to see it.

In particular, those schools rich in electronic resources are often also those that score well in standardized tests and send higher proportions of students to universities. Are the devices behind that correlation? Unlikely, but it’s not an accident.

Dee Wheat

Bill, with apologies in advance to those who will, inevitably, become incensed due to what I am about to say, read the replies in this forum or for that matter, read posting anywhere online about any subject. I constantly see poor sentence structure, incorrect spelling and word usage, a thousand errors a day, at least.

For example: definately rather than definitely, your instead of you’re or you are, alot rather than a lot…I could go on for hours, and that’s merely the misspellings and word substitution.

Sentence structure is another issue, and I often find even in the case of news reporting from major sources I must read an article more than once to accurately understand what they are attempting to say. There are actually times when I CAN’T be sure I understand, and I was reading at a junior high level at the age of four.

I know what you’re thinking: just another spelling and grammAr (yes, that was deliberate!) nazi. I’m really not, though. I try to restrain myself and when…not if, but when…I become so annoyed that I begin to mutter under my breath, I simply shut down the computer and boot up the Kindle.

I love the idea of free books, because as a lifelong and voracious reader, I have in the last 60 or so years dropped a huge amount of money on books. It’s wonderful, except more and more I see extremely poor writing skills, and to my dismay the books that I buy aren’t much better in that regard than the free ones. I’m sorry to say that multiple glaring errors on page after page will make me delete a book long before I finish it regardless of how good the plot may be.

And then there are the basic math skills, not calculus and trigonometry but simple addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. If the power goes out, there is seldom a cashier in any store that can add up your purchases, figure the tax, and then make change. Ten or twelve years ago, I was speaking with a young man in his 30’s who owned, along with two others, a small computer store. I was going to pick up some hardware for a friend, and I called him because I knew I was going to be in a hurry and wanted to be able to walk in, toss a pre-written check onto the counter, scoop the merchandise up, and walk out. I asked for an OTD (out the door LOL) price. He had to total it three different times because his computer kept crashing in the middle of the computation. He apologized, and said he was doing it on his computer because he wanted to make sure it was right. I made the remark that if I wanted to be sure it was correct I did it in my head. He said, “My generation never learned to math in our heads.” It was only four items, but he was unable to add them and figure the tax without the computer.

That was a wakeup call for me, and I began paying attention. To my dismay, I soon realized that Johnny couldn’t read, write, or make change because his teachers couldn’t. My youngest child’s eighth grade math teacher called me once and asked that I stop teaching her how to do math problems in her head because he couldn’t and it was embarrassing when she reached the correct answer before he did. I told him that perhaps SHE should teach the class. He protested that they had all these tricks now that helped the kids solve math problems, and she wasn’t using any of them. She didn’t miss any questions, mind you, she just didn’t do them the way he was teaching and he didn’t want that even though my methods were faster and more accurate. You really do not want to know how that conversation ended. It wasn’t pretty.

Scoring well in standardized tests doesn’t impress me, either, nor does the number of students moving from high school to college, because being in college has no meaning unless one is actually learning on a college level. According to the many college professors with whom I have spoken, the vast majority of kids entering college now are functioning at about a freshman high school level if that, and they spend the first two years of college bringing them up to college freshman level.

Honestly, I believe the easy access to information virtually anywhere, anytime, is not the wonderful thing that some believe it is. If you know you can pull out your phone and Google something, there is less need to actually learn things. Typing into Google and reading something off is fine….until your battery goes dead or you are in a place where there is no service, and those are still quite common in many areas. If you need it desperately right then and can’t look it up and don’t know it, you have a huge problem. The “I don’t need to memorize XXXX because I can just look it up” attitude has seriously dumbed down our society, and it’s not a good thing on many levels. Not only does it cause the obvious issues, but it makes people lazy, and no matter how smart you are or how well you can utilize technology, being lazy will bite you in the butt every single time.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

I love your comment. I’s exactly why my parents told me to learn mental math back in elementary, and up until high school I never need a calculator.
In High school however, because everyone was using it, I did too and now I regret those three years because I have to re-train my brain.
I love my paperbacks. No power outage could stop me reading them. Your comment is spot on.
I know I don’t sound like it in English (I’m still learning), but I’m pretty good in my native language. I was astonished when one day in National Language class my friends asked me to help them with composition assignment, and I found most of them didn’t even know how to correctly use quotation marks and simple prefixes. They’re in grade 12 for screaming out loud.
What kind of teacher is that? He shouldn’t be teaching at all! I particularly hate that archaic notion ‘teacher should be better in anything, and if the teacher is wrong, that means he’s right and the student is wrong’. It’s dumbing down the country. If anything, he should’ve asked you how to do it himself.
Standardized test doesn’t prove anything. There are students who are good in tests and students who actually understand but not good with tests. Good at cramming doesn’t mean you know what you’re learning about. I’m horrified at how every test seems to be designed for rote memorization.

Dee Wheat

Actually, Lisa, your grasp of the English language is far better than most of the American born folks I know, and I’m not even deducting points for regional peculiarities in the American speech. I’m am constantly told, “You know what I mean!” when, in fact, I really have no idea what that person is trying to say because their grasp of their own language is so dismally poor.

Believe it or not, when I moved from California to the Midwest, it was almost like learning a new language. When my child was in fourth grade and they were doing a micro-economics lesson where they brought things to school to sell and then bought things from classmates that they wanted, the teacher sent home an explanatory note saying that if you allowed your child to bring “boughten” items, they might not choose items of equal value for which to trade. When I asked her what in the world “boughten” meant, she said that it was items from a store. She defended her use of what is clearly not a word by saying that she had to dumb down for the sake of her students parents. I told her that I might accept that explanation a bit more readily if I didn’t know that she had taught most of the parents, and in fact had taught some of the grandparents as well. I also heard teachers using “I seed” (I saw),”I heared” (I heard) and “I knowed” (I knew) on a regular basis.

After correcting the “newsletter” that teachers sent out once a month for the eighth or ninth time and taking it to the district superintendent, I suggested that the teachers take the standardized tests. He looked me straight in the eye and said, “They wouldn’t pass them.” Needless to say, he took a job in a different district very soon after that. I continued to send my child to school, and also continued to repair the school’s damage when she came home in the afternoons.

Dee Wheat

One other observation, while I’m here: I honestly believe that believing the theory that children must be having fun if they are to learn has been one of the major downfalls of the US educational system. Making education “fun” trivializes it. That’s not to say it can’t in some ways be enjoyable, but “fun” and “playing” are optional activities. Becoming educated is not.

There was a woman a few years ago who asked me how she could make learning the times tables fun for her child. When I told her that it was rote memorization and there was no way to make it fun so tell the kid to suck it up and study, she became outraged. That was eight or nine years ago. That child is now in college, and STILL can’t do simple math without a calculator.

muotechguy

I find your attitude to be rather ignorant of the different kinds of learners that exist, and how technology should be used as a tool to enhance learning of those basic life skills. I suspect you have no teaching experience.

Just as some kids will learn fine while sat in a classroom listening to a teacher; some will learn a lot more effectively when using a visually enhanced iPad-based textbook; and some will learn best when given practical applications of the subject. The one-size-fits-all approach of “forget technology, they need to learn basic skills!” doesn’t actually solve anything.

It’s about harnessing the correct technology, in appropriate situations, for those who would benefit from those particular teaching methods.

I’m also not sure technology is 100% to blame for the incredible stupidity and bad grammar nowadays. Less stringent hiring for teachers, exams gettings easier every year to facilitate constantly “improving” grades, perhaps globalisation of language and culture? It’s just not so black and white, is my point.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

I’m especially intrigued by the last part of your argument. My teachers admit they try their best to ‘tune’ their exams so more students could pass. Passing grade is upgraded every year, even though the system has no substantial change, and students struggle through it. They now mostly do what it takes for grades rather than knowledge. Very fatal.This is especially jarring because my school, which is one of the ‘favorites’ naturally want the students to be able to pass college entrance to maintain the school’s name. Actually, I’m sick of the whole ‘for the sake of grades’ system. It takes away the meaning of learning.

Yaara Lancet

Amazing stuff, Dee, as usual! Thanks for this comment. While I don’t agree with it 100%, I definitely see your point, and I think people rely on their devices way too much sometimes.

I’m 31, so I’m in the same generation as that computer salesman, and we actually did learn to do math in our heads. Calculators were not allowed in exams until I reached high-school, and not always. Knowledge really is important.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

I think education quality varies from place to place, from school to school. There are areas which quickly succumb into technology while the others are more conventional. You’re definitely more fortunate than that computer sales. I’m half your age and we don’t use calculator until high school as well.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

I post my reply here because I can’t reply to your latest post due to this thread’s length. Thank you for your compliment.
I can’t believe there are teachers like that! I have my share of bad teachers over the years as well, but that’s frustrating. For the record, that sounds like mistakes we would do back in primary school.
I don’t agree that she should dumb down her language. She should be correcting the students, not the opposite. That sort of habit encourages children to use improper forms and grammar. Imagine the kids saying,”But Mommy, that’s how the teacher writes it!”
Children are supposed to be educated at school. What an irony. There’s no point of torturing them with endless lectures and assignments if they undo their fundamental understanding at the same time.
I do wonder, however, why you continue sending your children there. I mean, it’s understandable in my country, because we have no other options. Universities and colleges refuse to accept anything but traditional/formal school certificates. Why don’t you homeschool your children instead? I heard it’s a quite popular option around US and Europe.

Dee

Why didn’t I homeschool?Because to be quite honest, I don’t feel that I’m qualified. Yes, I had a good education, and yes, I know how to google LOL. I know a lot about a lot of things, but I don’t know everything. Aside from that, there are other considerations, socialization being the most important. Extracurricular activities runs a close second. Additionally, although homeschooling is becoming more and more acceptable, a homeschool education will not get your child to be accepted by any Ivy League college.

Last, but certainly not least, as much as I love children, I would prefer being locked in a room with a dozen jonesing crack addicts than fight with my kids over doing their homework. It’s one of the major reasons I worked in trauma center Emergency Room nursing. Give me patients who are screaming, throwing anything in reach, wounds that pump blood all the way to the light fixtures and a dozen people a day puking on my shoes and I couldn’t be happier. Do not put me in a room with a bunch of kids with no duct tape, though. It would not be pretty!

Lisa Santika Onggrid

I see.
I forgot to response on your last post (one about ‘fun’ learning). I think most basics (simple math formula, multiplication tables, etc) would need rote memorization, although it’s not my preferred (or recommended) way of learning once you get over the first step. Fun learning shouldn’t make children think ‘It’s not important. It’s just a game!’ There’s where we should draw a fine line. Most method today focus on how the children will be happy when learning, instead of how much they’ll understand.
I’m lucky to get my education in traditional elevator school, a rigorous one. We study when we have to study, we play when it’s time to play. Occassional mix of the two would produce mild success. Doing that all the time? Clearly recipe for disaster.The definition of ‘fun’ also varies from person to person. I think math is fun when I discovered different ways to produce the correct result, some of them faster than teachers’ version.

Dee Wheat

Lisa,

You hit the proverbial nail on its proverbial head! Making learning “fun” for reasons other than the simple joy of gaining knowledge trivializes it. Having fun is an optional goal. Becoming literate and self sufficient is not, and it sometimes requires hard work. The fun part comes when you reach into the depths of your memory and drag out some information you thought you would never use and solve a problem. That is truly my idea of fun.

I well remember, MANY years ago as a nursing student, when I was standing at the elevator in the hospital and an EMS team came running up with a guerney, yelling “Hold that elevator!” I had really been wondering if anything I was studying was staying with me longer than until the exams, and when I looked at the man on that guerney I knew he had just had what they now refer to as “a cardiac event”. They were on their way straight to the ICU with this man. It was one of those crystal clear moments when one is finally sure that one is on the right track, doing what they were meant to do. I was seventeen years old, and that one incident was a turning point for me. It made such an impression that I can close my eyes and see that man as clearly as if I were standing next to him right now, 47 years later.

There was nothing fun about nursing school back then. The very first day they had my entire class, all sixty of us, in a room and they told us to look around and memorize each others faces, because in thirty days half the class would be gone. Thirty days after that, another half of the remaining people would be gone, and by graduation even more would be missing. My graduation class was twelve people. However, it was twelve of the best nurses anywhere, we knew it, and it made us pretty happy to be in that twelve.

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Austin Halsell

I think each device have their strengths and weaknesses, and as much as possible should be introduced to children. Working in IT for a school district, I have noticed some worrisome trends, however. In our district, there are few schools that have a dedicated computer lab and only one middle school with a dedicated computer teacher. Often students already know more about technology and how to use certain devices than the teachers in charge of them, particularly at the middle/high school ages. Often this means that kids who show promise and interest with technology and computing have nothing to gain from teachers who have nothing to offer beyond access to the devices. I’ve also noticed that among teachers, there seems to be a fear of technology which causes them to see students who have interest and skill using computers as being mischievous pseudo-“hackers”.

Anyhow, I think it is important to expose students to different technologies. But I also think it should go deeper than laptops vs. desktops vs. tablets and into OS’s for them. Personally, I’m an Apple fan simply for the ease of the ecosystem between iOS, OS X, their respective app stores, and third party developers. However, I think students need to experience Windows and even Linux. I believe that it will breed familiarity and comfort with computers as a whole rather than familiarity with a particular OS or even GUI. Kids are resiliant and absorbant, what better time to show them how vast and exciting computers can be by showing them the expanse of tech that exists now.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

How insightful. I like how you’re open-minded and encourage children to learn every OS family. We mainly learn Windows here, so much that students have the outdated view that ‘Linux is hard’, ‘Linux is for geeks’, and ‘Linux=command lines’. It’s limiting children’s potential and severely cripple their ability to use different kinds of technology. One time I lend my laptop while booting Linux Mint. They think LibreOffice Impress is so different than Powerpoint that they practically begging me to boot into Windows instead. They’re afraid of things they’re not familiar of.

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Victor Ong

I personally am an online student. Although we still have a school campus, working from home works out awesomely for me. Technology makes thing so much easier. You can learn almost ANYTHING online, you can research ANYTHING online, and you can work so efficiently on a computer.

Research paper? Use my desktop at home and run dual-monitor setup to compare and contrast notes.

I must digress about tablets though. Tablets are simply overrated. They can be used to browser and all, but they aren’t very good for productivity as shown in a recent makeuseof article.

On the go? Laptops are the way to go. Even ultrabooks and *gasp* netbooks will work just fine.

Even at the school campus, people use their school-issued computers for homework. It gives such a range of freedom, while also giving access to an incredible amount of reliable information which cannot be found in a standard textbook, which could very well have outdated information. We are lucky today that we have such an incredible amount of updated information right at our fingertips. Knowledge is power.

Besides that, children need to be tech-savvy for the future, I believe. The future is tech, and the sooner children know how to use it, the more about tech they will know in the future. This would be a first step in creating a tech-savvy generation.

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Bill Laurienti

Students are moving into a world where “literacy” with a variety of tools will be presumed. It’s no longer about trying to provide an advantage– it’s basics.

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Russ

Chromebook! cost effective, virus proof level playing field among students.

Yaara Lancet

Nice idea!

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Andrew

As a high school teacher I totally endorse the use of “Bring Your Own” laptop computers for the following reasons:
– develops skills universal across all subjects
– best at note taking, surpasses the pen, especially if a touch typist, don’t even go there with a tablet!!
– pretty much does everything a tablet will do + more (for a similar or even cheaper cost)
– allows students to take home and work on projects started in class
The list goes on but the portability and flexibility of the laptop computer wins on all counts for my students.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

As a high school student with ‘BYOL’ system, there are several reasons on why it isn’t so effective unless you’re a good teacher with enough grasp on classroom environment:
-Not every student has a laptop
-Students would do activities unrelated to tasks at hand at the first chance they can get (downloading, facebook, twitter, etc)
-No good if you’re a visual learner who likes to scribble on your notes, unless you bring pen tablet along.
-Over-reliance to technology (Panic in math class when the electricity went off. It happens)

Those aside, I also agree that laptop is good to have in class. I’ve began to see tablet as a better note-taking utility though.

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Saikat Basu

The worrying thing could be that now there will be another divide – the digital divide – between students who have access to digital devices and those who haven’t. In many schools around the world, welfare funds just don’t allow for purchase of expensive tools. The search is still on for cheaper access. The OLPC is prohibitively expensive for many areas of the world. When, per-individual devices are still out of reach, the solution could lie in the cloud.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Problem with the cloud: some countries’ internet access speed is still subpar. It takes a long time here to load flash animations or media-rich pages (which is more useful for learning).

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Pooky Joralyn

iPads (or Android pads) would be great for teaching young children, but not for bigger ones. Laptops would be a much better thing for them.

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Aska Nag

Hi!
In my opinion in school children should have, necessarily, an E-book. In it you can download e-books and thus deliver children from wearing extra cargo. Also should be present, the mobile phone, in which parents can be contacted with their child. The most simple, without redundant functions, which may distract from the occupation.

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Lisa Santika Onggrid

Our school’s system allow digital learning to some extent,but we have to bring our own machines. This is problematic because some students don’t have laptop/tablet yet, so the school can’t integrate it too much in classroom. I personally use my friend’s laptop the first three semesters of my high school, before I finally got my own.
Speaking of ideal world, first and foremost I’d say school should deploy the required units so the students are balanced ( no one has the advantage over the others) and the intended integration would run more effectively.
Laptop is okay, but if my experience is any to speak of, they’re more distracting than helpful (students use the WiFi to download games/movies/etc during class). I may be biased, but to me some sort of tablet or devices like Boogie Board (one that could save and transfer our notes to laptop) are better, because they take less space and proportionally sized for writing notes. Tablet is especially useful because they can do extra task like viewing course slides or videos. Boogie Board if your students only need plain digital notetaking.
This might be out of this poll’s scope, but speaking of technology at school, I’d also make a point of how technology should be used to help teachers enhance students’ learning experience instead of relegating every responsibility to devices. I’ve seen some younger teachers who lost control of the classroom and unable to explain much after short circuit caused our school to blackout for two days as they have no slides to consult to. Some are also reluctant to write on whiteboard as they think it’s too troublesome.

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Guy McDowell

The one thing I find lacking most in my kids, due to the use of computers, is the ability to write neatly in cursive or print. My youngest, who is in Grade 4, doesn’t even know what cursive is. His school doesn’t even teach it anymore.

Justin Pot

They also don’t teach how to use an abacus. Cursive is dead. I’m surprised about the print thing, though.

Guy McDowell

How can cursive be dead? Do you print your signature?
If I got a handwritten letter from an adult with the type of handwriting I’m seeing come out of these schools, I’d think the person was developmentally delayed. Or halted, even.

Dee Wheat

Oh, it can be dead, believe me. The days when I taught myself calligraphy because I was tired of losing grade points because my handwriting was so poor are gone, I think forever.

Are you saying you still get handwritten letters? The only handwritten letters I get are from Amish friends, and I’m absolutely serious. Interestingly, although the Amish end their formal education at the end of the eighth grade, one of the things taught in Amish schools is Spencerian handwriting.

Tina Sieber

Personally, I think cursive is about as useful as make-up. Some people need it to cover up bad writing. But it doesn’t matter whether you write in print or cursive, as long as what you read is legible.

I quit cursive in high school (early 90s) because it made my writing either too slow or ugly. I needed to write faster. So I started writing print. I wrote so much faster and finally didn’t lose any points for bad spelling anymore…which was really due to bad handwriting.

My signature is different every time, which makes it useless, because I still write it in cursive, which I haven’t been writing for over 20 years.

Guy McDowell

Maybe I am wrong about cursive. Having learned it though, I am more appreciative of people with good penmanship. It somehow puts another facet on the inherent meaning of words.

Some folks say Latin is dead too, but then I hear older people who had to take Latin in elementary and high school say they’re now glad they took it. They ALL hated it back then though.

Tina Sieber

Well, notice how I didn’t say cursive was dead. I do think it has its place and learning it certainly didn’t hurt me. At least I can read it.

Likewise, Latin does potentially open the brain for many languages and the meanings of words that are based on Latin. Yet it’s possible to become fluent in other languages without learning Latin first. Sure, it might be easier to learn French and Italian if you learn Latin first, but what if you get fed up with languages or don’t have the time to proceed? Then you know some Latin, but practically no French or Italian. I’m glad I know some French and sometimes get the gist of what is said or written in other Roman languages. It’s way more practical than Latin.

The thing is, there are so many great things one can learn and do. The question is, what is worth our time? And who gets to decide what is worth our children’s time or what will serve them in the future.

Will it serve your children to write cursive in the future? Or will it be more important to type fast and speak clearly?

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