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  1. #1
    entropy's Avatar entropy is offline It's the heat death of the universe, my friends

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    Default My kid's school is looking at getting tablets

    Next Tuesday I am going to a P&F meeting where they will be discussing getting tablets for grade five and above from next year.

    The only tablet that has been featured in the notice is a Dell, which looking at the dell website is heavy, clunky and can't make up its mind whether it is a gutless laptop or a tablet. Oh, and costs around $3,400 each. I do not know what the school can get it for, but I assume it will include some sort of service agreement.

    They are supposed to be identifying alternatives to the Dell. I note that Brisbane Grammar is making a big deal about using just such a dell system, which has the ability to let the teacher see what the kids are dong on each of their tablets.

    So do I go and say "Let's wait a couple of months and see what the ipad can offer?"

    These Dells come pre-installed with one note, which I guess is supposed to be the killer feature for tablet use in schools. So is there something equivalent in the iphone already? Is there likely to be something like it in the future?

    Because on price and weight alone, i would have thought a mix of desktops and ipads would be a better solution than that clunky Dell POS.
    27 inch imac i7 3.4Ghz 2011 12,2 OSX 10.8

  2. #2

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    First you need to detach yourself emotionally from the Mac vs PeeCee subject.

    You then need to find out what it is they are trying to accomplish, what are their goals.

    Then find the best hardware/software combination that currently exists within their price range and comes with support that will fill their needs.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by entropy View Post
    So do I go and say "Let's wait a couple of months and see what the ipad can offer?"
    And if you asked, why is the school using this technology in the first place ?

    My guess is if the school is looking at a Dell then the reason why the iPad + custom software is even a alternative may be lost on them.
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  4. #4

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    Also, does Dell have some contract with schools? Might make it cheeper for them (maybe i'm missing the point though).

  5. #5

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    Also important to look out what other technology the school is running.
    Its not only the initial outlay of the machine that you need to take into account.
    Running costs, including professional development for teachers, usually cost up to 50% of the outlay of the machine in general, a lot more taking into account the initial outlay of the ipad.
    Of course, without the pd to teachers, the tool is fairly useless whatever you get.

  6. #6

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    Does anyone do any cost-effectiveness analyses when considering buying such expensive pieces of technology?

    What is the outcome that is being measured? better student scores?

    There is way too many distractions these days. Nothing beats pen and paper and some good discipline. I must be getting old, but I would not want my child distracted with all these novelties.

    /end rant

  7. #7

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    Calculators have lead to kids not knowing how to do arithmetic in their heads
    Hate to think what the reliance on tablets will lead to. Reliance on spell check perhaps, loss of penmanship, reliance on the autocomplete and predictive text features

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phunky View Post
    Calculators have lead to kids not knowing how to do arithmetic in their heads
    Hate to think what the reliance on tablets will lead to. Reliance on spell check perhaps, loss of penmanship, reliance on the autocomplete and predictive text features
    Sextants have lead to kids not knowing how to plot a ship's course in their head.
    Hate to think what the reliance on the fountain pen will lead to. Loss of feather quill penmanship, reliance on the non-dip features?

    Skills required to live change with time. Language changes.

    I can't catch and kill my meals with my bare hands. My handwriting is atrocious. Does it matter? No. I can type faster than I'd ever be able to write. Is reliance on calculators an issue? No. To solve complex problems, it's important to think at a higher level and at a quicker pace. Calculators and computers let you do that.

  9. #9

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    Higher level and quicker pace? Cmon, when the kid behind the counter cant work out how much change I should get when buying something, thats a problem. Im not asking him to solve a calculus problem, all I want is the correct change....
    Oh thats right, everyone uses credit cards now for everything dont they? Yay for technology

  10. #10
    tcimac's Avatar tcimac is offline Tell the truth--there's less to remember.

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    No doubt this will hit AUS shores soon too
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  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phunky View Post
    Higher level and quicker pace? Cmon, when the kid behind the counter cant work out how much change I should get when buying something, thats a problem.
    Skills like that require practice. If the person serving you doesn't need to calculate change manually often, then of course they won't be good at it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Phunky View Post
    Oh thats right, everyone uses credit cards now for everything dont they? Yay for technology
    What's the problem? Technology has reduced the need to manually calculate change. Yay. That's a good thing. I think realtime spell check and predictive text has helped me improve my spelling over the years.

    Hopefully this doesn't come across as rude, but what do you attribute your poor grammar to? Do you blame technology for that? (My point is that it might not matter to live a happy and successful life.)

  12. #12

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    marc, it seems you are very pro-technology for education

    how do you justify the need (or benefits) of tablets in school? please be pragmatic with your response

    just want to have a meaningful discussion and will be more than happy to be shown that there is a place for tablets in education... if this is off topic, I do apologise
    Last edited by applebyte; 28th March 2010 at 02:37 PM.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by applebyte View Post
    marc, it seems you are very pro-technology for education

    how do you justify the need (or benefits) of tablets in school? please be pragmatic with your response

    just want to have a meaningful discussion and will be more than happy to be shown that there is a place for tablets in education... if this is off topic, I do apologise
    The need of tablets in school is quite simply because they offer a better educational experience. How so?

    • For most students, typing is quicker than handwriting
    • Tablets allow for a more interactive experience (Quizes/pictures etc.)
    • With quick access to the internet, tablets allow students to access the most up to date information
    • Quick access to the internet can encourage students to explore areas that interest them (obviously the counterpart to this is the problems introduced re. distractions, but this can be solved both in the technology and with proper supervision)
    • A tablet is a flexible device, instead of having 1 exercise book for spelling, 1 for maths, 1 for comprehension, a single device can accomplish all this, with instantaneous marking. While this will never replace a teacher, it is still an ideal teaching tool, allowing the more efficient kids to work ahead, and the slower kids to get the help they need from the teacher.
    • Most homework tasks/assignments will be completed on a computer anyway, why not use the thing in general coursework?
    • Teaching students to interact with a computer for work is much closer to how they will be expected to work when they enter the workfoce/highschool
    • Tablets are more portable than laptops/desktops
    • Tablets allow students to draw graphs/diagrams right on the screen, negating many of the impractical aspects of taking notes on a computer as opposed to paper/pen
    • Using computers in class makes it easier to assign readings without making the kids take home heavy textbooks (maybe not so much a problem for younger kids)


    That's just off the top of my head, and obviously would require significant training for the educators we would rely on to maximise the potential of these devices.

    Also, Marc wasn't arguing that tablets specifically should be introduced into schools, he was arguing that to NOT introduce technology into classrooms just because people who don't understand these technologies consider them novelties or distractions is ill-considered, so while I've answered your question, I don't think you've addressed Marc's ideas.

    EDIT: Apologies to the OP for highjacking this thread!

  14. #14
    entropy's Avatar entropy is offline It's the heat death of the universe, my friends

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    Zeddie I don't think the tablets in question are more portable than a typical laptop, in fact I think they look a bit more clunky.

    I have many concerns similar to others on this thread. They seem to be going with these Dells because, well, they have Dell desktops in the library and about three in each room. I am not sure how tech savvy the principal is. That said, if it appears the best tool for the job atm, well that will be what I support. It just seems that with the arrival of the ipad and other forthcoming tablets things could rapidly change, from an ease of use, portability and price perspective.

    I really want to quiz the principal very carefully on what he is trying to accomplish, and how these tablets will help him to achieve these goals. I fear there might be an element of trying to look high tech. I have very little faith in the average middle aged Mrs Teacher being able to get the most out of whatever they end up with. At the moment Jimbo has a cool dude of a male teacher on his second year out (the only male among 50 odd teachers) but I suspect Jimbo won't have him when the tablets actually get deployed.

    And that is before we even start on the cost of these things. I would expect the service contract would add at least a thousand, regardless of what type of computer it is.

    I suspect the kids will be the ones leading the way. So they will need watching, the little buggers. My nine year old figures out my administrator password with annoying regularity. Which reminds me, the Rudd Government are absolute idiots if they think they can effectively filter content. Tools.

    I do like the idea of finding out exactly what is expected for homework. At the moment Jimbo is a bit hit and miss with identifying the bits he has to do each night. Not sure an expensive tablet will necessarily solve that though.
    Last edited by entropy; 28th March 2010 at 06:32 PM.
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    The joy of the SES funding model that is still in place!

    My Public School could not afford a tablet, little alone more computers for our students.

    Our problem?

    All our kids live in the town that they go to school in!

    Oh to benefit from the SES funding model!

    Gosh!

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by applebyte View Post
    Does anyone do any cost-effectiveness analyses when considering buying such expensive pieces of technology?

    What is the outcome that is being measured? better student scores?

    There is way too many distractions these days. Nothing beats pen and paper and some good discipline. I must be getting old, but I would not want my child distracted with all these novelties.

    /end rant
    My maths classroom just got a smart board installed(one of these) last week, I know it's new but when we have it turned on everyone is more engaged in what's going on and sometimes all we want to do is play games on it but even that is good because they have maths games that everyone is a part of, I try barley use my calculator unless i'm doing something long or with large numbers such as 215 to the power of 12 (I can do it on paper but time is limited and I don't want to spend 10 minutes doing a long multiplication). We get laptops next term from ruddy, they will make things easier as we have set up a share folder on the smart board so that when the teacher saves something she has written up we can save it instead of writing it up, even with the most advanced technology we are given restrictions as to how often in particular subject we can use them, for geography it is only for research and stuff.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by applebyte View Post
    I must be getting old, but I would not want my child distracted with all these novelties.
    Do you want to see a page of "paper tetris"? I drew out each frame where the block moved down one block-level per frame, and I could either move it one block left/right or turn it 90 degrees between those frames. Don't think that a lack of computer means a lack of distraction, procrastination always finds a way.
    Should/Could/Would

  18. #18

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    My son, 9, in Year 4, has a project due tomorrow as it happens.
    Two of the requirements;
    Must be completed in Powerpoint.
    Must be handed in on a USB stick

    Pen, paper? Dodo?
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  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by marc View Post
    To solve complex problems, it's important to think at a higher level and at a quicker pace. Calculators and computers let you do that.
    I think this is a specious argument. Calculators and computers aren't required to study high-level maths and physics, for example. It's more important to know how to solve problems than to actually solve them. If you're just talking in general about keeping up with modern life etc. then I think most kids are sufficiently exposed to technology outside of school hours.

    Quote Originally Posted by zeddie2001 View Post
    The need of tablets in school is quite simply because they offer a better educational experience.
    I very much doubt this. In theory maybe, in practice no. I'm not against computers in schools, but it needs to be shown that they actually help students learn rather than just displace more important subjects from an already shallow curriculum.

    As for the OP, I guess I agree with others that you should know what the school wants to achieve before you can recommend anything else. I'd be interested to hear about what goes down at the meeting.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by areal View Post
    If you're just talking in general about keeping up with modern life etc. then I think most kids are sufficiently exposed to technology outside of school hours.
    I think the further that life in school becomes disconnected with 'modern life' then the more students become disengaged from what they are supposed to learn. If the processes by which they learn, rather than the content, are never to be used outside of a school context, then what is the point of learning them in the first place?

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