Tablets

Do students who are issued tablets miss the benefits of experiential learning?

What is your opinion about tablet initiatives in schools for the sake of education? Are students missing out on the benefits of experiential learning?

There seems to be a fair case for tablets in the enterprise, where any tool that offers a productivity benefit in excess of its cost has a place. Commercial enterprise is generally centered around cost and benefit, with the latter ultimately measured by profit, which is an obvious and easily identifiable gauge. If tablets make an employee more productive, and hence make the enterprise more profitable, that's an obvious benefit.

The benefit of tablets becomes far less clear when applied to education, a field traditionally fraught with difficulties when it comes to assessing the benefit of a particular tool. Even the metrics by which education should be measured, such as standardized tests, are the subject of frequent and passionate debate.

While I'm generally a believer in the benefits of carefully applied technology, when I read about each new school district that equips its students with a fleet of iPads, Androids, or Windows tablets, I feel a mixture of hope, bemusement, and skepticism. The first emotion is probably easiest to qualify. Tablets were the stuff of science fiction during my formative years, and I was captivated by the half dozen Apple II computers that would roam my elementary school's hallways. In fact, I remember spending the better part of my grade school recess periods indoors, creating rudimentary animations and BASIC programs, while my peers honed their athletic prowess and tetherball abilities. Clearly, access to technology affected and inspired me, and while I might have ended up in a technology-focused career without exposure to computers at school, it certainly helped nurture the seeds.

Despite being the beneficiary of technology at school, I'm not sold on the concept of equipping every student with a tablet, allowing Wikipedia to be used as a primary source, and YouTube videos of underwater life substituting for another high point of my elementary school career: donning rubber boots and netting tadpoles and water bugs under the auspices of science. Tablets and technology, in general, seem as if they should be an accelerator for competent instruction. However, in the United States, they're too often employed as a replacement for it.

Apple, in particular, seems to be borrowing a page from its past -- when it heavily subsidized the very Apple IIs on which I played Carmen Sandiego, in the hopes that parents would purchase what their kids used at school -- as it now showers schools with iPads. I'm no sociologist, but a family member who works in a school recently remarked that since the district issued iPads, the normally rambunctious cafeteria is now as silent as a monastery as the children peck away at glass screens. While a scene from Animal House is not helpful to anyone, a docile generation that would rather Tweet than talk is far scarier. Interestingly, the biggest fear in this same district is children being targeted by thieves for their iPads, their likely cargo easily identified due to the required public school uniforms mandated by an initiative to reduce gang violence.

Will a generation educated on tablets miss the benefits of experiential learning, dryly observing iTunes University classes on chemistry rather than inhaling the sulfuric odor of hair burnt by Bunsen burner-fueled antics? On the other hand, I wonder if perhaps there were someone like me three decades ago, lamenting the invasion -- in meticulous handwritten cursive, of course -- of noble institutions of learning by Apples, Commodores, Tandys, and the occasional IBM PC. I would have scoffed at this curmudgeon who felt I could learn logic without the crutch of GW-BASIC.

There's clearly a balance of employing technology appropriately and when it will engender the greatest benefit. This is especially true in the world of education, where otherwise basic metrics like performance-driven incentives, test scores, and peer evaluations have as many advocates as detractors. In the case of tablets in schools, I'm still not sold.

What is your opinion about tablet initiatives in schools for the sake of education? Are students missing out on the benefits of experiential learning? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.

About

Patrick Gray works for a global Fortune 500 consulting and IT services company and is the author of Breakthrough IT: Supercharging Organizational Value through Technology as well as the companion e-book The Breakthrough CIO's Companion. He has spent ...

61 comments
Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Tools to increase productivity, is fine. To substitute for knowledge is not. (19 * 10) + (10 * 7) + (7 * 9), or 2 * 17 * 10 - 20 + 3 Ain't no one putting that in a calculator ...

weeeezzll
weeeezzll

...over more formal education (not for everyone anyway) only that it's okay to lean on a calculator to do simple arithmetic in the same way that it's okay to lean on code libraries to push bits around in registers. If a high level application were written directly in assembly it would be immensely more error prone and would cost so much in terms of effort to create that it would not be feasible to write. The same goes for using a calculator. Sure you can do the math in your head or on paper, but you can be much more accurate with the proper tools. Your contention that an entire generation of people cannot multiple 7 x 19 with out a calculator is strawman argument.

weeeezzll
weeeezzll

...they might play with fire, and doodle inappropriately in the dirt. Better regress even further...

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

That I didn't need to know any of that to accomplish my role? I would not even have got it without them, nor could I have held it. The idea behind your thinking is educate/train an XXX programmer. When XXX is no longer relevant, neither are they. Name one advantage to the student in that proposal!

coco6809
coco6809

We teach children to learn. I was taught useless stuff like memorizing the presidents by name. Knowing the start and end dates of all wears around the world. Memorizing facts like how long the Great Wall of China is. We teach a lot of useless stuff that our kids don't need. Apple alone is selling about 15 million iPad Minis each quarter. And now the personal computer is on its way out based on sales numbers. Even Microsoft is struggling to figure out what to do. Now they are making their own computers while still working with others to create competitors to their own product. Technology is moving fast. It is something our children will need to know. The Discovery channel app can teach a child more about the circulatory system than a paper book with a few photos. On that app for example, you can hear from the doctors themselves and researchers and other blood experts on the life and death cycle of arteries, the hearts and more. Or you can read a few pages in a book and listen to a teacher who has read the same book and just tells you what you just read. I have read the responses to my opinion. For those against, I am astounded at the sarcasm and short-sighted to adopt change. This is not the 19 century and we cannot keep teaching like it is. We used to have a one room school house 50 years ago in many small towns. But you no longer see that. Why? Because we learned we were holding back the mover and shaker students. We have learned that mainstreaming is not an effective teaching tool. All learn differently. I have a teaching degree so I know. With technology, kids can learn at their own pace with tools that suit their learning styles. Governments are beginning to put internet everywhere. Google has tons of tools to help learners to collaborate (teachers and students). And it growing by leaps and bounds. Why leave our children behind? If we want to leave something out of the classroom, make it sex ed. We can see that has backfired. So their answer? Let's teach it even earlier....to 1st and 2nd graders. Rubbish. That domain belongs to parents. Parents can teach it (how else did they have children in the first place?). But they may not be able to teach technology like tablets. But a smart educator can learn it, maximize its value and teach children how to use it responsibly and for their betterment. Now, where did I put those old logarithm tables?

weeeezzll
weeeezzll

do you write application software in machine code, or do you depend on high level languages and libraries that do all of the hard work for you?

weeeezzll
weeeezzll

...is none of your business or concern. If they are doing something inappropriate at school with it, or bringing inappropriate content to school on it then you should discipline.

chague
chague

Henrico County, Virginia has been providing laptops to students for over ten years. They now provide a laptop to every student and teacher from 6th grade through high school. Ironically, in a recent procurement for laptops, tablets and Windows 8 machines were excluded from consideration even though the contract was to be for four years. The arrogant, elected School Board is clueless! The initial justification was to reduce costs by eliminating text books. To a large extent, that has not happened (the School Board blames the textbook publishers) so the students are lugging around a backpack filled with books plus the laptop. A generation in this county will eventually suffer back problems. It has cost a fortune! Costs have not been reduced. The school technology budget was rising at a rate of $1 million per year yet there is little evidence that this has improved student learning. Certainly students need to learn and have access to technology but there is no substitute for a good, dedicated teacher!

ManoaHI
ManoaHI

Tablets and computers should be used. The problem is that the teacher themselves have not figured out how to use this technology and thus it ends up like a failed experiment. The teachers need to be trained to use the technology in an effective way. What is failing is that teachers are trying to fit the pencil and paper method to something that inherently interactive, which translates to teaching a whole new way. With teacher salaries being so low, they cannot afford to keep up with every new technology (ok, the 4 or 5 years has already passed - but educations methods change at a very slow pace). Schools that have been using computers for many years (general classrooms, not "computer" classes) have figured it out. How to teach with the technology. So, school districts see the successes and everyone expects overnight results. So, successes and failures, almost always, the failures are the ones just starting.

Areckx
Areckx

Seriously, if we eliminate all of this technology from classrooms I think we'll be much better off. Leave technology for outside of class where the truly curious may wander into whatever subject the inquiring mind seeks. We need to fund our education system with smaller classrooms and more teachers, not gadgets. Why are we so adamant about increased test scores instead of teaching our youth how to think for themselves? All of the most successful people were self-taught, because they sought after knowledge outside of the classroom. If we can find the spark inside individual students rather than lumping them all into a mediocre median, then our future will be full of intelligent adults.

coco6809
coco6809

I have a similar background to Patrick. But I differ with his opinion. If companies use nail guns to build houses and install roofs, children should learn to use them rather than be taught how to use a hammer and a nail. Yes, missing out on smashing a thumb the old way with a hammer will be hard to handle, but they will get over missing that. When I was in college, they would not allow the use of calculators in math and accounting classes. Why? Do you know of any companies that make kids figure out change from old style cash registers ? NO, the registers are modern marvels that tell them what to give back in change. Does that make them stupid robots? No, it makes them smart users of technology. If surgery today is done with micro cameras and sutures are replaced with chemical adhesives, why teach students how to use a scalpel to dissect a frog? And why teach needle and thread to sew them back up? WE need to teach today's students with the skills they need to survive, and even thrive, in the working economic sectors. If we don't, students from other countries that use these tools and have these skills will pass our students and workers. Keep in mind we live in a global society. It's not like it was 30-40 years ago. And the internet at our finger tips gives us far more knowledge than we can get from whatever a biased teacher might present. Nothing against that teacher, but they need to teach all aspects of a subject and how to learn beyond the classroom. That is the greatest leverage of their skills and those of the technologies that help students to even pass them up. So in summary, give 'em tablets. Put some controls in so they don't surf in the wrong areas. Tell then where to go to get more info. Tell them where to go to use simulators to actually exercise what they are learning. Make learning fun. Allow them creative ways to learn with the tools that best suit their learning styles. All can be found on the web using tablets. People learn through hearing (the lecture), visual (the blackboard?), and kinetic (touching the book?). Or they can learning through interactive software and videos and streaming audio. The choice is ours. Embrace the future (it's coming anyway) and help to steer it. Or stay in the past. Randy

jmask
jmask

Clearly, anything that seems to be a cure all will probably not pan out in the long run. A balance of methods is always best. Technology is already in the hands of kids to not include proper use of the technology would be foolish. Even simple things like looking away while you type a password or sharing a document are essential workplace skills today. I truly dislike the apple platform (my schools choice) but I accept it because the benefits of computer technology outweigh the costs. True, Kids will and do do "bad things" with the technology and I do catch some but I could never catch them all! It is like the IRS you don't need to catch everyone, just catch a few and to set an example. Here is are a few benefits: 1) I do not get sick as often because I handle fewer germ laden papers. Being sick when you teach chemistry is not possible since getting Chem savvy subs where I live is not possible 2) There is no argument about the time a doc is turned in when you do it electronically! 3) Students have the responsibility of caring for a hunk of technology and I know that sometimes they trash the machine but more often they step up to the plate. 4) It is easy to getting a quick handle on the understanding of the class, a quick electronically graded checkpoint will give you almost instantaneous data that you can then use to modify instruction. 5) online collaboration. and a few costs: 1) Money could be better spent elsewhere 2) The learning curve for teachers 3) Broken computers or tablets 4) lost work (crashes) and glitches 5) Pushing out of real teachers in favor of online instruction systems 6) The dreaded EMP pulse, 7) PLAGIARISM!! 8) Jumping on the bandwagon before thinking it through. I think yes for high schools maybe for middle school sparingly in elementary schools. Keep the penmanship, times tables and arts thank you. So what do you think? JMask

jqbecker
jqbecker

If there is an analog way to learn it, stay off the electronics. If there is no other way but electronic (ie: can't travel to see something, too expensive to do live, too dangerous to do live) then learn it on the electronics.

LesNewsom
LesNewsom

I like the article and the nostalgia it digresses to. But, the debate is the same held in times past. When the scroll replaced the stone tablet, you can bet there was an uproar. We can choose to embrace change or fight it but, history proves that change will happen. As to the tablet being the scourge of Education, a school CAN control what kids are doing on their iPads, and a school CAN control everything a student can download while in the confines of the building. The tools to do so are Casper and a Proxy Server like Squid. (for example) The tablet is a wonderful thing that can replace textbooks which are outdated before they are even circulated. Teaching students how to effectively employ such a magnitude of information is the challenge. The only fear anyone should be leveraging is the fact that one EMP will render all of these devices useless.

jmask
jmask

Yes, I teach high school chemistry and I use computers I come from an age of programming in Fortran on cards and have evolved through pen input on my tablet PC (windows) my school has been using laptops (macbooks yuk) in a 1 to 1 plan for the last 4 years and computer labs before that. In my area, the sciences, experiential learning is not going anywhere soon. laptops and tablets are tools to be used to supplement learning and possibly open a few new avenues of instruction. As a former engineer I know that an education is the combination of understanding , communication and determination. Getting kids to get their hands dirty and put in the effort to figure it out ("FIO" as I tell them) is an excellent goal that will help the child regardless of their future career. Computers and tablets can help with that in surprising ways. I run a course management system (Moodle) as well as a helpdesk (with ticketing software) post podcasts of me solving chem problems in class (via the tablet pc) In labs we collect data via sensors hooked up to laptops these are tools of my job. But we still do labs and collect data "old school" with analog thermometers and balances etc. Students still need to sit through lectures, do calculation worksheets and yes I do tell them about log tables and show them how to use a slide rule. I would like to give one example of a project 1 to 1 computing has allowed me to do: my engineering project. Born of too many baking soda volcanoes in science fairs and a belief that not everyone will be a scientist of engineer but they are likely to work with one came the call for a different idea. My concept all classes will work on one project (just one product) that they may not be successful at such as a underwater remote rov video camera or solar cell built from scratch. The timeline: short Location: outside of school The focus: communication and working together The goal: student autonomy and exploring the possibilities Students apply to teams such as project management, design, fundraising, construction and publicity and marketing and more. They are supervised by me but in charge of themselves, setting schedules making deadlines scrambling if something falls through (as it always does) and most importantly getting it done! There are no guarantees of success, but that is what makes this different from normal school work. I have really enjoyed it as have the students when you can't get hem to go home after an after school meeting or a project manager shows up for a meeting that day after an emergency appendectomy you gotta figure something must be going right. There is no way I could assign a project that may not be able to be completed if I could not keep wicked close tabs on the students. I need to keep track of their communications with me and each other and keep track of and approve changes and updates. Just like the real world; impossible with out computing and FIO! JMask

PeterCroasdale
PeterCroasdale

I'm a great fan of new technology - but that doesn't mean everyone is. The real question is, is the information they want to learn, the skills they need to develop, presented to them in a way that is better than in other ways - or in mode that they prefer to classroom based teaching. Doesn't matter whether it is a tablet or teacher or a book - that's the basic question.

grh
grh

Improved tools can be a good thing, especially if they actually improve things. But children today; and in many ways everyone to some extent, are not taught, they are coached to retain facts and processes already provided, sort of micro-wave-meal learning; a TV dinner for the mind. Right, Johnny, question 1; what is 2 plus 2. Press 2 Now + Now 2 Now= And the answer is???. 4 Miss; Very good write it down. Miss why is 2 plus 2 4? Because the computer says it is Johnny, next question what is 5 plus 7??? Press 5?????????.. Thinking is not taught today; how to reason things out, find out the answer for yourself without having to ask someone. Fire up Google or some such??? there you go that’s the answer. But is it? We have become mentally fat and lazy. Have you noticed how ‘Intuitive’ software becomes with each new update? Choices you once made are made for you; Amazon now makes choices for me to purchase – sure I don’t have to buy them and don’t but the principle, the methodology is all there in place waiting. Slowly and surely we are being imprisoned in a totalitarian police state where our thinking is done for us. Sure you will have choice – “What flavour ice-cream do you want citizen?” But what scares me is that we are building this prison ourselves but don’t see it. Facebook! Whats wrong with Facebook; I can see all me mates and know what they are doing, I got loads of friends, 695 by today’s count; it’s great nothing wrong with it. My smart phone’s so cool; I take a picture and it sends it up to Flicker with where I am, what time of day it is and my Geo-position - everything, its brill. Yeah, that Google+..s’great; got my whole life on there, me mates, their mates, everything. You’re just scaremongering; it’s great is that, social networking (read engineering) stuff, my whole life is on the cloud. Think. 1984. Laugh if you want, I couldn’t care less but just think were all this is heading under the guise of making 'life easier' with the latest must-have-personal-tracking-system gadget.

pfeiffep
pfeiffep

I really don't think that any one tool limits or expands the educational experience. How that one particular tool is introduced, taught, and proper use encouraged is paramount to advancing education. I believe that I have a better understanding of time than my grand children do since I learned how to tell time with an analog device. I also think that my math skills were greatly enhanced by using an old fashion device - the slide rule (hand held analogue calculator). I certainly think that the introduction of technology advances have muddied the educational pond water and in general, IMHO, are introduced in schools at TOO early an age.

Jim Johnson
Jim Johnson

Some of my high school teachers went through some angst when I showed up with my first cheap slide rule - thankfully they got over it once they realized that while I spent less time on arithmetic, I still had to understand arithmetic to be effective. And guess what my first required course was in my freshman year of college? You got it - how to use a slide rule. Same deal when several years later I was in a position where the professional staff, which included me, were required to do some straightforward statistical analysis then have a clerical person type up a table. I programmed the departmental computer to do the analysis and print up the same table and used the clerical staff to key in the data. Clerical staff loved it because it was easier and faster than formatting a table on a typewriter; other professional staff hated it because I had devalued their jobs - yeah right, I gave them time to do something more 'professional' in nature and earn their pay. The machine did the donkey work, but we (the professionals) still had to understand the results. The same for introducing tablets to elementary and secondary education. So long as the students still have to understand the underlying concepts, I have no problem giving them better tools.

DeeCarter
DeeCarter

I agree with cbermund. Tablets are merely a tool, and their usefulness depends solely on the way they are used in the classroom. So, the discussion should shift towards the way tablets are used in the classroom, not whether or not they should be used in my opinion.

grh
grh

And not just students; everyone is being infected with some sort of dis-ease. I remember when computers where not ubiquitous; my sons had to create boot disks to get their games to run; for each game usually, to squeeze as much RAM as they could – no EMS and such stuff. You had to know about interrupts and ports to get sound cards to work; networking and mice as well; also setting dip-switches on printers etc. There was no plug and play. If it didn’t work you kept at it until it did and they understood what they were doing and why. And they were 10 and 15 years old at the time. Now people just plug it in and (usually) off you go – otherwise a trip to PC World to get them to sort it and often they have no idea either. Seemingly, people are forgetting how to do research - Wiki-it, Google-it or Youtube-it. Can you look up in an index at the library and find an answer that way? How many people can still read a road map? How many people at the check-out know how to count up change? The item is 75p and I give them a pound. Tap, tap, tap answer 25p. They have no idea how it is 25p they just give it to you. I don’t think this is all by accident. We are being dumbed down. Big time and it is starting pre-school. I went to my son’s house and what did I find? A toy mobile phone. Ok, no problem with that, tactile, buttons to press, clicky sounds and bright colours. NOT. It was smooth dark blue plastic and had a mock touch screen that moved a plastic film across it with all the icons you would find on a real phone. Children don’t play anymore; they are being trained as consumers, compliant consumers. Schools destroy creativity and natural learning by teaching rubbish; dumbed down rubbish that the government – aka big business – want them to learn. 1984 is here. Everything is on the cloud, libraries are closing and books will all come on a Kindle that will be updated to suit. Information will be controlled. We have TV’s that are ‘smart’ and connected with webcams – 1984 style monitoring. Your phone can now listen to all your music and give you a playlist at the end of the day (with buy this song now button). It is only a short step to listening to your conversations. Don’t get me wrong, I use a computer (2 actually) in my daily work and very useful it is as I work remotely; but I have watched this insidious spread of technology eroding away peoples functionality; where families sit in silence all connected, some with head-phones on and conversation is tweeted or texted and speaking to someone, you know with actual words is met with annoyance, sighing and eyes back to the screen – I jest not. We need to wake up and take back our lives. But we won’t; it’s in too deep.

eklass2
eklass2

I studied Electrical Engineering, and I know the benefits of solving mathematical problems by writing on a sheet of paper. You cannot just read your way out of those complex mathematical problems. I however believe that tablets may be useful if you are learning certain subjects like say History or Literature. The traditional method might not suffice this time.

dogknees
dogknees

It's not a case of .... Like saying all kids that play games are not spending time outdoors with their friends. You can do both! You can play computer games and realworld sports and have a broader exposure to people and situations. We need to be teaching kids that there are a lot of different ways of finding out about the world and of interacting with other people. It wouldn't surprise me if today's kids are a lot more familiar with people outside their immediate family and friends then my generation was. Something that can only be a good thing given our increasing contact with and dependence on other countries and people.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

There's nothing new here, same arguments were made over the PC, the calculator, probably slide rules... What is education for? Teaching someone that 2 + 3 = 5, or providing the opportunity to learn why it is? You can learn both on wikipedia if you want to (and not just on an iPhone), just the same as you could choose the correct schooling, read the correct book, if you want to. The real problem is and has always been those in power in education want to choose what pupils learn much more than they do how...

Ron_007
Ron_007

That educators and school boards should have addressed your questions first. Computers are just another teaching technology. Someone has to decide when it is appropriate to use. Currently, kids started with fat crayons and fat pencils, they "graduate" to skinny crayons and pencils, then pens then typewriters/computers. A hundred years ago, kids were issued slates and chalk, because that was the best affordable technlogy. And, I'm willing to bet parents complained about kids sitting around with their chalk slates getting fat instead of playing. For the last 50 years, computers have been slowly working down the educational grades. The first computers were simply too big (room sized) and expensive (millions of dollars) for anything but post secondary. When personal computers came out in the 80's, first they were too under powered and still expensive and too large (desktops only) for much more than limited use. In the Mid 90s we started to see phonebook sized laptops. Finally in the late 2000's we started to see tablets and laptops at a price point available to general public and grade schools, that were also durable enough for kids to toat around. Now we have reached the point in the development of this technology where it is feasible to deploy iPad/Surface type computers to grade school kids. But the question you have asked has to be answered, Were in the crayon/pencil/typewriter/mainframe computer technological spectrum do we reasonably start using these tools. And how do we use them. Since the start of computing, often there were students more knowledgeable than their teachers, because computers were a limited resource that most teachers did not have access to. That gap will start to narrow now that affordable computers are becoming ubiquitous. Sure there still will be gaps, because not everyone, ie "artsies", has the temperament to be comfortable with computers.

cbermund
cbermund

One thing I remember from early education is "Experience is the best teacher." I think this is specially true in science learning. Tablets or other computing devices are simply tools to enhance or complement learning, although perhaps soon to be the main platform. But guess what and who created the computer?

Slayer_
Slayer_

Or how the old folk on TR got through without computers at all. I think I'd have trouble not playing on my tablet in class. After all, I hated most of my classes. But, on topic, I don't think giving them all iPads will hurt their learning any more than we all managed before iPads. Kids will listen in the classes they like, and fool around in the classes they don't like. Same as always. The other trend bothers me more, schools requiring iPads and laptops, and forcing the parents to provide them. Ouch! Computer labs were handy, they guaranteed every student, rich or poor, had an equal opportunity. They also meant that you could only use a computer, in courses that require a computer.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

looking up all the rude words you know in a dictionary, to see what they mean. One of those doodles, could end up being a work of art or even more useful. "Oh look he drew a triangle" points out Pythagorus' mum to his dad.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

By parents... Pulease! The no child left behind thing has never done anything for me, seeing as the guvmint turned that to no child gets out in front. The education establishment is not about kids learning, it's about kids passing exams. If the exam question is name all the presidents of the US, or all the bones in the human body, how you learnt it is irrelevant. Parents teach their children about sex. Bollocks, (what's a bollock dad?), parents choosing not to say crap based on the retarded idea that if we don't tell them, they won't think of it themselves would be more correct wouldn't it! GIven the US's penchant for toddler beauty contests withe how they look in a bikini, may be starting sex education earlier would be a good thing. At least they'll know why some weirdo is slavering at them... Here's a truly scary thought. Learn about sex from the internet on your tablet. Anyone fancy that for their child?

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

is very much the business of district IT, no matter where it happens. If they are doing something inappropriate with it or putting inappropriate content on it, no matter where or when, then you should discipline.

weeeezzll
weeeezzll

But if you give the kids pencil and paper they will doodle endlessly, write notes, and create smashbooks. Maybe we could remove those unnecessary distractions and everyone could just go back to learning via storytelling around a fire by the village elders?

weeeezzll
weeeezzll

...that post like yours are out numbered by techonophobic post on a website called TechRepulic. I mean seriously...if people are scared of technology what are they even doing on this website in the first place?

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

We don't learn basic arithmetic to make sure we have a "career" opportunity in the retail industry. This is the argument retailers put forward so they can have an abundance of people who can drive a cash register and so pay them less. Now self service tills with scanners are coming in, cash register drivers are being outmoded and you now have a bunch of people who are completely f'ing useless because they can't add up without a cash register. Possibly carrying the argument too far, but it's the one that gave us cookie cutters and paper MCSEs. It's not education, it's maximising shareholder value...

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

When I went to School or Uni for that matter it wasn't enough to be able to give the correct answer to any Mathematical Question you had to also demonstrate that you understood how you got that answer. Quite often you would get higher marks by showing the person marking the paper that you followed the right steps but made a simple error like subtracting 2 from 2 and instead of coming up with 0 you entered 1 or some other number. But back then having a Slide Rule in an Exam was considered cheating let alone a Scientific Calculator which would have got you suspended immediately without any questions being asked. Now that Scientific Calculator is a [b]Must Have[/b] and the right answer is all that is important with no marks for showing how you achieved the answer. Today I very much doubt that the average student even understands how to work out a simple Logarithmic calculation on paper let alone use one of those Obsolete [b]Moving Stick Thingies[/b] which can not be used to add or subtract anyway so they are useless to begin with. So with the way that things have changed in the Education System personally I would be surprised if anyone actually cared how the answer was achieved provided that it was right of course. Col

HGunter
HGunter

The only worthwhile outcome is the student learning how to think. This requires understanding what you're doing. Knowing how to get a machine to calculate an answer leaves one in the position of the shop assistant who had to get the till to work out that the change from a $2.80 purchase when the customer had tendered a $50 note and 80c in change was $48. I did not make this one up. Knowing how to look up a fact on the Web does not equip the looker-up to extend the information in any way. Granted, learning the principal exports of country X is pointless - the correct answer is probably different this month, anyway. Knowing how things work, though, allows the option of making them work better. Allowing those who can learn such things is an important aspect of education. (And learning the principal exports of countries may interest a budding economist or accountant - we need them as well!)

ITassasin
ITassasin

And isn't it the role of educators to choose/guide students with regard to learning?

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Without calculator as well, not exactly a plethora of books about either, except pehaps log tables... Course in my day, if you chose to fart about in class, you got a thick ear and ejected. You got to stand up in front of your class mates and prove you had listened, or advertised your incompetence to all your peers. Do I despair that we have generations who can't figure out 7 * 19 without a calculator, certainly but far more of a concern is the society that deemed that acceptable....

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

If I have seen further it is by standing of the shoulders of giants.

weeeezzll
weeeezzll

...they are accurate, and help to eliminate many of the costly mistakes that people make, and they speed up the process. Can't miss key a price if you scan a barcode. Can't lose 10 or 100 on a transaction because your employee made a perfectly normal mistake of forgetting to carry a value. Beside, I bet you'd stop shopping at a store if you had to wait for the cashier to add up each persons purchase on pencil and paper. Ain't nobody got time for that!

coco6809
coco6809

America changed for the better when the industrial revolution came along. We no longer did things by slow hand processes. It got more product to more people faster and cheaper. And it created new jobs to create and maintain the machines. You could make an argument that people no longer know how to pick and process corn or wheat by hand. But not knowing it has not hurt society. What we need to know is how to use the "tools" of the day. Look at checks. Most stores will not even accept them anymore. It must be cash, or credit/debit cards. And we no longer get copies of checks back in the mail. Times change and we must be able to change with it. If we keep teaching children how to do long division on pencil and paper, we do them a disservice. I know on no job (of any large number) that requires that skill. So why spends days doing it? When was the last time you used trigonometry tables from a book? Most kids can outdo most adults when it comes to computers. But that is because of games. Why not use a technology that children embrace to help them learn? There is room for the best of both, not the exclusion of one. The future is changing whether we like it or not. Let's help our children to be ready for it when they become adults and enter the workforce.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Type in a wrong number, press the = button, get the "wrong" answer, and then they write a misspelled, grammatically incorrect letter to the manufacturer saying their gadget is broke...

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

You can't make someone want to think, and I've never been sure our educators, or at least the people who fund them, want their pupils to think. Want them to pass exams, believe in what they believe in,be a good drone in the workplace, that I believe. Does being able to use a tablet to do long division, make you more intelligent, intellectual, a better learner, more knowledgable? At best iffy. More able to take your place in the society, the powers that be have planned? Probably. More technology dependant Absolutely. It's cheaper, easier and quicker to teach long division via technology. Better though, I disagree.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

What order, quite likely. Censorship due to political, religious pr philosophical beliefs, absolutely not. That isn't education. it's indoctrination. Whether its' a faith based schools, commercial sponsorship or crap like no child left behind = no competition. It's unethical and cowardly

weeeezzll
weeeezzll

...computers in the 80s/90s, and pocket calculators in the 70s/80s (and probably abacuses)...but still we manage to produce generation after generation of competent people who push our knowledge leaps and bounds ahead of the previous generation. What I fear more is a generation that values wasting time and effort on calculating stuff like this in their head or on paper, where simple mistakes like forgetting to carry a value can throw your answer wildly off...instead of using an efficient and accurate tool for the job.

SKDTech
SKDTech

I was bored to tears and usually at least half asleep in junior and senior high school. At least with a tablet I would have had something to keep me awake. Not that I am endorsing the issuance of tablets to all students. I was one of those rare people that could answer any question about the subject discussed while I was snoozing, making it difficult to prove I hadn't been paying attention

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Bar code scanning, don't even need to know how to use a calculator now. Just to be able to read the strange green squiggles. Course it's too late the adjust the "education" program to cut out wasteful rubbish like basic arithmetic. Now we scan our own stuff through, don't need a cash register jockies. Better still we don't need to be able to add up either, just pop your card in and enter your pin. In fact don't even need to do that! So we can leave all that numbery stuff to rich people eh?

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Anyone who can do long division on paper can figure out how to do it on a calculator. The reverse ... What do you learn about multiplication by a reciprocal by simply battering numbers in a calculator.\ No I don't remember the industrial revolution, I'm not that old. However I am a keen student of british history, and to claim that the industrial revolution was to benefit the five year olds they used to clean the machines with while paying their parents naff all, is beyond stupid. Any further arguments remember I am self educated, not indoctrinated by corporate sponsored muppets. The benefits of mass production coupled with rampant consumerism, are open to debate.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

Did all of that except write a letter to the maker complaining that it's Broke. I thought that they sued the maker because they broke it. ;) Col

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

I wrote my first program in 1976 in 8 bit machine code and loaded it in with 24 switches and a button. I did need to know what registers were, I wanted to know what registers, what's more my teacher wasn't uncomfortable with actually mentioning that they existed. Perhaps your schooling system never went as far down this crippling route as the english one, they've certainly put some effort into reversing this stupidity in recent years. When people in power say someone doesn't need to know something, they are not thinking about that someone, I'm surprised you haven't managed to figure that out yet..

weeeezzll
weeeezzll

Where is this generation of idiots who will sink society? Every generation goes through this. People were convinced in the 60s and 70s that the world was doomed, because we had a generation of "lazy hippies" there were going to be taking over the reigns. Yet here we are in a world run by many of those hippies. The foundations of multiplication take about 2 days of class time to explain to elementary age students. This generation of people who can't multiply without calculators only exist in your head. The fact of the matter is, most everyone can go to a store and figure out how much their total would be if they bought seven $19 shirts. You are probably confusing "can't multiple 7 * 19 without a calculator" with "prefers not to multiply 7 * 19 without a calculator". Besides, your a developer, and you lean on tool all day long and don't always understand the foundations of how they work, but I bet your still competent enough to produce useful software. You don't need to know how a processor shift values around in registers to write a program that adds two variable together. The fact that you are a developer is taking this position is kind of suprising.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

If we had to think about doing them all the time, we wouldn't have time to think about sex.

Slayer_
Slayer_

And I have no idea how my brain does that.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Who are these people pushing the frontiers of knowledge, who don't know the foundation of their own discipline. Name one.

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