Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Education Technology News

Home Computers Equal Lower Test Scores 278

Posted by timothy
from the but-better-typing-speed dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Politicians and education activists have long sought to eliminate the 'digital divide' by guaranteeing universal access to home computers, and in some cases to high-speed Internet service. But a Duke University study finds these efforts would actually widen the achievement gap in math and reading scores. Students in grades five through eight, particularly those from disadvantaged families, tend to post lower scores once these technologies arrive in their homes."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Home Computers Equal Lower Test Scores

Comments Filter:
  • Well, no shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 19, 2010 @07:58AM (#32624238)

    Without a computer you have to learn how to think.

    • Re:Well, no shit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Saturday June 19, 2010 @08:50AM (#32624490)
      higher test scores != learning more

      More and more school districts and states are moving towards using standardized tests to measure "learning". If you only teach students to score well on those tests then they aren't "learning" as much as they are "memorizing facts". Teaching kids how to think, critical thinking, reasoning, etc will benefit them (and the rest of us) much more in the long run ... there just aren't any easy ways to measure that kind of performance.

      You teach a kid 'how to think' and then sit them in front of 'World of Goo', 'Gears', etc and you'll see they can 'think'.
      • by mantis2009 (1557343) on Saturday June 19, 2010 @09:10AM (#32624580)
        What's more important in life? Computer skills or getting high test scores?
        • by jimmyfrank (1106681) on Saturday June 19, 2010 @10:56AM (#32625146)
          definitely getting high... oh nm
        • by Joce640k (829181)

          Most of the "skills" they're learning aren't going to help them much in life. eg. Surfing for porn.

          • No, I think GGP was onto something. Take World of Goo for instance. Assuming you aren't already trained in structural engineering--or even if you are--how quickly you pick up on concepts, and how well you integrate them into your long- and short-term planning, and how well you remember those skills again later, these are all easily tested with what amounts to a physics sandbox.

            Granted, in the game they actually give you the things you need to succeed at the tasks they assign, which is so completely differ

      • Re:Well, no shit (Score:4, Insightful)

        by DaMattster (977781) on Saturday June 19, 2010 @09:52AM (#32624780)

        higher test scores != learning more More and more school districts and states are moving towards using standardized tests to measure "learning". If you only teach students to score well on those tests then they aren't "learning" as much as they are "memorizing facts". Teaching kids how to think, critical thinking, reasoning, etc will benefit them (and the rest of us) much more in the long run ... there just aren't any easy ways to measure that kind of performance. You teach a kid 'how to think' and then sit them in front of 'World of Goo', 'Gears', etc and you'll see they can 'think'.

        Test scores are a poor indicator of future achievement, this is why many colleges (even at the upper tier) only want to know that you took the SAT and could care less what the scores were. In fact, our school system kind of resembles the 1950s and 1960s without as much racism and segregation. It is perhaps the most backward piece of our whole society. Schools need to be dragged kicking and screaming into the modern era. It is not enough to mix technology with outmoded, outdated thinking. You can have all the fancy bling in the world, but if you use test scores as benchmarks without looking at teaching, you fail miserably.

        • by koreaman (835838)

          The bit about top schools not caring about the SAT is totally false. I got very mediocre grades (B average) in high school and got into some schools that should have been way out of my league (Carnegie Mellon, McGill, UIUC, huge scholarship from U. of Georgia, and others). The only remarkable thing about my record was a 2370 SAT score (not trying to brag -- it was pure luck if you ask me).

          • The only remarkable thing about my record was a 2370 SAT score (not trying to brag -- it was pure luck if you ask me).

            You youngins and your new-fangled new-format SATs. Back in my day it was 1600 or bust.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ultranova (717540)

        If you only teach students to score well on those tests then they aren't "learning" as much as they are "memorizing facts".

        They aren't memorizing facts, they are memorizing test question answers. There are two important differences:

        1) A fact is something you believe to be correct. A test question answer is simply what you need to write to a test paper to get a good grade, and completely unconnected to the rest of your internal model of the world - that is, you can believe things which directly and obviousl

        • Re:Well, no shit (Score:4, Insightful)

          by LordLimecat (1103839) on Saturday June 19, 2010 @12:06PM (#32625556)

          1) A fact is something you believe to be correct

          "Facts" correctness has nothing to do with what you believe. Facts are by definition correct.

          • by lawpoop (604919)
            Facts are a type of idea. Thus their very existence depends on *someone* believing them. They have almost *everything* to do with what you believe.

            Don't buy it? Go out and try to find a fact, and pick it up in your hands. When you finally do find it, post a picture of it on the internet.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              My cognition of a fact is an idea; the fact is not an idea. Are you saying that if I stopped thinking about my laptop, it would disappear?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rpillala (583965)

        You're on the right track here; I just want to give you some more ammo for when you discuss this with pro-test folks.

        High stakes testing causes districts to replace teaching with training, or more cynically, with test prep. Because the tests themselves are not designed as pure recall exercises, you cannot do well on them simply by memorizing facts. Test prep in this case consists of finding a low level way to respond to a question designed for high level thinking. The levels to which I refer come from Bl

      • by DesScorp (410532)

        higher test scores != learning more

        Yes, they do. I see people knocking rote learning here, but the fact is, rote learning is an invaluable method of retaining facts, and is the best way to conduct early math education. The old pros were right about "drill till it kills" for basic math. It's also the only way you're really going to learn an extensive list of things like important dates and events. So if you're scoring higher on a standardized test, then yes, you're definitely learning more.

        Now, does that mean rote learning is the ONLY way we

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by apoc.famine (621563)
          Nope. You're mostly wrong.

          Rote learning, for SOME PEOPLE, is a great method of retaining stuff. For a lot of people, it doesn't do a damn thing. It's pretty well established that there are a lot of different learning styles. Rote learning works well for only a couple of them.

          Additionally, higher test scores don't have a lot to do with much of anything related to learning. My master's thesis looked at whether or not kids even tried on the standardized tests in school. About 30% tried. The rest just blew
    • No quite (Score:4, Insightful)

      by arpad1 (458649) on Saturday June 19, 2010 @08:58AM (#32624524)
      It's not the computer that's at fault but the people who are responsible for the idea.

      The "activists" contribute their moral outrage but don't much care if the kids actually get an education. It's the opportunity to display moral outrage that's the pay off for the activists. If the kids don't learn anything that's another opportunity to display moral outrage.

      The politicians want to look like they're doing something and preferably with other people's money - getting something for nothing, even something useless, is politically worthwhile. Does it matter if the kids learn? Obviously not.

      There's really only one group that has an unquestionable claim to be concerned primarily with education and that's the parents. They're not consulted because they might ask uncomfortable questions like "Will the computer do anything worthwhile?" Neither the activists nor the politicians are interested in having to answer questions like that.
      • It's not the computer that's at fault but the people who are responsible for the idea.

        You're absolutely right! I've been itching to blame Charles Babbage and Alan Turing for something ever since I took my first programming class 31 years ago. I'm off to Wikipedia to add this to their pages.

        • by Glonoinha (587375)

          ever since I took my first programming class 31 years ago

          Pascal or Basic? I ask because my first official programming class was 27 years ago (and it was taught using UCSD Pascal.)

          • Basic. My high school used to 'time share' on some 'big iron' at a local military base. We used a teletype-like console and stored our programs on paper tape. We also had some RPG fundamentals, but not too much.
      • by rpillala (583965)

        There's really only one group that has an unquestionable claim to be concerned primarily with education and that's the parents. They're not consulted because they might ask uncomfortable questions like "Will the computer do anything worthwhile?" Neither the activists nor the politicians are interested in having to answer questions like that.

        Many parents want the appearance of success, whether there is actual success or not. Grades are important, and it's important that their child not be given a zero, ever. I had a student this year who missed finals week because she had gotten into a fight over the weekend and didn't want to come to school for a week. I had a parent whose son failed for the year who wanted the class removed from his records so that a failing grade would not appear.

        I know you said "group" and not all parents are like this,

    • TV's Rot You Children's Brains!!

      er... I mean computers

  • from the article (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mikesd81 (518581) <mikesd1NO@SPAMverizon.net> on Saturday June 19, 2010 @08:00AM (#32624252) Homepage
    what it boils down to:

    Vigdor and Ladd concluded that home computers are put to more productive use in households where parental monitoring is more effective. In disadvantaged households, parents are less likely to monitor children’s computer use and guide children in using computers for educational purposes.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Holy shit, the parents are responsible?!?!?!
      No way man!
      • by mikesd81 (518581)
        Well they are. But kids are going to be kids and if there is no role model to teach the kids to work hard and study, then what do you expect? It's not the computers causing the problem so much as the fact that kids will slack off if no one is there to teach them that they need to work for what they want.
        • by Glonoinha (587375) on Saturday June 19, 2010 @09:59AM (#32624814) Journal

          Perhaps the parents are using the computer as a cheap babysitter, the way our parents used the television.
          I guess the difference is that television in our day was somewhat educational.

          I can see where 8+ hours a day of the kind of interaction common to WoW or IM would be a mind-numbing experience, eventually dumbing down a person.

          • by ClubStew (113954)

            That, and you have to question how much time was spent on social networking sites as well. I know of a lot of people with similar "disadvantaged" backgrounds that waste their days away on Facebook et. al.

            Besides, they should be reading more /. and other real news sites!

      • Holy shit, the parents are responsible?!?!?!

        No. RTFA. The parents are NOT responsible. That's the problem. Duh.

    • by ShakaUVM (157947) on Saturday June 19, 2010 @08:20AM (#32624342) Homepage Journal

      >>In disadvantaged households, parents are less likely to monitor children's computer use and guide children in using computers for educational purposes.

      Which is why the entire digital divide issue is stupid, in my opinion.

      Unless a kid is growing up without any exposure to computers at all, he'll be technologically proficient by the time he graduates. Study after study show that using technology often hurts, instead of helps, student performance.

      I say this as someone who teaches teachers how to use technology in the classroom, and I start every lecture by saying, "Only use it when there's a damn good reason to do so."

      And there *are* good reasons to do so. Sometimes. But the way that most schools use computers is nothing short of neglect.

      • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday June 19, 2010 @08:50AM (#32624488) Journal

        I find there's often no good reason to use a computer. I see people with their $200 PalmPilots and it takes them twice as long to make notes as I do with a free pencil-and-paper. I see students carry laptops into classsrooms and same deal - they are slower than old fashioned note taking

        Internet-capable devices are good for lookups of wikipedia, but I doubt that's needed in a classroom setting below grade 9. The computer becomes a way to goof-off.

        • Re:from the article (Score:4, Interesting)

          by mikael_j (106439) on Saturday June 19, 2010 @08:54AM (#32624506)

          The advantage isn't with the original note-taking moment, it's later when you want to organize your notes or re-use something you wrote down. If you wrote it down on paper you can either write it down again or you can scan it and use OCR software on it (most likely having to correct the output anyway). All of a sudden the computer is faster...

          Also, for text-only notes I type a lot faster than I write with a pencil and paper, taking notes using pencil and paper is for me mainly something I do when I need to make quick sketches and graphs, if I'm writing something I'll do it on a computer.

          • by Lawrence_Bird (67278) on Saturday June 19, 2010 @09:51AM (#32624772) Homepage

            Yes sure, people *really* organize those notes afterward.. like putting them in a folder called eco101? I had a notebook called eco101 too.. shockingly I was always able to later find my notes from that class without any problem.

            • How much time do you spend looking for a particular concept you gave two months ago? I know that having PDF copies of my books helped immensely.

              I too write notes manually, but I'm planning on buying a nice digital pen so I can get them in digital too.

          • >>>it's later when you want to organize your notes or re-use something you wrote down

            I've never done that in my whole life. Well almost never. There are a few times I removed the sheets from the notebook and reoganized them, but most times I just keep them in chronological order. As for "reuse" that could be considered plagiarism, since most of my notes are direct quotes from the professor. It's often better to just rewrite.
            .

            >>>I type a lot faster than I write with a pencil and paper,

            • by Kijori (897770)

              >>>it's later when you want to organize your notes or re-use something you wrote down

              I've never done that in my whole life. Well almost never. There are a few times I removed the sheets from the notebook and reoganized them, but most times I just keep them in chronological order. As for "reuse" that could be considered plagiarism, since most of my notes are direct quotes from the professor. It's often better to just rewrite.

              If that's true then maybe it wouldn't be of any use to you, but I've just finished writing a dissertation for which I had several hundred pages of research and by the end I was wishing I had OCRed everything. Trying to find one specific quotation from somewhere in three ringbinders of notes and photocopies is exactly the sort of thing that's hard - and boring - for a human, but easy for a computer.

            • by mikael_j (106439)

              I've never done that in my whole life.

              You didn't, I did quite often. Also, at work it's a necessity of life.

              As for "reuse" that could be considered plagiarism, since most of my notes are direct quotes from the professor. It's often better to just rewrite.

              Sounds like you could've just brought a camcorder if that's how you took notes...

              I type pretty fast as well but not as fast as scribbling cursive across a page.

              Three questions. One, can you read your scribblings later? Two, why do I get this strange feeling you don't really type all that fast if you can write cursive faster than you can type? Three, how can you consider typing more stressful for your hands than writing with a pen? with a pen you have to "draw" each character, when you type you just hit the right key

          • by tomhath (637240)
            I read a study a few years ago of high performing college students. One of the behaviors they found most often was the the top students transacribed their notes after class. Organizing them electronically might help you find something later. But reading, understanding what you wrote, and writing it again helps you remember it much better.
            • by mikael_j (106439)

              Copying my notes later never seemed to work for me, possibly because I tend to just kind of "zone out" and copy them letter for letter without any thought to the content, I just want to get it done so I can continue with my work (which requires the new copy of the notes).

          • by Pharmboy (216950)

            Actually, writing your notes twice would probably insure you would never need to refer to them ever again. The act of writing notes itself makes us more likely to remember what we wrote, and doing it twice surely should have a modest increase in memorization of the facts written.

            I still take notes now during meetings and such, not so I can organize them, but simply to reinforce it in my mind and reduce the need to refer back to notes, and yes, I take the notes on dead tree with a real pencil.

      • >>In disadvantaged households, parents are less likely to monitor children's computer use and guide children in using computers for educational purposes.

        Which is why the entire digital divide issue is stupid, in my opinion.

        Unless a kid is growing up without any exposure to computers at all, he'll be technologically proficient by the time he graduates. Study after study show that using technology often hurts, instead of helps, student performance.

        I say this as someone who teaches teachers how to use technology in the classroom, and I start every lecture by saying, "Only use it when there's a damn good reason to do so."

        And there *are* good reasons to do so. Sometimes. But the way that most schools use computers is nothing short of neglect.

        Because performance at the college level requires a computer. You aren't going to be able to get anything done if you don't use a word processor, Google, Wikipedia, along with using the library. The simple fact is most kids don't know how to properly use a computer to study, or how to properly use a word processor, or how to properly find books in a library, or how to properly cite sources in MLA format, or how to properly educate themselves.

        It's not the technology, it's the children not knowing how to use

      • " Study after study show that using technology often hurts, instead of helps, student performance"

        I believe this has to do with the lack of GOOD quality education software. Check this out for instance... we desperately need more projects like this.

        http://www.fas.org/immuneattack/ [fas.org]

    • It's up to the children to use the computer to educate themselves. Parents cannot teach kids to do this. It should be schools that teach children how to browse Wikipedia and what to search for on Google.I was a "disadvantaged" youth who used the computer and the library to make it through the school system and graduate college. It can be done.

  • I'm sure parenting has nothing to do with it, right? The mere presence of computers must be the only factor here.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I think TFA makes the point that in disadvantaged households, parents are less able to pay attention to their children, and not necessarily because they are bad parents. People with low incomes often wind up working jobs that have unusual hours (i.e. hours that do not sync up well with the hours that a child spends at school), unusual days off (so that weekends may be spent working), etc. Sometimes people are forced to work more than 40 hours, possibly split across more than one job, to make ends meet, an
  • Maybe (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Presto Vivace (882157) <marshall@prestovivace.biz> on Saturday June 19, 2010 @08:11AM (#32624300) Homepage Journal
    our obsession with school test scores [dailyhowler.com] is not such a hot idea.
    • Re:Maybe (Score:4, Interesting)

      by SimonInOz (579741) on Saturday June 19, 2010 @10:03AM (#32624832)

      I seem to recall "Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance" was very down on the idea of tests in school.

      Wonderful book. And no computers at all.

    • A nation of engineers who can't invent anything but who can build everything.
      Thats not to say China hasn't invented anything in the past, but the proof is in the pudding. If test scores mattered then the Chinese would be inventing everything.

      Test scores do not matter. Test scores wont make you a better computer programmer, or a better creative writer, or a better athlete, or a better artist, or a better psychologist, or a better doctor.

  • the tests are wrong and not the children?

    • by pizzach (1011925)
      I think the issue is that the children don't become stupid until they take the tests.
  • by muridae (966931)
    I would have read the article, but between the title and the text was an advert for some new ADHD medicine. "Are your child's ADHD symptoms controlled . . . even after soccer practice?" I got distracted by the shiny Flash advert telling me to take more drugs.
  • Takes time to adjust (Score:4, Interesting)

    by syousef (465911) on Saturday June 19, 2010 @08:32AM (#32624388) Journal

    I wish the luddities would stop trying to blame the technology. It's here to stay. Get over it. If you're seriously telling me a 16 year old without exposure to computers is better off in the modern world, I'll ask you to please dispose of the drugs.

    If you have a 10-14 year old who suddenly gets access to a computer and all the distractions that come with it - games, (and shock horror porn if they can get to it0 etc. - you can expect a dip while the child adjusts. If the same kid had grown up with these things it'd be no big deal. I don't doubt that cable TV would have the same effect. All these things require some supervision in their use. But then so does a soccer or basket ball. Kids can find that distracting too.

    • it all depends how they're used of course.

      I was exposed to computers from the age or 2 or 3 onwards.

      I was way ahead in math starting school(and because of that ever onwards right through university) because of a simple little math game my dad installed which someday I'd like to track down or re-create since it was fantastic for teaching basic math and holding the attention of a 3 year old.

      I'm also well aware of the time that can be eaten up by flash games and more conplex games with almost no benefit.
      wiki t

    • The child can get access to a computer when it is needed by going to the public library or most likely the school library. Anyone over the age of..35? should remember going to the library to take notes or get source material for a project. I don't think many kids have been to one lately as they are more than happy to cut/paste without any question of the source.

      PC's and internet access teach NOTHING. Zero. And any material relevant to elementary/highschool education is readily available in print for fre

      • by Ash-Fox (726320)

        The child can get access to a computer when it is needed by going to the public library or most likely the school library.

        I sincerely doubt I would have mastered m68k assembler at 11 years old if I had to do that or even came close to it, especially with limited time allotments and what one was allowed to do on computers.

        I don't think many kids have been to one lately as they are more than happy to cut/paste without any question of the source.

        I remember most of my peers at a younger age only wanted to play

      • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Saturday June 19, 2010 @11:41AM (#32625414)
        "PC/internet is more like the effect of electronic calculators on the ability to basic math by hand or in ones head."

        That really depends on the child, teachers, and parents. For example, when I was in middle school, one of my teachers taught me a technique for computing square roots by hand, to arbitrarily many digits. I immediately began testing myself using a calculator, which helped to reinforce what I had learned (I would also amuse myself by computing more digits by hand than the calculator could process). In high school, I began using a geometry program on my computer to study constructions, beyond the very basic techniques that were taught in class -- and one of my teachers gave me hard/interesting problems to work on.

        I might be an outlier, of course, but the problem is not PCs or calculators. The real problem is that a lot of schools are failing to use computers in a way that reinforces knowledge or helps build understanding. This might be an artifact of the approach we take to schooling, that it is just job training, and thus teaching how to use a calculator is to compute answers is more prudent than trying to get students to understand anything.
      • The child can get access to a book when it is needed by going to the public library or most likely the school library. Anyone over the age of..35? should remember talking to a teacher to take notes or get source material for a project. I don't think many kids have been to one lately as they are more than happy to hand copy things from a book without any question of the source.

        Books and libraries teach NOTHING. Zero. And any material relevant to elementary/highschool education is readily available f

      • You can't say that PCs haven't improved upon the typewriter when it comes to writing an essay. And as I recall most school projects relied heavily on encyclopedias and wasting time making posters, which computers have thankfully made obsolete. A greater obstacle to learning is the artificial limitations placed on computers. Why aren't the contents of the library--the library of Congress, not the pitiful and very obsolete collection held in the local library--online rather than just dubious sources like Wiki
    • I wish the luddities would stop trying to blame the technology. It's here to stay. Get over it. If you're seriously telling me a 16 year old without exposure to computers is better off in the modern world, I'll ask you to please dispose of the drugs.

      If you have a 10-14 year old who suddenly gets access to a computer and all the distractions that come with it - games, (and shock horror porn if they can get to it0 etc. - you can expect a dip while the child adjusts. If the same kid had grown up with these things it'd be no big deal. I don't doubt that cable TV would have the same effect. All these things require some supervision in their use. But then so does a soccer or basket ball. Kids can find that distracting too.

      I learned about computers BEFORE I had my first computer. My exposure to computers was at the library, then it was at the computer clubhouse. I did get my own computer until I turned 17. By the time I got my computer I knew the internet would replace the library and that by having a computer I would have everything I would ever need to educate myself.

      I took advantage of the computer to educate myself BEYOND what I was being taught at school. I would go to school all day and be on the internet all night and

    • Re: distractions

      Maybe helpful - allow only educational games

      To game makers: after each level, player writes essay to advance, and stupid behavior from player to provoke a response does provoke a respones - uninstallation.

      It's a complicated world - parents can't always keep up with how to get their kids to work harder. Microsoft, please do more for the kids. Ideas:

      • Memory and hard drive space being so big, record what kids are doing with the computer so a parent can play it back.
      • Educational software that hol
    • by fermion (181285)
      There was a time when calculators were human and knowing how to do math with decimals could get you a good job. Now as long as a kid now 30/4 is between 7 and 8, that is pretty good. There was a time when being a being able to do drawn up handwriting could get you a good job. Now knowing how to type is important. There was a short time when most of our communicate was synchronous and voice based, and those that had that skill were able to get a job. Now we are back to the time of asynchronous written c
  • by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot@keirstea d . o rg> on Saturday June 19, 2010 @08:34AM (#32624404) Homepage

    Young children are thirsty for knnowledge. Anyone who has had any exposure to a 6-8 year old in the "why daddy" stage knows this. The problem is this is not fostered in many kids. If, at this stage, children are taught how to answer their own questions, using the tools available to them, then it will foster a lifetime of learning.

    This is what my parents did with me, although in my day it was "why don't you go get the encyclopedia and we will look it up together?". Nowadays it should be "why don't we go look at the computer together". Guided by a parent, from a YOUNG AGE, this helps in several ways

    - It teaches kids that, if they have questions, the materials are available to help them. They don't have to sit in ignorance just because they don't know the answer.

    - It teaches kids how to find information when they need it

    - It teaches kids how to think critically about that information, and discard the good from the bad.

     

    • Your post nails it. This is what makes the difference between kids who learn to self educate and kids who don't. I learned the hard way that teachers didn't like answering "why" questions when I got kicked out of class for asking too many questions.

      The internet never complained that I was asking too many questions and I took complete advantage of that.

    • by lawpoop (604919)

      Young children are thirsty for knnowledge. Anyone who has had any exposure to a 6-8 year old in the "why daddy" stage knows this. The problem is this is not fostered in many kids. If, at this stage, children are taught how to answer their own questions, using the tools available to them, then it will foster a lifetime of learning.

      I don't really think kids are interested in how things work at this stage. They want *answers*, not *understanding*. What I believe is happening at this stage, in terms of evolutionary psychology, is that they are becoming enculturated into the cosmology of their tribe, so that they are on the same page with everyone else. They want parents or someone to just give them the answers. And this is as it should be. Then they can start having adult conversations with people, using the same vocabulary and realm o

  • World of Warcraft
  • Do they test skills like being able to effectively research topics on the internet, write extended reports that make good use of various media, use spreadsheets or algorithms to model and investigate math problems?

    ...because if they don't, and instead focus on rote learning of little atoms of technical information (like being able to solve a quadratic equation that just happens to factor nicely) then what possible combination of misconceptions could lead to the idea that using a computer would improve perf

  • by whizbang77045 (1342005) on Saturday June 19, 2010 @09:07AM (#32624554)
    We somehow take technology, and expect miracles from it, far beyond what the users are capable of doing. Computers are tools, and they are only going to produce what the users are willing to invest in them of their time and effort. Disadvantaged kids need to learn how to study and investigate, before they will be able to use a computer to its potential as a learning aid. If they don't read or investigate now, computers aren't going to produce some sort of overnight change.
  • Ender's game (Score:5, Informative)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Saturday June 19, 2010 @09:07AM (#32624558) Homepage Journal

    Here is the problem.

    A child, that is not supervised to do anything that even closely resembles some sort of work on a computer will spend it on whatever this child finds to be the most interesting thing.

    There will be many slashdotters here, who will say: "but I grew up with a computer in the house, maybe with more than one computer, and I learned on it."

    These people are correct. It is possible to learn with a computer. However their circumstances, like my own, were limited to a small number of things that we could do. I didn't have access to a real computer until about 12, but I was interested in them by reading about them and learning how to do things with them on paper. I made programs and my first programs were some games, I made them on paper and later was able to transfer those into a real machine.

    The kids who grew up into /. readers are in their very late twenties to their very late thirties, these had computers in the house in eighties - nineties, we had computers that ran much simpler operating systems and there was not such a clear abundance of actually very user friendly and easy stuff to do, except for pretty good 2D games actually. These kids were obviously from a bit more affluent backgrounds, many saw their parents use computers for work, but this is not necessary.

    So these kids, who became interested in the machines, found the most interesting thing to do with their computers was to try and create stuff, to produce things with computer. Sure they plaid games with them, but they also tried writing their own games. They wrote tools, text editors, calculators, drawing programs, they built stuff with computers, added their own extension boards, it was interesting, it was something that could be shown off to the peers, at least to those who cared, so this was also a way to achieve some status among peers.

    If at the time the computers were what they are today: very powerful tools with very advanced user interfaces that provided tens of thousands if not millions of different ways to work with the machines plus the ability to socialize in hundreds of ways on line, ability to download music/movies/games within minutes or hours of appearance of new titles, ability to interface with computers through phones and have it all synchronize, if at that time the games looked like they were built by multi-million dollar Hollywood studios, it would have created the perception (maybe partially correct perception) that one person's ability to try and manipulate these complex networked nodes with 3D graphics engines was no longer accessible to a kid.

    The operating systems of today go beyond simple DOS so much, that a kid could not do much with those directly because it takes a million of human lives to learn them.

    Beside that, there are calculators, wikipedia, sites that offer to do your homework, p2p, where answers can be probably found and downloaded and shared further, there is facebook/myspace/whatever, there are all these tools that can do work for you and there is no TIME for anything between all of the tweets and twats on line. Though we did have chatrooms, BBSs and IRCs.

    I think the Ender's game had an idea that made sense, I am sure it's not the only book that had that idea of a network that is created on purpose for education only.

    The kids, who have nobody to guide them about how to use the machines they are given for learning at least should be put into position where learning is what they are pushed to through the kind of a computer/network system that they would be allowed to use.

    The computers for kids that are expected to learn something, should be different from the 'normal' today's machines, they should be simpler in terms of software/hardware interaction, at least there should be a way to switch between a full crazy modern OS and a simple OS for learning about how the computers work. The network should be designed for learning. There should be things to do in it that would not give out answers but that would pro

  • Cause or effect? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday June 19, 2010 @09:11AM (#32624588) Homepage Journal

    There are several problems with this:

    1 - The group being tested is predisposed to lower grades.
    2 - The actual use of the home computer ( games, etc instead of work )

    Guess it still holds true you can make any study say what you want, they are all lies.

  • Computers and technology in gerneral is not a replacement for quality instruction. Unfortunately, this emphasis on technology as a way to overcome poor instruction is failing miserably. In schools in neighborhoods with more money, I see these fancy electronic Blackboards, whiteboards, and course management software which all amount to precisely nothing if the teacher is unable to present the material logically, cohesively, and in a manner which can be understood. This is not to stay that technology lacks
    • The reason that 'the best' are not going into teaching is because it rewards poorly as a career.
      The money sucks, you have to deal with people's undisciplined brats, you get blamed for kids' failures (instead of the kids and parents getting their fair share of the blame)....

      About the only benefits are job security (which is evaporating slowly) and 3 months off during summer--(which is also evaporating as schools go 'year round').

      Not only that, as a teacher you have to endure the meddling and mandates of everyone who wants to 'fix' the educational system, until you are a powerless mouthpiece for the official doctrine, and must also deliver the dogma-of-the-week in a specified manner.

      We get bad teachers in this country (USA) because we have made it a TERRIBLE job.

      If you make it HARDER for people to enter the career, as you are proposing (without offering ANY incentive), you won't have ANY TEACHERS AT ALL, NOT EVEN BAD ONES.

      --PM

      • by rpillala (583965)

        You've only named the tangible benefits. I stay in teaching because it's a lot of fun and personally very rewarding. Being present when a child goes from not understanding to understanding is a great experience. It's like watching babies take their first steps, but all day every day, and with more interesting learnings.

        I think you've touched on something else, which is the existence of bad students. At some point (in the 80's?), it became taboo to say that students could be bad. I'm aware there's an an

  • by DarkOx (621550) on Saturday June 19, 2010 @10:31AM (#32625022) Journal

    Educators need to stop thinking that some how another computer or faster connection is going to some how be a panacea for their problems teaching. The computer is just a tool and nothing more, it might help when properly employed but its not going to do anything but harm in the hands of someone who does not know how to use it. Primary school is a case where the computer and Internet are simply not needed, possibly useful but NOT needed.

    The basics of mathematics, English, physical science, and history are all easily contained and since they don't often change maintained in books. Over the course of the better part of two centuries many in this country have successfully gained a good liberal studies background using only books, face time with instructors, and where appropriate hands on experience. The reasons for the achievement gap, at least at the primary school level, don't have much to do with access to technology. Learning is a discipline. It takes work to learn, even for those who don't need as much drill an practice they still have to be willing to invest the mental energy in thinking about the subject they are studying in a critical way and attempting to relate that information to what they are learning in other subjects.

    The problem is the underprivileged class in our society is largely surrounded by a culture which does not value discipline, work, or even simply curiosity. In many cases it glorifies failure and dependence. Its no surprise to me that technology makes scores worse in such an environment. There is little you can wrong with a book on mathematics except fail to read it, and maybe if these kids get bored enough they give a problem or two a try, get a sense of some achievement if they have any success. The computer on the other had provides an infinite amount of distraction and virtual assures they never give algebra a second look.

    If we want to plow tax dollars into education than we should focus properly. We should get these kids some good text books. We should attack the culture of failure and dependence. We need to be politically incorrect enough to tell these kids its bad to be on the dole because you are not in control of your life someone else is and if you have any dreams at all you need to be self reliant. Lets read Ralph Waldo Emerson in the second grade rather than high school even if we have to read it to them. Lets get some teachers hired who are paid well enough to spend some serious time with a small enough number of kids that they can use the Socratic method and are proficient in the subjects they teach. Lets stop advancing kids to the next grade when they have not mastered the material. That is how you fix primary education, high school yes kids need to learn to use tools at that point but they first have to understand what the tools are for and that is where we have been failing.

    • bad to be on the dole because you are not in control of your life someone else is

      Being on the dole gives you way more control than being employed (notice the passive tense) unless you are in upper level job of which there are only a very limited number; and if we dispense with political correctness, most of these jobs will simply not be available to poor children. The rest of your post I agree with, except teaching that bullshit Emerson wrote.

  • Did they test those same kids for computer literacy before and after they got computers in their homes?

    Computer literacy is an important skill. In today's world it is possibly more important than elementary math or spelling, as it to a large extent can substitute for either skill.

    Trying to get entry level pseudo professional jobs, computer literacy is more important than the difference between a diploma and a GED. It is more important than how quickly you can add, subtract, multiply or divide. It is more

  • when I was 15 and I had my first PC, I did nothing with it except playing games and my grades nosedived... But gaming brought me together with people who did creative stuff with their PCs (on LANs) - Level-editing, programming, webdesigning,... they inspired me, I started programming myself and today I am a graduate computer scientist who used and still uses the internet heavily for learning.

    So yeah, Computers can be bad for your grades, if you don't do anything than playing games anymore, but they can h
  • That is a misleading title, subject-line. TFA says that it's particularly true for disadvantaged families. Further the researchers "concluded that home computers are put to more productive use in households where parental monitoring is more effective. In disadvantaged households, parents are less likely to monitor children's computer use and guide children in using computers for educational purposes."

    Now what are the results for children of more affluent parents or parents who spend more tyme with their c

  • No wonder my test scores suck. :P Let's go back to pencils, writings, fingers, toes, etc.

"There are things that are so serious that you can only joke about them" - Heisenberg

Working...