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Education Technology

No Child Left Untableted 214

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-your-device dept.
theodp writes "Made possible by a $30 million grant from the Dept. of Education's Race to the Top program, the NY Times reports that every student and teacher in 18 of Guilford County's (NC) middle schools is receiving a tablet created and sold by Amplify, a division of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. The tablets — 15,450 in all — are to be used for class work, homework, educational games — just about everything. With a total annual per unit lease cost of $214, Amplify was the low bidder of those responding to Guilford's Race-to-the-Top RFP, including Apple. Touted by Amplify as one of the largest tablet deployments in K-12 education, the deal raised some eyebrows, since Guilford's School Superintendent once reported to an Amplify EVP when the latter was the superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, coincidentally a proving ground of the Gates Foundation. Amplify and the Gates Foundation are partners on a controversial national K-12 student tracking database that counts the Guilford County Schools among its guinea pigs. Getting back to the hardware, after putting their John Hancock on a Student Tablet Agreement and the Acceptable Use Guidelines for Tablet, students are provided with an ASUS-made tablet "similar to ASUS MeMO Pad ME301T" ($279 at Wal-Mart). The News & Record reports on some glitches encountered in the first week of the program, including Internet connectivity issues affecting about 5% of the tablets."
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No Child Left Untableted

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  • Maybe linked to the Race to the Top website, a link to the definition of "annual"?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 15, 2013 @09:36AM (#44855833)

    What we really need is well paid and highly motivated teachers with small class sizes. Not yet another way for students to play angry birds.

    Of course the ones making decisions know this, but they're happy taking the tech sector money. And a class full of little kids with tablets make good press and website pictures.

  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @09:39AM (#44855855) Homepage

    That headline fills me with unease. Sounds vaguely improper.

    Maybe I'm just getting old but in my days, children were simply never verbed. It isn't polite.

    • "Today in class, we are going to learn how to English! Please pull out your copy books."
    • The whole summary is a mass of vague insinuations trying to make you think something bad is going on. The deal "raised some eyebrows". The company selling the tablets is part of a "controversial" program using students as "guinea pigs". 5% of the students had "glitches" with internet connectivity during the first week. Gasp! Clearly this whole program is evil and corrupt!

      In short, this is someone trying to push their own opinion about something while disguising it as news

  • by Lawrence_Bird (67278) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @09:39AM (#44855859) Homepage

    per year out of tax payer pockets. Please stop doing it for the children because everything you do sets them back even further. Smaller class sizes? Boon for teachers union, bane for tax payers. Students? Show me the improved test scores. New math? Fail. "Smart" classrooms? Fail.

    It remains fact that students pre WWII were better educated in every discipline. The US has sunk hundreds of billions of dollars, if not trillions, over the decades to "fix" education with absolutely no positive results. Perhaps it was not broken in the first place.

    • by MacTO (1161105) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @10:02AM (#44855993)
      The [i]fact[/i] is that students [b]pre[/p] WWII were better educated in every discipline because people dropped out of school. Prior to the second world war, the high school graduation rate was virtually always below 50% (contrast that to over 70% today). Even citing a figure that high is misleading because the graduation rate had been consistently increasing from 10% to 55% between the wars and there were a substantial number of drop-outs as early as the elementary grades. And all of that assumes that they were better educated. Much of the knowledge that we feed to students today was being developed during WWII, so those pre-war students could have hardly learnt it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by stewsters (1406737)
      I'd wager a highschool kid with a computer and a programming course could do more math problems per hour than a million pre WW2 students. Things people learn change as the importance changes. Most college students know more calculus than Archimedes, does that make them better at math? Measuring knowledge across time is not a valid test.
      • by iggymanz (596061) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @10:37AM (#44856185)

        No, your average US high school student lacks basic principles to do math, let alone make algorithms to automate the doing of math. You imagine an average student could automate the finding of a square root with just addition and subtraction and multiplication and branch after compare being the only operations allowed? The average student has no idea how to find a square root by any means other than pushing a button on a calculator, but even then could not give any situation where a need for a square root would be useful.

        • The average student has no idea how to find a square root by any means other than pushing a button on a calculator, but even then could not give any situation where a need for a square root would be useful.

          You touch on a topic that has come up in our own home more than once. I learned how to calculate a square root to arbitrary precision at school some decades ago. It was part of the curriculum for 5th or 6th grade then. Our kids do not learn it at school, even though one is presently doing her matriculation (final exams). It's apparently not in the curriculum any more, and I doubt whether many of the teachers could handle it. I taught our kids how to extract a square root [wikipedia.org] myself. They know how to do it in d

          • by vux984 (928602)

            I learned how to calculate a square root to arbitrary precision at school some decades ago. It was part of the curriculum for 5th or 6th grade then.

            And when i went to school we "learned" how to do trig functions from angles to 3 to decimals by looking them up in tables in the back of the book. Some things are obsolete. That's been replaced by calculators, and so has square roots.

            Square roots are one of them, the masses have a calculator to do that for them. And the subject of finding roots manually is now

            • by iggymanz (596061)

              You're avoiding the core issue, most of today's students have absolutely no idea what for what purposes in the real world the square root is useful. We won't even talk about ignorance of basic trignometric function uses. A person who can only look up any answer to a single fact can't connect facts in their head to understand an issue or solve a problem, because there is nothing there.

              • by vux984 (928602)

                You're avoiding the core issue, most of today's students have absolutely no idea what for what purposes in the real world the square root is useful.

                Not at all, my daughter's in grade 6. The year has just started but square roots and trig in are in the curriculum -- she wont' be calculating them manually, a scientific calculator was on her school supplies list. She'll be answering problems like "what is the length of a square field 5184 m^2, what is the length of a cube shaped box with a volume of 225 cm^3.

                • by iggymanz (596061)

                  square roots and trig are not in most United States public school curriculum, your daughter is going to private school?

                  • Squares and square roots (along with area/volume) and basic pre-algebra are covered in 5th and 6th grade public school, at least here in California. I haven't noticed any trig though.
                    • by iggymanz (596061)

                      yes, but was replying to a person about seeing that in 6th grade. It's not there in public school, I'd know.

                  • by vux984 (928602)

                    applications of squares and roots are part of the public school curriculum here (via calculator for calculation)... i overspoke when i mentioned trig... it won't be the periodic functions, just geometry (180 degrees in a triangle, finding the other angles from 2 or 1 in a right triangle; sin/cosine/tangent are apparently junior high, although tangent lines to a circle are covered in geometry.)

                • by drinkypoo (153816)

                  Being able to perform the manual process of finding a square root using the method the OP suggested is little more than magical incantation for a 6th grader. My daughter can do long division manually, but even that, she doesn't -really- understand WHY it works. And I don't recall knowing either when i was in elementary school either. Its just the ritual we were taught.

                  I have a (crappy two-year) college degree, and I don't understand why it works either. If a student gets out of public school with mathematics ability, it's not because the school gives a crap.

            • Three semesters of Calculus in college and I don't recall solving any square roots. Checking my textbook (I saved it for some reason), its covered in chapter 3. Just goes to show that I haven't used it since then and that I tend to block out the bad memories of taking Calculus (I barely passed it).
            • If I we're on a desert island and was going to find roots (any root, not just square roots) manually today, I'd probably use newtons method if i needed precision, or an intuition guided "binary search" if I was trying to do it in my head and just needed to be in the ball park.

              I think you'd be better off using a shovel.

        • The "official" way of finding a square root in school was to use a calculator. My teacher at the time said that it is one of the few things in math they prefer to completely automate since it is time consuming to do it by hand. Solving by hand went by the wayside before affordable electronic calculators, its one of the reasons why the slide rule was invented.
    • [citations needed]
    • by mysidia (191772)

      Amplify was the low bidder of those responding to Guilford's Race-to-the-Top RFP,

      So being the low bidder is all that matters?

      That's easy... put Linux on it; or make it out of paper [funnyordie.com]

    • by fermion (181285)
      First, money down the drain. In any corporate venture acquisition costs are only part, and often not the majority cost, of utilizing a capital item. For instance, when I was working at a University about 50% were added to most purchase orders to pay for acquisition and running costs. At schools, which tend to pay for future costs, such as maintenance and supplies, out of the current budget, initial purchase prices always seem a bit high.

      Second, I would strongly argue that pre WWII people were better ed

    • by argStyopa (232550)

      Or perhaps the answer's not (as the teachers' unions have asserted) simply to keep pouring more cash into the system - particularly when they're going to waste it on ipads.

      Personally, I'd rather see more arts and humanities programs in schools than another class equipped with ipads.

      • Teachers Unions don't want "more money" for the sake of "more money". They one one of the few things to actually have shown to generate better student improvement: Smaller Class Sizes. Now, that means more classrooms, and more teachers. Which, does tend to cost more money.
        • by dk20 (914954) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @02:11PM (#44857449)
          Are you sure?

          see my post:
          My kids were sent to school in China for a few years.
          While China may have the largest primary class size (37.1 per class) the kids found it much much easier when they came back to Canada.
          Class size wasn't the issue, the work was challenging and the environment was strict.

          Do you have any empirical evidence smaller class sizes pays off? Here (Ontario) they state 90.1% of classes have 20 or fewer students.
          When the kids came back to school here they found it a joke. What they were teaching in Ontario was at least one year behind what they were studying when they were in China.
    • Two Seconds [classsizematters.org] of googling. That said, have been going down because we're admitting more people, and those people aren't as wealthy so they don't have access to a full time parent, a nanny, and tutors. They're often more or less on their own. Basically, we expanded education to everyone but we didn't expand all the advantages afforded to the rich and powerful to them. If you think about it it's common sense. Dump a bunch of under privileged kids into underfunded schools and what do _you_ think will happen?
      • by g01d4 (888748)
        Really? You might have spent three seconds and found something a little less biased [brookings.edu].

        Class-size reduction has been shown to work for some students in some grades in some states and countries, but its impact has been found to be mixed or not discernable in other settings and circumstances that seem similar. It is very expensive. The costs and benefits of class-size mandates need to be carefully weighed against all of the alternatives when difficult budget and program decisions must be made.

    • by dk20 (914954)
      We do the same thing here (Canada). Year after year we are told part of the problem is "large class sizes" and how we need to hire more teachers and reduce this.

      My kids were sent to school in China for a few years.
      While China may have the largest primary class size (37.1 per class) the kids found it much much easier when they came back to Canada.

      Class size wasn't the issue, the work was challenging and the environment was strict.

      Put a Chinese student up against any other and measure the results
    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      It remains fact that students pre WWII were better educated in every discipline.

      It remains a *fact* that in the 1930s 1 in 20 adults were completely illiterate [ed.gov]. By 2000, that number was closer to 1 in 1000, and concentrated among people who are over 65 years old. In the 1930s, well over half of all teenagers dropped out of school, in 2013 that number was down to 22%.

      The US has sunk billions of dollars over the decades to fix education, and as a result the population is much better educated today than it was 75 years ago. That's part of why the US has the most productive workforce on th

  • I don't see how politicians think a tablet/laptop/computer/ebook reader will make students better. Our students are getting worse because of the pervasive attitude that's it's not cool to be good in school. We need to change this perception and reward students who try really hard and/or do well in school...right now it looks like they're just throwing money at a problem to see if it helps and it also seems like they're helping out one of their buddies who's benefitting from this ludicrously expensive leas
    • Re:No Correlation (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Livius (318358) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @10:03AM (#44855999)

      I don't see how politicians think a tablet/laptop/computer/ebook reader will make students better.

      Manufacturers have lobbyists.

      Students do not.

      Whose lives do you think politicians are really trying to make better?

    • by dfghjk (711126)

      "We need to change this perception and reward students who try really hard and/or do well in school..."

      That won't be successful as long as the rewards "we" offer are not the ones students want. Education is a cultural issue and our culture is one of lives getting easier and lazier. It will never be "cool" to pursue what your peers don't want.

      Good education requires the expectation of achievement that children take as a given. Instead, we publicly value ignorance over education and today's parents were spo

  • by jones_supa (887896) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @10:05AM (#44856013)
    The summary has 15 hyperlinks! *head explodes*
  • by plopez (54068) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @10:05AM (#44856017) Journal

    Will they only be allowed to visit the Fox News site for current event assignments?

  • I've stopped even trying to address the absurdity of these initiatives. There will always be administrators looking to get attention with big splashy purchases for no particular reason. I don't see any way to stop it.

  • A tablet per child sounds like a ridiculous way to spend money, but a valid point brought up in a previous article [slashdot.org] suggests that perhaps a donation is/was made that cannot be spent on any other budgetary concerns. So....kids get tablets.

    Perhaps this can be a good thing though. If we can get a gadget in to every child's hand maybe we can force the hand of major textbook publishers and get them to put out electronic copies of their books that are actually usable. I dont mean "Here is the foreword for the boo

    • by DogDude (805747)
      Oh, just stop with the "dead tree" and "5 lbs" garbage. Not everybody is a fussy little primadonna that is afraid to carry around a few pounds of real books. There's nothing wrong with using actual textbooks for teaching children. The last thing kids in modern society need are *more* gadgets.
  • This is a well known fact. Personal electronic gadgets can only distract, or make the learning process more efficient, reducing mnemonics that help retention.
    • Funny I got tested years ago as a child and retain much less while taking notes.Some kids learn that way they really need to stop pushing the one "true" method as there is none.

  • by Negroponte J. Rabit (2820825) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @10:18AM (#44856103)
    The federal government is *leasing* tablets from a division of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation at a cost of $200 per year.. Not buying..... LEASING!!! For $200 per tablet. Let's see how Fox News deals with this WASTEFUL GOVERNMENT SPENDING!
    • If you follow the money trail, you will likely find one of the decision makers on pushing this forward has a monetary interest in this whole scheme. Sort of like how the biggest opponents of drug legalization have shares or outright own prisons and drug testing facilities
      • Maybe, but I'm assuming that this company did in fact come in with the lowest bid. To be fair, having parents who've been teachers, schools spend A-LOT of money on *CRAP* - CRAP standardized programs, CRAP books, CRAP software, CRAP consultants, CRAP tech, CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP! I was amazed to hear what one school paid to have specialized desks built, each with an embedded CRT and a PC with a RealMagic Hollywood card to play DVDs, and a huge 64-port Cisco router for the 15 or so machines, apparently
  • No Child Left Untableted

    Right, and to hell with the homeless and other chronically underutilized who have already endured so many years of frustration and unhappiness? Too late for those fuckers so screw 'em, right?

    It's ageism again.

  • by CaptainOfSpray (1229754) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @11:49AM (#44856635)
    Obviously they've got money to burn, the fools.

    For their "total annual per unit lease cost of $214" they could buy 5 Raspberry Pis at Adafruit, and OWN THEM OUTRIGHT instead of the devices still being on lease so they have to pay $214 every year till the supplier is fat and happy.
  • by peter303 (12292) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @12:24PM (#44856897)
    Said pre-recorded lectures would revolutionize education. Every home should have one. Hwever his competitors discovered that entertainment was more commercially viable.

    Every new media invention in the past 140 years has been promoted as an education aid with varying success.

    P.S. Edison originally invented the phonograph as a means of cramming more information onto a telegraph. You'd record message on a phonograph, send them at high speed across the wire, record them at the other end, and play back at human readable speeds. Wires were a precious resource in those days.
  • The "Tablet privacy policy [gcsnc.com]:

    No Right of Privacy
    tablet technology users have no right of privacy in their use of tablet technology or the content they access using tablet technology

    Review and Monitoring of Usage all tablet technology use may be reviewed and monitored without notice by GCS administrative staff for any reason, even use that occurs on personal time or off school property.

  • Remember when Newt Gingrich was so roundly ridiculed for wanting to buy laptops for schoolkids?

    Now school districts worry about the price and fairness of the contract, rather than whether we should or not.

    • by gmhowell (26755)

      Remember when Newt Gingrich was so roundly ridiculed for wanting to buy laptops for schoolkids?

      I think he earned greater ridicule for his plan to have children earn their free lunch by sweeping and mopping the schools.

  • INBLOOM OFF THE ROSE? [politico.com]: "Another state has pulled out of using the Gates Foundation's $100 million technology service project, inBloom. The withdrawal further shrinks the project after other states pulled out in part because of concern about protecting studentsâ(TM) privacy. Guilford County, N.C. told POLITICO on Wednesday that the state decided to stop using the service, which is designed to hold information about students including names, socioeconomic status, test scores, disabilities, discipline rec

  • You know, we love our tech. I love mine. But back in the day, there was a reason they didn't allow students to use calculators in math class. Basic skills mastery are needed. How to use your hands to write is necessary. How to count and do basic math is necessary. How to spell is necessary. These basic skills most of the 40+ here take for granted is in serious trouble for those younger. When you see actual business reports contain "RU" instead are "are you" you have to face-palm at the very least.

    We

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