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School computer technology, necessary?

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by lee_44106, Sep 7, 2006.

  1. lee_44106

    lee_44106 Well-Known Member

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    It seeems like there is very much emphasis nowadays over how well equipped each school (elementary, junior high, high school) is as far as computer technology is concerned. I just came across a news piece about such schools fully funded by the Microsoft foundation, where practically everything is computer driven, and each "lucky" student gets a free laptop. I just wonder how important all this computer emphasis is to the real "education" of students. Aren't they still learning the basic reading, writing, 'rithmatic that you and I grew up with?

    I can see computer use (more like internet use) facilitating searches for humanity subjects, but does a laptop contribute that much more to how one learns Spanish, biology, trigonometry/calculus...etc?
     
  2. j

    j Well-Known Member

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    Computer fluency is important to every job now and in the future. I'm still amazed when I see today's kids that don't really know how to use a computer for basic tasks. I can only think how crippled they will be when they are expected to use one all the time in college and pretty much any job they will get.
     
  3. lee_44106

    lee_44106 Well-Known Member

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    How much "computer literacy" does one need anyway?
    -typing?
    -surfing the net?
    -using word processing/spreadsheet?

    MY point is that it's fine to teach basic computer skills, but does having the latest generation of laptops for each student really impact that much on their education? A lot of so called "necessary computer skills" most folks pick up as they get older, I believe. The emphasis on latest technologies comes at the expense of the basics. This is especially true when we hear that high school students manage to graduate despite lacking the corresponding reading/writing skills. But who cares about reading/writing anyway, as long as they can peck away on the keyboard doing IM.
     
  4. LabelKing

    LabelKing Well-Known Member

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    I suppose computer technology is what typewriter typing used to be.
     
  5. acidboy

    acidboy Well-Known Member

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    I suppose computer technology is what typewriter typing used to be.

    on a sidenote, i sure wish most schools bring back typing lessons in school.
     
  6. LabelKing

    LabelKing Well-Known Member

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    on a sidenote, i sure wish most schools bring back typing lessons in school.
    I heard that they have also gotten rid of cursive writing. Clearly, KennethPollock's recent thread-title was not off the mark.
     
  7. faustian bargain

    faustian bargain Well-Known Member

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    on the flip side, however, the internet has spawned a renaissance in written communication, albeit typed. think of it - ordinary people are writing (typing) much more these days than they have in generations.

    i doubt typing lessons will be necessary; kids pick it up automatically because they want to. hell i was pretty much a hunt-and-peck guy even after my high school typing class, until the internets made it desirable to know how to type in the dark (as i am now).

    cursive writing is quaint, now lifted to the level of an art form. it's the new 'calligraphy'. anyway it's harder to read than printing. it's a decorative way of communicating.

    /andrew
     
  8. LabelKing

    LabelKing Well-Known Member

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    I remember learning cursive writing. Fountain pens, however, are not used for print.[​IMG]
     
  9. Nantucket Red

    Nantucket Red Well-Known Member

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    I remember learning cursive writing. Fountain pens, however, are not used for print.[​IMG]

    In high school, my English teacher refused to accept any essay that was printed in block capitals -- a habit I developed from using ballpoints -- and demanded that I write everything in cursive. I have always been vain about my handwriting, and trying to write in cursive with a ballpoint frequently frustrated me to tears, so fountain pen was the only way to preserve my sanity. Because they produce a flourished line, they are best for cursive, but I won't hesitate to print using a fountain pen instead of having to touch a ballpoint with my bare hands.
     
  10. faustian bargain

    faustian bargain Well-Known Member

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    well we common folk who need to mark up drawings by hand use whatever mark-making stick is laying around, and we tend to write in print. (see the books by Francis DK Ching for example.) sometimes in all caps. in the olden days before computers, all architectural drawings were done by hand in block letters, because who wants to slog through a bunch of cursive notation that may or may not cause lots of change orders. there's less inherent potential ambiguity in print than in cursive.

    anyway, thank god for computers in this case. editing drawings by hand is the major suck.
     
  11. LabelKing

    LabelKing Well-Known Member

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    Well, my writing is not a proper cursive; it's more similar to this: [​IMG] Fountain pens, and their flex nibs are ideal for handwriting like this. As for printing, I've always found it extremely vexing.
     
  12. drake

    drake Well-Known Member

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    As a EE major and a Engineer that is intimately involved in creating techolgoy and using it, I can say this: Fuck no. Computers have no place in a classroom other than maybe some sort of vocational education courses. There really is no substitute for a black board, chalk, a printed book, and pen and pencil. All though my EE education I have never needed anything more than that, on a few occasions during lab work calculators or numerical analysis type of software is used, but not in lecture. Computers are useful tools once you understand the theory, but are nothing but distractions if you try and use them to teach or even aid in teaching. They really don't belong in classrooms. Gaaaahhh, fuck this shit, I hate how technology is used. [​IMG]
     
  13. briancl

    briancl Well-Known Member

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    It's like a car. It is really a good thing to have a proper education on how to operate it, but anything much beyond that is just helpful and not required to be productive.

    Teaching kids to use current technology is fine. Understanding enough basic concepts (how to type, how to use a word processor, how to search on the internet effectively) is enough, but using technology as a learning tool is just not really necessary at the K-12 level. It's also a waste of what small amount of resources are available to schools. The farthest I could see it going beyond where it was 10 years ago is perhaps an elective class on more advanced concepts. This, of course, would only be available in the latter half of high school, with the other specialized classes (auto mechanics, advanced art, etc)

    I remember when the debate was on having a TV in every classroom to aid learning. Eventually it will be a debate on integrating classrooms with each student's personal Ultimo Gizmo 5000 all-in-one pda/cellphone/mediaplayer/handheld computer.
     
  14. lee_44106

    lee_44106 Well-Known Member

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    I see this as another symptom of a larger disease process, that the American public in general wants quick fixes to every problem. As long as every student has a laptop computer, then all the woes of education (or more aptly, the lack of) will the solved. How naive. I truly feel bad for the districts with less financial resources having to waste money on this shortsighted idea.
     
  15. Dakota rube

    Dakota rube Well-Known Member

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    My youngest child is in fourth grade this year, and is very computer literate. Among her classes are both "keyboarding" and cursive writing. I never took a typing class until high school.
     
  16. j

    j Well-Known Member

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    Well, I guess we will need fry cooks and sanitation engineers in every generation, so maybe we should make kids stick with pens and pencils during the only time of day they are not screwing around on the playground or whatever....
     
  17. Huntsman

    Huntsman Well-Known Member

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    There definitely is a problem, as lee mentioned, with the mindset of computers solving the woes of the educational system. You can hear the computer ads all targeting parents with the notion that the computer will help the now smiling kids get better grades.

    The reverse of the coin is that a lack of computer skills will represent a hardship in every sense -- even an emotional one -- and that almost any semblence of participation in human affairs requires these skills. Imparting them at an age where the mind can uptake them easily is rational.

    The way to properly use computers in learning settings is to reinforce the idea that you use the thing to go further than you could before, and not just let the computer think for you, lowering the bar from a pre-computer era. I worked with some middle-schoolers from a very poor district, and they all had laptops, but couldn't spell 'google,' nor anything else, and used google as a spellcheck once they found it. Similar travesties are college students citing Wikipedia in research papers as a primary source, or doing PowerPoints and resumes with a wizard.

    My calculus classes were an excellent example of how to employ computers -- you learn the material by hand, you study by hand, you do the majority of the tests by hand. However, you also do projects and tests that would be wasteful tedium or nearly impossible by hand with your TI-89 or Mathematica. This imparts the necessary understanding of the material while showing how you can then apply technology to go further than you could have before -- raising the bar.

    Forcing students to do it all by hand doesn't open them to possibility; it merely mires them in the past. Allowing unfettered use and access allows results (not necessarily answers) without insight.
     
  18. Nantucket Red

    Nantucket Red Well-Known Member

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    In six years of studying university-level Japanese, writing by hand was required for four, including essays and presentations. The final two years required rather more sophisticated bilingual computer skills. In this case, both are essential to mastering the subject, and I use both handwritten and computer-based Japanese skills in a professional capacity on a daily basis.

    In some cases it's not an either/or situation.
     
  19. designprofessor

    designprofessor Well-Known Member

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    the campus I'm at is totally computer based. every student is issued a Dell laptop. Tests are taken via computer. Grades and communication by computer also.

    Is it effective? Yes and no. I lecture through power point presentations - a decade ago it would have been through 35mm slides.

    I'm now looking into downloaded text books and audio textbooks via ipod. the technology does not guarantee that the student will absorb the information, they may never crack the textbook either. when the technology works seamlessly its pretty cool! when there is a glitch, i'm back to the chalkboard -not bad either.

    I do not let them use the computers as I lecture. At any given time, half of them would be instant messaging and playing poker /solitaire.
     
  20. mrchapel

    mrchapel Well-Known Member

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    I do not let them use the computers as I lecture. At any given time, half of them would be instant messaging and playing poker /solitaire.

    I see this in every one of my university classes. I think in some respect, computers promote laziness in the sense that students are less inclined to actually open a book or see how something works because they can just find pictures on the internet. On the flip side, those who ARE inclined to do so, then the computer is a very powerful tool that can maximize their capabilities. Computers are very useful -- but they can also be a distraction from traditional, lectured learning, which, I feel, still has its merits.
     

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