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[ale] Cobb Laptop Deal

Mark Wright wrote:
> On Aug 15, 2005, at 6:17 PM, Geoffrey wrote:
>> Mark Wright wrote:
>>> I am glad the deal fell apart even though I am a former Evangelist
>>> member. ( Guy Kawasaki's old mailing list to promote mac info back a
>>> few years)
>>> I think that computers in schools are just another impediment to  a  
>>> good
>>> education.  I believe there is no teen in the metro area that  cannot
>>> operate a windows PC currently or passably given a day to  learn.
>>> Putting PCs in schools unless, they are used just to teach  coding or
>>> hardware design just takes away time from learning to read,  write  and
>>> do math.
>> This is just patently false.  I was totally against the cobb computer
>> debacle, but the computers in schools these days are used for a lot  more
>> then 'teach coding or hardware design.'  You don't even get the option
>> to take such classes until late in middle school.  So what do you  thing
>> the students are doing with the computers in grades k-5?
> They remove some of the grading burden for teachers.  All Cobb and  
> Cherokee grade schools use their computers mostly for a program  called 
> Accelerated Reader.  It was a "must have" at a private school  I 
> consulted for.  The teachers at this school went on and on about  how it 
> helped their students learn to read.  I was really excited to  see this 
> revolutionary teaching system that I was being paid to  install.  I was 
> never so disappointed.  It is nothing but a database  of questions for 
> books the school has to buy for their library.  The  kids read the books 
> and then answer the questions on the computer.   The computer automates 
> the grading and performance tracking for the  teacher.  The computer 
> does zero for the children.

Then you must not have much experience with the Cobb school system. 
Full disclosure, my wife has been teaching in Cobb for 15 years.  I KNOW 
what they use the computers for and you are well off the mark.  Grant 
it, a lot depends on the teachers, but then they get no training what so 

I'm not saying the system is perfect, but I get real tired of folks 
bashing the whole system because you have a hand full of lousy teachers 
and a boat load of apathetic parents.

> Years later my second oldest nearly failed reading because she found  it 
> too tedious to go in her spare time to the library and take the  easy 
> tests even though she read the books.  I suppose more PC's in  the 
> school would have given her less of an excuse but so would a  teacher to 
> deliver the few questions.

So you're telling me that the teacher used accelerated reader for 
grading purposes.  I don't know what county that was, but it is not used 
in this way in Cobb.  It is a tool to provide initiative to read and to 
enhance reading.  Recognition is placed on those who obtain the most points.


> I have been closely involved with computers and schools and I don't  see 
> the need.  Knowledge gained from a library book usually lasts  longer 
> than google answers.  I have been to plenty of dog an pony  shows for 
> education software and I have also come in a year or two  later to 
> replace the dusty unused equipment with yet another  "latest  answer" 
> for lagging test scores.

Right, if they're not used, how are they going to help?  I'm not a big 
fan of educational software, most of it is lousy.  But there are good 
ones out there that can make a difference.  Further, the teacher must 
not simply rely on the tool.  The tool doesn't teach, the teacher does.

>> Further, you make an assumption that every teen in the metro area has
>> access to a computer outside of school, and that is also false.
> No I didn't.   I just believe with all the electronic toys even the  
> poorest kids in Atlanta have, that adding Windows skills to what they  
> already know is trivial.

You are not talking about the average child.  You need to revisit your 
demographic data.

>> Don't get me wrong, I don't think the computers in the schools are
>> properly utilized, but they do a lot more with them then you've  stated.
>> I do realize there are all kinds of problems with computers in  schools.
>>   Teachers get little or no training, there is little or no support,
>> poorly designed network infrastructure...
>> Computers can be used as a good educational tool just as books, chalk
>> boards, white boards, overhead projectors..... are.  In a lot of cases
>> they are.
> I think this is conventional wisdom.  Computers are expensive, I use  
> one to be more productive therefore my child who needs to learn to  read 
> better and master algebra needs one.  Besides if our kids aren't  
> getting the grades we want we gotta do something.

Please do not try to patronize me.  I know more about this subject then 
you could possibly understand.  I do not think that slapping a computer 
in front of a child is going to make them read better, anymore then 
slapping a book in front of the same child will make them learn math.

The key is, it is a tool.  In properly trained hands, it can make a 
difference.  If you would like, I will schedule a day where you can sit 
in on my wife's class and see how a computer will enhance learning.

> I think a computer  
> makes a good carrot in a classroom but not a good tool.  That is a  
> general tool such as a pencil or a black board or a book.  It makes a  
> good specialized tool.  If you want to learn HTML it helps.  If you  
> want to add some web resources to a lesson it helps but as a tool to  
> teach math skills it falls way short of a teacher.  I have supervised  a 
> complete 4th grade curriculum delivered on a PC. It is just a book  that 
> can grade itself.  The some students did well with it most did  not.  
> Most kids need more teacher time.

I do not think that a child can sit in front of a computer for a whole 
year and come out ready for the next grade.  A computer is just another 
of the many tools available and when used properly, they will enhance 
the learning experience.  Can you teach someone algerbra without a book? 
  Sure, but the proper tools make the learning easier and the teaching 
more effective.

> I mentioned the carrot above. The most effective use of computers I  
> have seen was a teacher that let her class play educational games on  
> them if they did there work fast enough.  It had to be correct.   Mostly 
> the boys in the class were working to get PC time though.  the  girls 
> needed other incentive.

There are better uses for this tool in the classroom.

Until later, Geoffrey