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SCHOOL-IT  April 2005

SCHOOL-IT April 2005

Subject:

Re: The role of K-12 education

From:

Adam Provost <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

School Information Technology Discussion <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 15 Apr 2005 13:36:19 -0400

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text/plain

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Wow. In so many ways I'm so sad that I was working my way through the
plague and took a 'listserv' break over the last week. Great
discussions.

Apologies for the long rant here in advance.

Diversity is the key. People will not always setup that database in
Access 2003 and that french fry machine running the mac os that Bjorn
mentioned will be running an os in the future that was invented by
Seymour Papert's 3rd graders who are using object based programming
tools to make an operating system (on macs and pcs btw). The children
that are being taught 'computer apps' in 9th grade this year at some
sites - learning to use email and to type more words per minute will be
working for those little programming third graders hopefully.

I observed my nephew writing a paper the following way: Sitting at a
computer desk, dvd concert of the Who on tv behind him, 5 browser
windows open, IM, Open Office, Word, FrontPage, and was speaking on the
phone while he, gasp, wrote a paper on Constitutional Freedoms and
Citizenship & Equal Justice. He wrote the paper by collaborating with
three classmates on IM, checking web resources, heard a great album - I
mean dvd, found out who just got expelled from school because they got
caught putting an m80 in the toilet in the boys locker room, and he
found out the red sox won that night before I knew.

I asked my nephew about computer access at his school (which is in VT)
and he said the following " Kids don't use them. They are too slow. The
machines are all locked down. Most of the courses move too slow and
don't do anything creative." I asked him to name a course that he liked
in technology in school. "Photoshop" he said. "One semester and lots of
here's an idea and a tool type instruction. He showed us examples and
then let us create. We were assigned a photoshop tool we hadn't been
taught and were asked to report on it. That's not the best course I took
though" he said. "The best course was when I lived with you for a
summer. You forced me to use different tools to do the same tasks. That
was like a mind stretcher for sure."  "Like for sure" I said with a
California surfer accent and he flashed me the 'dork face' at me.

I told him he was a good kid but I still wouldn't give him $10 to go to
McDonalds but would go down stairs and eat some leftover roast beef with
him. A real Tasters Choice moment. Whoops, that's advertising. Before we
dined on leftovers he donned an ipod and went for a run while he
listened to his girlfriend read via mp3 The First Freedom by Nat
Hentoff. "She was reading it anyway so I got her to record it" he
grinned and told me. "Saves me a bunch of time."

Oh to be so young again.

Using computers to teach conceptual math for instance (why is the
numerator over the denominator anyway right ?), allowing creative
development and experimentation - using computers for something other
than a research tool (which is probably 20% of it's function) is where
education should head.

Let's all make a content free web page in our new computer lab !
kkkkththtggggggththththhhhhh. That's the closest thing I can write to a
choking sound. One of the assignments we've used on a few IS students
here is to have them take a current assignment and make the worst web
page possible out of it. They love it. We look at it, talk about why
it's bad, have a great laugh, then we throw it away. Then we ask them to
make a good one.

The world is changing but not the model in which education is
delivering technology to kids. Ok, it's changing, but just moving too
slowly. Duke's ipod project is innovative and kids and instructors are
having a blast ( http://www.duke.edu/ipod/ )

By not looking ahead to one to one computing and still being determined
to chain computers to desks to be used 324 educational days over a three
year period (by utilization studies anyway) is the issue.

Technology is important. Technology instruction is important.
Technology support is important. The article Frank mentioned was a good
read. The world is changing (
http://wwww.alwayson-network.com/comments.php?id=9594_0_5_0_C ). We'd
better change too. Can't remember the last time I loaded any arcnet
drivers. I don't recall ever having gone to school to master Microsoft
Sid Gen either - because it didn't even exist back then. A good bunch of
people taught me how to learn though, and I'll be forever in debt to
them.

With a 25 station conventional computer lab costing over $90 per day to
run, my advice is that we stop drafting another technology integration
matrix (at least for a while) and start analyzing curriculum materials
that can be delivered digitally. Add up the cost savings and then see
how far away you are from one to one computing at your site. The numbers
just might surprise you.  Add in the professional development explosion
that's happened in Maine ( www.mainelearns.org  ) as a result of one to
one initiatives and that schools in Australia are reconfiguring schools
with one oval conference table, chairs and bean bags to accomodate
funding requirements for one to one initiaitves because the results are
so good.  Kids can type papers on laptops at home and the professional
motivators can guide them during the school day to challenge the grey
matter and open up their thoughts and perspectives to  a broader world.
Rant rant rant. Whooh.

Buy different operating systems. Use imaging technology to repair
stations and let kids experiment. The mac vs pc debate is irrelevant.
Kids should use both and with a lofty set of goals beyond basic use and
requirements to access info and develop content on them. Here's one: Ask
students what a teachers technology professional development goals
should be. Wonder what they'd say ?  What's so unprofessional about
asking ? ; ) As a non-certified unprofessional, one of my most
facinating debates with students at SBHS is to have them evaluate the
technology standards and related matrix docs and professional goals.
Fascinating conversations. I'd recommend trying it.

Apologies again for the rant. I've been quite sick with this nasty flu
buggy thing as of late and have been reading the Lord of the Rings -
those three books about all those little Hobbits being trusted with so
much power and making such a difference in a big and mysterious world.

Think Spring !  aHdUmB.

Adam Provost
Bay City Rockers, SBSD












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