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Ask Slashdot: Is E-Learning a Viable Option? 349

An anonymous reader writes "My spouse, who is an elementary school science teacher, has had some experience in e-learning, since her school gave iPads to all the students. She found that students used these devices, not for school purposes like note taking, but for gaming, etc. It got to the point that she banned them from her classroom. Do technology aids help, or hinder, education? Is the idea that students can be home-schooled electronically realistic, or absurd?"
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Ask Slashdot: Is E-Learning a Viable Option?

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  • NO. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara.hudson@b ... u d s o n . c om> on Monday December 26, 2011 @01:10PM (#38494880) Journal
    This question has been answered MANY times. NO study has shown that students benefit - and many have shown that the diversion of resources hurts them. It's a dead horse. Stop flogging it and move on.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Yes, indeed.

      It also doesn't help that the discipline in schools is relaxing to an all-time low, and kids can wear hats and have cell phones and text and game all day and then tell their teachers to fuck off - and not a damn thing will happen to them once their parents threaten a lawsuit.
      • by ackthpt ( 218170 )

        Yes, indeed.

        It also doesn't help that the discipline in schools is relaxing to an all-time low, and kids can wear hats and have cell phones and text and game all day and then tell their teachers to fuck off - and not a damn thing will happen to them once their parents threaten a lawsuit.

        Where I work we expel them. Can't have the nasty buggers spoiling the greatest gift people will receive in their lifetimes, because their parents know fuck-all about raising them.

        • Unfortunately there's a very quick end to that process, in the UK at least - if all but one of the schools in an area expel a child, the last school have to take them on and try and teach them, and will face extreme pressure not to expel them. You end up with dumping grounds for the pupils no-one else wants, or at least you did where and when I grew up (East Midlands of UK, at school in the 90s).

          • if all but one of the schools in an area expel a child, the last school have to take them on and try and teach them, and will face extreme pressure not to expel them.

            The solution to that would be to ensure that every area has at least one Borstal. []

          • Maybe you should force the parents to attend school together with the children, then.
      • by EdIII ( 1114411 )

        That's why the technology is not the problem.

        We could take this even further and imagine a complete MS Surface desk that allows full interactivity, test taking, etc. Something like out of Serenity.

        The problem is the teachers. Without supervision a child is going to do what comes naturally to them, which is poor decision making. That's why they need supervision and guidance. Teachers walking around, giving a course lecture, asking questions, etc. is how real learning happens in a child's life. Real lear

        • Re:NO. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by joocemann ( 1273720 ) on Monday December 26, 2011 @01:50PM (#38495252)

          Actually, the parents are responsible for preparing the child to learn. The teacher is there to teach, not to motivate crappy kids from disinterested parents.... I will not hold that job to a teacher. Thats like expecting the police to be patient and guide punk brats to be good lawful kids... No. The cop is there to enforce the law, and if he goes out of his way to help guife in a lesson, thats a bonus.

          • by EdIII ( 1114411 )

            You're wrong, and being simplistic.

            Raising and teaching a child is a cooperative effort on the part of the teachers and the parents. Teachers are there to motivate students, to inspire them, and to figure out where attention is needed. That is the mark of a great teacher.

            Parents cannot teach as well because they don't have the time if they are working two jobs, and teaching is not so easy. A great teacher is not only educated themselves but understands *how* to teach a child.

            Where parents fit in is disci

    • by Praedon ( 707326 )
      Then you need to look at ECOT [].
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by tomhudson ( 43916 )
        You missed this part - their very first point:

        One-on-one attention from 100% certified and highly qualified teachers.

        That's not "e-learning".

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Praedon ( 707326 )
          You missed the entire point of ECOT all together, you didn't read how the vast majority of the time, the student is all on their own following the curriculum. Those with learning disabilities spend a little more time obviously with a teacher.
          • And how iis that any different from what was done in the Australian outback decades ago, over ham radios? They both need three things that the VAST majority lack today - parents who will actually pay attention to their kids' needs, teachers who can teach, and students who are motivated.

            elearning does nothing to fix this problem.

    • Re:NO. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdo ... g ['kis' in gap]> on Monday December 26, 2011 @01:26PM (#38495058)

      If you mean recent studies on iPads, yes, but there was some successful use of computers in the classroom in the 80s. Of course, it also depends on what you care about. Using Logo increased procedural literacy [], but whether Number Munchers increased mathematical literacy is more questionable. Iirc, the most positive effects generally came around long-term motivation rather than short-term imparting of facts; stuff like an oil-drilling simulation or Logo could help get kids interested in technology.

    • by ackthpt ( 218170 )

      Only works when the student has the aptitude for it. There are students who do better in the classroom with interaction with the teacher. Can't expect same results for the whole population.

    • by wwphx ( 225607 )
      Clif Stoll, author of The Cuckoo's Egg, wrote a book called Silicon Snakeoil about the over-promise of computers and their failure to deliver. He had a teacher friend, I don't remember what grade of elementary school was involved. Every year the teacher would split the room in to two groups to do a report on the same subject. One group used the library, the other group whatever they could use online. The library group, year after year, produced the better quality report.

      Problem is, the book is rather
    • by Wovel ( 964431 )

      How would you like to be refuted? Government or University research? Do you prefer research from public or private universities? US, Canda, or even Europe for fun?

      You should really watch extremist statements. They bury your point (the question over scarce resources may be valid) under a pile of your own nonsense.

      • Let's see the refutation. I'm in education and constantly am on the lookout for information on this topic. I've yet to see any studies demonstrating lasting benefits. But this isn't my particular field, so, despite my intense interest, I don't have time to do thorough research. So, if you know something, let's see it. It would do me a world of good.
        • I've only seen one variable consistently correlated with pupil achievement over a variety of studies: teacher enthusiasm. Interestingly, even teacher knowledge did not show a strong correlation - an enthusiastic but ignorant teacher will motivate the students to do their own research. That said, computers are tools, just like blackboards. A teacher can make effective use of them, ignore them completely, or use them to hinder learning. Some teachers used to write things on the board for pupils to copy do
      • You should really watch extremist statements.

        And similarly, you should provide a couple of links otherwise it looks like you guys are just shooting bullshit canons at each other. My gut feeling based on your two points goes to the other guy; but gut feeling is all we have to go on since neither of you cites anything. However, whatever study you cite I think it behooves you to also find out who funded it. There are a lot of studies espousing the benefits of technology that we end up finding were funded by

    • by sootman ( 158191 )

      There is no single answer. Many things work well for some people and not for others. And as with many things in education, it is NOT the tool (laptop/iPad/smart board/fancy new books) but the teachers and the structure that makes the difference. Bad teachers = no learning. Good teachers, hamstrung by a bad system = no learning. I know some people who have done horribly with nontraditional education and some people who have thrived.

      That said, this guy has had great successes with iPad deployments. []

    • NO study has shown that students benefit

      A good counterexample is software developed at MSU called LON-CAPA, which is used to help math and science students check their answers to homework problems. Here [] is a list of publications about the system. For an example of a study that shows there is a benefit, try D. A. Kashy, G. Albertelli, E. Kashy and M. Thoennessen, Teaching with ALN Technology: Benefits and Costs, Journal of Engineering Education, 89, 499 (2001) [].

      Another example that I've heard about recently, although on a purely anecdotal basis, is

  • Others claim to see improved student engagement with technology, and my feeling is that with enough resources you can get an improved experiences. I lean towards the opinion that for now the technology is not good value for money in terms of projects running now. On the other hand, now is a good time to be running small pilot projects in expectation that costs will come down, and software will improve.

    • You don't even need a lot of resources, you just need to utilize what you have effectively. Electronic aids are highly useful in most subjects, except for the most abstract ones, such as literature. Even in history, you can display a timeline of events, show tactical replays of battles, etc. When it comes to mathematics, the pros shine: projection allows the teacher to present a visual anchors for abstract concepts, such as functions and equations, so students can memorize methods much better.

      • by Xugumad ( 39311 )

        Okay, so I'm focusing here on the iPad example given in the story, which is fairly clearly making use of technology they had to buy in...

        Also, where does all this content come from? Are there rapid development tools that are suitable for most teachers to make this content with (in which case, please do tell me where!)? If not, are you suggesting an in-house content creation team (not too uncommon), or buying in external content (which is fairly thin on the ground still)?

  • by Dragon Bait ( 997809 ) on Monday December 26, 2011 @01:15PM (#38494932)

    I know 6 families that have home schooled with over half the kids now in college (other half still in high school). From my observations, electronics has very little impact or success or failure. Nearly all the success or failure is based on the parents: how serious they are about educating their kids, how connected they are with home school cooperatives, how much time their willing to invest. The complete failures that I've seen were easily predicable before the home schooling began (poorly educated parents, doing it for the wrong reasons, etc.)).

    • by Wovel ( 964431 )

      I agree. However, like the classroom, electronics can aid any competent and motivated instructor.

    • by zz5555 ( 998945 )

      All success in schooling (public, private, or home schooled) depends primarily on the parents involvement. I think there was a chapter in the Freakonomics book concerning this.

  • by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Monday December 26, 2011 @01:16PM (#38494942)

    in our math class.

    That didn't really say much about whether grid paper and pens were aiding or hindering our education.

    It possibly does say something about the quality of the teacher...

    • by artor3 ( 1344997 )

      There are things you can't easily learn without graph paper, and it's dirt cheap. There's nothing that you can't learn without an iPad, and they're expensive.

      • by Calydor ( 739835 )

        There's nothing that you can't learn without an iPad, and they're expensive.

        The value of non-walled gardens, and how to program iPad apps.

        Technically you could learn the latter, I suppose, but with no way of actually finding out if you're learning the right thing or misunderstood something.

  • by Praedon ( 707326 ) on Monday December 26, 2011 @01:16PM (#38494948) Journal
    My sister, when she lived in Ohio, had a learning disability. It wasn't until my family discovered ECOT [] that she finally had the fighting chance to graduate. They sent her a locked down computer, and gave her all the help and support she needed over the phone for all her lessons. Electronic home-schooling should seriously be considered all over the United States.
    • by morari ( 1080535 ) on Monday December 26, 2011 @01:36PM (#38495138) Journal

      Ohio has always been ahead of the game in terms of online charter schools. I was traditionally homeschooled for the better half of my academic career. My brother went through junior high and highschool using various online solutions. From my understanding, no one was a big fan of ECOT. They provided severely underpowered machines, which were in fact locked down too much. At the time, their bureaucratic setup was confusing and stifled learning. It may have gotten better in the years since, but I can't recommend it based on what I've seen.

      Following up on that, my brother also did two years with OHDELA. They had their act together much better than ECOT, but again, issued terrible hardware. This time however, it was a crummy iMac locked down even tighter than the Compaq mini towers ECOT gave out. Furthermore, OHDELA relied far too much on trying to simulate a traditional classroom. Mandatory chatrooms and timed virtual blackboards just got in the way of the original promise of working at your own pace. It may have benefited those that needed the help, but making it compulsory did more to slow my brother's progress than anything.

      His final time was spent with an organization called Buckeye Online. They provided a fairly decent laptop computer (completely open!) and relied more on bookwork. This was exactly what my brother had wanted all along. He wasn't chained to a desk or required to participate in some simulated blackboard environment. All he had to do was read the chapter in his text book and then submit the corresponding lesson electronically. He blew through the material and graduated one year earlier than he would have otherwise.

      Now again, a lot has probably changed since I watched my family work with these different organizations. Some may be better or worse than they were. Some of the points of contention that my brother had may be the exact thing that your child would prefer. The point is to study up on them before just blindly signing up. Most of them do offer seminars leading up to the traditional start of the school year. Go and listen, ask questions, discuss your concerns. It has been my experience that you'll usually have the ear of some of the more important people within the organization.

      So can students be home-schooled electronically? Absolutely. I would say that the benefits far outweigh any negatives. Most of the perceived problems that people have with homeschooling can be quickly and easily remedied if you're not a lazy parent. Having an online support system, as provided by these institutions, definitely makes things easier. It's still not something you can just throw and your child and expect to happen. It's a framework for the parents to work within, to help out, to expand upon, and to monitor. Of course, any parent who takes their job seriously would be doing that anyway, even if their child went to a physical school.

      • by Praedon ( 707326 )
        That was a very insightful reply. ECOT in the beginning, from what we heard before my sister came in, was really in shambles. By the time my sister started though, it was her answer to dealing with bullies, lack of public education attention, and she could work on things at her pace. Every once in awhile, she did have some issues getting a hold of teachers, but they were bombarded for the longest time. She was really proud of herself, for being able to accomplish her work using ECOT though, and it really im
  • Dreadful idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cohomology ( 111648 ) on Monday December 26, 2011 @01:16PM (#38494950)

    The kids who need help often have chaotic home environments. They need role models, not electronics. There is no technical fix.

  • Judging by my kids, the idea of home learning is absurd. Or at least it will require one parent to constantly supervise the home learning. Kids lack discipline and tenacity, they only learn those after growing up. So, if we are going to teach them boring stuff while they are growing, they need an environment that helps them focus on the matter at hand. I-products do not.

    I actually find it quite interesting how many different schools around the world try something like this. Wonder if any of these projects a

    • by iamacat ( 583406 )

      Homework/learning is absurd, therefore I am planning on sending our older daughter to a private school with 3-6 "homework club". By the time me and my kids are both home and have eaten dinner, it's 7pm. They need to go to sleep at around 9. We all need a break from work/study and general time together for at least two frigging hours per day. I am not surprised that kids fail in the environment where teachers are not able to educate them during 9 hours of school and after care.

      • Even that three hours of "homework club" is an absurdity. Your child would likely benefit far more from using those remaining daylight hours to socialize, run around outside, and have an opportunity explore her own interests. See Alfie Kohn's "The Homework Myth" for a very well-cited exploration of the research and a discussion of why the vast majority of homework is totally without merit.
  • My daughter has a master's degree in education. Her master's project studied distance learning for adults over the Internet. She found that Web-based courses can indeed be effective. HOWEVER, she also found that such courses are far more effective if the students and instructor meet face-to-face as a group about once each month.

    Distance learning can be very important for adults. For example, in some areas, doctors are required to pursue ongoing education in order to retain their licenses. For a doctor

  • The answer to your questions is yes it is a viable option in the classroom and for home schoolers. Your wife apparently is in need of in service training on classroom management. She is doing her students a disservice. They are all suffering because she does not have control of the class room.

    Technology is an excellent tools in the hands of any competent teacher.

  • by The Stranger ( 24022 ) on Monday December 26, 2011 @01:24PM (#38495042)

    The problem with many (maybe most?) attempts to put technology in schools and even home learning environments is that people don't think through the implementation. Technology is not magic. You cannot expect to get good results simply by dropping a chunk of technology into a classroom without spending a lot of time and energy rethinking how teaching and learning is going to work in that classroom. For example:

    What, exactly, is the technology going to be used for? No hand-waving general answers allowed here (e.g., "enrich content with interactive multimedia presentations" is a useless answer).
    In what specific tasks will the technology allow you to do something that would have been cumbersome or impossible without it (e.g., using graphing or numerical methods to approximate solutions to equations that are not amenable to the usual algebraic techniques)?
    What more interesting or more engaging problems can you now attempt to solve (that address your learning goals) that you would not have been able to attempt without the technology?
    Will you want to change or expand your set of learning goals now that you have this piece of technology? If so, how?
    How much instructional time will be needed to get the teacher and students working comfortably with the technology? Is the potential benefit worth that amount of time?
    How do you implement the technology in ways that do not detract from the learning you are trying to do (i.e., what are the unintended consequences)? How might you plan ahead for negative unintended uses?

    Almost every case I've ever seen or read about where technology was just dropped into an educational setting without painstaking planning and thought about curriculum and implementation, not to mention extensive training of teachers and staff, resulted in mixed results at best, and failure and rejection at worst. To answer the original questions directly, technology aids can help or hinder education- it's all in the amount of time, thought, sweat and tears that get put into the implementation. I won't comment more on the home schooling part of the question, as I really have no experience there (aside from supplementing my own kids' educations).

    • if i had mod points, i would mod you up. i couldnt have said it better myself. i spent some time working for a company that sold educational supplies and was part of the product development group. i was amazed when i first started at how much hardware was available to teachers, but how little software there was. and most teachers didnt have a clue how to effectively use what they had. we spent more time helping teachers develop processes and effective ways to use the technology then we did developing s
    • As a teacher I cannot agree with you more. Simply dumping technology into the classroom is worse than useless. Who tries to pick up the pieces and then gives up? The teacher! Who gets blamed for the "project" not working? The teacher! Who is given no training? The teacher! This is typical of most of the educational "innovations" that I have seen in 31 years. Show me a computer program that can teach Calculus/Trigonometry/Matrices better than I can and I'll resign tomorrow. Having said that I recommend K
  • If gaming is the distraction, perhaps the better way to hook the kids would be through game-based learning - see []
  • by rbowen ( 112459 ) Works for SourceForge on Monday December 26, 2011 @01:28PM (#38495078) Homepage

    I am perplexed by equating "e-learning" with "give every kid an iPad". If you give a kid a screen and make it under their control they will find the games. If someone is unaware of this, they probably dont have kids. But this is not unique to electronics. If you give them a stack of text books and no supervision, they'll make paper airplanes. Education requires supervision at that age. Putting an e- in front of things doesn't change human nature.

  • by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Monday December 26, 2011 @01:35PM (#38495136)
    Oddly enough if you hand out a device that happens to be an excellent toy to a bunch of kids things won't go as well as you might expect. Yet I have a simple solution. Move your desk to the back of the classroom. Unless your educational software looks like angry birds one glance will tell you if little Johnny is screwing around.

    I am the creator of Learn French by LessonStudio (shameless self promotion) which is a singleminded app that teaches basic French vocabulary and Grammar;. It follows some pretty basic modern educational science and personally I believe works rather well. Handed out to a class of kids they could probably absorb some French pretty quickly as compared to an equivalent textbook. But again I wouldn't hand the app out to the kids and leave them to their own devices(ha ha).

    At the same time I don't think that there is any complete end to end teaching system out there. Moodle is a mess for teaching. It does what it does well but it certainly is far far away from being some replacement for teachers. It is really only for administering a classroom. But great administration does nothing to improve the teacher. I pick on Moodle but all the systems that I have seen are aimed squarely at the bureaucrats that run the schools with only a nod to actual improvements in teaching. So based on the state of the art right now if I were a teacher I would not look for something where I could go home but a series of tools that enhance individual lessons.
  • I'm related to a couple elementary school teachers and there are some universal problem with i-devices:

    They come out of fed-grant or state-grant or capital budget to get the physical boxes. If you're extremely lucky you Might get grant / capital funds to buy tough cases and/or charging cradles. The kids will eventually destroy the charging cables by shoving them in upside down. Spend the money now, or later, your choice. The political types get more "points" by a press release that you have purchased 10

  • by Neil_Brown ( 1568845 ) on Monday December 26, 2011 @01:38PM (#38495170) Homepage

    I can only speak for myself, but I am enrolled on a distance-learning taught masters degree, which is taught solely over the Internet, and, on the whole, it has been a great experience.

    Without physical classes, I've been able to study whenever I have wanted - the term has a structure, with deadlines to be met, but, around those, I can work during times which suit me. Lectures are delivered in the form of podcasts, in 30 minute slots. These I tend to listen to when I am driving or ironing - sufficient to get the gist of the topic. I avoid taking notes, since I just want to soak up what is being said.

    The text book is delivered as a Word document, but quickly and easily converted to .pdf; other reading comes in whatever form in which it was originally provided (could be a link to a web page, or a .pdf download and so on) - again, all easily converted to pdf. These I read on my iPad (in iAnnotate) and mark them up accordingly; all synchronised back to my computers, to become searchable when it comes to thinking, and writing essays.

    Essays are written - unsurprisingly - on a computer, and are submitted electronically; I tend to use .pdf, but I am not sure what others use. These are all run through TurnItIn software - I'm undecided whether I think that this is a good practice or not, but, since I have no say in the matter (short of quitting the course), I can live with it.

    On the whole, a very positive experience indeed - I've studied on trains, planes as well as sitting at home, and have written essays in four different countries. The flexibility is great.

    There are some downsides, though - particularly around student camaraderie and discussion. Despite there being some great tools available, I don't feel that we've quite cracked the discussion / debate side of things yet. I've chatted with some of the students around the world via Skype, which has been very interesting, but, having encouraged mailing lists, real-time text chat, and now blog posts / responses and (*shudder*) a Facebook wall, nothing seems to have attracted critical mass which, for me, is a real shame - I value the ability to discuss and debate very highly, and I don't feel we've got this quite right yet.

    (It may, of course, be that few of the students actually want to discuss, and the distance-learning nature means that people can studying without feeling a pressure to discuss - if this is the case, the course is probably suiting them very well, and I could indeed see the value of this form of study for those who do not want to be in a classroom environment, or required to make conversation. Personally, I think that discussing and critiquing of ideas amongst peers is very valuable, but I appreciate that others may think differently.)

    On the whole, though, it works very well for me - I find it easy to be motivated to study something I enjoy, in an environment which suits me.

    • You're an adult, doing the course because you want to. TFA is about kids, most of whom would be rather doing something else.

  • Well, here is the cold, hard truth: Learning is HARD. Period.

    Some kids, for one reason or another, are more interested and motivated in learning than others, but they are a small minority. (Nerds are among them, but that's another story.) Even so, they are mostly only interested in learning a subset of the subjects offered as the general education. Most other kids couldn't care less and are in school only because they have to.

    Electronic gadgets are not going to help much. Short of the invention of a kn

  • It's a tremendously stupid waste of resources. If you want kids to learn about technology give them a crappy low power device (like a Pentium 1 equivalent) running a low end unix variant. This way, you can give them access to wifi, but the laptop can't do a heck of a lot more than check email and slowly load simple articles. The Internet at large combined with modern distractions is too enticing when you're supposed to be learning geometry. While there are myriad distractions in any learning environment, th
  • this is slashdot... a good 99.3% of you were geeks as kids and it got you to where you were. chances are you learned complex technology despite the fact most people around you sucked at it (sometimes even teachers) and often tried to distract you or discourage you from these endeavours... willpower kicks ass when you are motivated and technology is a knowledge enablers.

    Technology can be helpful but you have to teach the children boundaries and focus them - and this is as much a responsability of the teacher

  • I would be very reluctant to use almost any kind of technology at the elementary school level. In my experience, computers are a great tool for expressing your imagination but they're not so great for helping to develop one which is what students should be doing at that age.
  • People at places I've work think of their work computers like their home computers and spend a lot of time on personal email, surfing net, chatting and other non-work computing. Some places I've worked address this restricting what can be loaded and content monitoring. That helps but people find way to waste time on non-work (and bitch they have to stay late to get work done.)

    Then I've been places and gone toe-to-toe with management over all the non-work activity and typically non-work software installed

  • People are simple organisms. They react to immediate threats to their lives, after that they prioritise their next meal, their next dose of "fun" and whatever bodilly functions cause them discomfort.

    Now, try to persuade those people to stop doing things they like doing and address some abstract concepts that may, but almost certainly won't, become important to them at some distant point in their futures. That's what education tries to do. it only succeeds because the teacher (for want of a better term) is

  • Is E-Learning a Viable Option?

    In a word, no.

  • ... wouldn't be a problem is teachers were still allowed to fail students.

    Sure, little Johnny can play Skyrim all day - but wait till Mommy and Daddy discover he's flunked the seventh grade....

  • Children learn all the time and, for those with inclination, having access to boundless information pays off. They might start from gaming, but will eventually progress to wikipedia and so on. The rest are just hopeless no matter what you do. However, as a teacher you are obviously responsible for giving direction.

    • Does your homework include use of specific apps - say iMovie for film projects and GarageBand for composing music?
    • I hope you thought of giving each student a bluetooth keyboard? Learning is not su
    • by rwa2 ( 4391 ) *

      Sounds good.

      My wife also works for one of these school systems that recently issued iPads to students and teachers (P.G. County, MD). I was surprised that they actually did a good job of it... they actually budgeted for teacher training and for some course materials to be loaded onto it. The student iPads are locked down, so they can't install games and crap, but her iPad is relatively open (but probably somewhat monitored).

      She's much more technically savvy than most teachers, and she's been able to put t

  • (I'm not claiming that the iPad is the only, or even best, tablet for eLearning. But it is the one that I have, having moved to an iPad from a Sony eReader (and a COOL-ER eReader before that), and I've had a good experience of using it for eLearning, hence my comments here.)

    iAnnotate PDF: an outstanding application for reading and marking up PDFs. I make a point of converting all my materials to PDF (primarily so that everything opens in one application on my Mac, rather than whatever is assigned to the

  • by Tom ( 822 )

    There's a lesson from NLP: There's no failure, only feedback.

    If the pupils use the iPads for gaming during class, that is a very strong feedback that the games are more interesting than school.

    Maybe that is the root cause, not the technology? If they don't have iPads, they'll go back to playing games on paper, like pretty much every generation of school children since the invention of the pencil.

  • Having a chalk board in a rrom does not cause education to take place, but if it is well used it can be helpful to the process.

    Giving a kid a computer is only slightly better than giving them a chalk board. If you provide tools and guidence and use the tool well then you have a chance an real learning.

  • Programmed instruction, computer aided instruction and the like were very successful in the 60's and 70's, but most educational environments couldn't afford it.

    One of the most successful was the PLATO project sponsored by CDC. Using touch screen technology and programmed instruction, students were able to learn advanced mathematics and other subjects like chemistry in a client-server environment.

    Texas Instruments had a "Talking Typewriter" that taught 3- to 6-year-olds how to touch type. (The keys were diff

  • As it stands, your question yields by default the answer, "it depends." With no restrictions, minimal training and supervision, the use of iPads (or whatever) in the classroom can hinder greatly students' performance. On the other hand, with restrictions, training and adequate supervision, there's no (immediate) reason why iPads (or whatever) cannot benefit students greatly. Without any additional information about how and within what framework the technology is being implemented, a more definite answer can
  • For speed and access to composition, technology is great. Many, many people will use it for games and porn, instead of X, and X is rarely "read collective works of Charles Dickents". But the yellow press helped pay off printing press investments in record time, and in the end it doesn't matter why 99 people use the technology if it lowers the cost of production for the 100th. Snail mail is the same way, without junk mail the cost of sending a check would be much higher.

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva