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The $100 laptop closer to reality

On Thursday 29 September 2005 11:38 am, Ben Jackson wrote:
> Technology being pushed into every crevice isn't the problem. The problem
> is that technology is being billed as the "Silver Bullet" for education.
> "OMG! We give these kids laptops, and they'll be smarter!". The snake oil
> salesmen are moving from books to educational software.


> Educational software is not a bad thing. The problem is that people buy
> "Education Software 1.0", toss it to the school, and never sit down with
> the teachers to implement it.

Right, it's all in the implementation. Implementation costs a fortune.
Mavis Beacon or the equivalent. Yeah, awesome, it works, great.
"Ethics 2.0", not so much.

> My fiancee teaches primary school. They are buying laptops w/ some kind of
> educational software thing. Now, this is a neutral thing. However, if it
> just sits there stagnant, or is just used for dog and pony shows, it is a
> waste. However, there are more then a few teachers are making a concerted
> effort to learn the software (which, I will admit, can do some pretty
> intresting things). This is a good thing(tm), and is what is lacking in a
> lot of markets. It's the same concept as a VP who buys some package to
> solve all the companies problems, then never trains anyone.

My girlfriend teaches primary as well. She is finding that with tech 
purchases, they have less money in the budget for hiring teachers. 
Shocking...So, they get more kids with less pre-existing knowledge, more 
temper-tantrums, etc...

> > Remember, all the great achievements in nearly every subject have all
> > been achieved with actual books teaching actual students. Kepler didn't
> > have the newest Toshiba. Galileo didn't IM his buddies to tell them about
> > the bowling ball experiment and Copernicus didn't leave a .doc attachment
> > saying he wanted to posthumously publish his works.
> Eh, techology, if treated as a means to an ends, can make a lot of
> difference. I used my Internet connection to hang out in USENET and learn
> gobs of information. I dare say I've picked up more coding help from the
> web then from books. The books or computers are merely a medium, the same
> information can be gathered from either.

Sure, but how many kids are like that? How many would have learned a similar 
skill via a book or a teacher that that tech purchase precluded from 

> This is very difficult to do. This is another discussion for another time.
> Remember, lawmakers have about as much clue as education as they do about
> technology, and look at the laws they pass for tech. (Simply put, the same
> boneheadedness in the DMCA is also prevelant in the MCAS tests).

Oh, heck yeah. It's linked into a dozen other issues, but money and teachers 
are still (I believe) the solution. Throwing tech in without any solid plan 
is tantamount to throwing in a teacher without training.

> To be honest, right after the whole "How cool" thought passed through my
> head, the next thing that popped into my head was "Who's going to SUPPORT
> these damn things? I could make a killing!". I hope this doesn't make me
> evil. I enjoy my alignment of chaotic-good. :D

Nah. I had the same thought, but then the third thought was "Jesus, can you 
imagine supporting 200 kids?" No thanks. I will get my 100 an hour sitting in 
an office, chatting via IM about Reese Witherspoon's shoes, thank you very 

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