"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tablets Instead Of Textbooks

When K+12 was launched in the Philippines, the president, Benigno S. Aquino III expressed his interest in providing school children tablets instead of textbooks. The following is a screen capture of a news article from GMA News:

It is problematic when education policies are not drawn by educators. The above is a perfect example.

"Technology" is also mentioned 38 times in Diane Ravitch's book The Reign of Error. Here are some of the instances:
  • Their school should have a rich arts program, where students learn to sing, dance, play an instrument, join an orchestra or a band, perform in a play, sculpt, or use technology to design structures , conduct research, or create artworks.
  • When they speak of “innovation,” they mean replacing teachers with technology to cut staffing costs.
  • But consider the contrast between the Rocketship charter model and the schools that the high-technology experts choose for their own children. Three-quarters of the students at the Waldorf School of the Peninsula in Los Altos, California, the heart of Silicon Valley, are children of top executives at Google, eBay, Apple, Yahoo!, and other giants of the industry. The Waldorf School has no computers at all; it emphasizes physical activity and creative, hands-on projects.
Technology can be an enabler - this is really the nature of technology. In education, technology can help enliven a class. Seeing a Cisco ad that shows students from two different countries interact through a webcam is an example. Replacing textbooks, replacing teachers - this is entirely different. The fact that content can be changed instantly is not purely an advantage. Of all the technology that is here in the US, it is amazing that applying and closing a mortgage still involves a thick set of papers that need to be read and signed. There is permanence in documents that are printed on paper. The cost of changing things makes it more important to be thorough and careful in the production. The fact that revisions are seen to be a lot easier and simpler to do in the future only caters to carelessness. There is no need to be particularly concerned with spelling and grammar when writing articles in this blog, for example. It does not cost that much because it can be easily erased. In fact, in a fraction of a second, this entire blog could easily disappear.

This blog has also pointed out how switching electronically is not a cost-saving measure. Textbooks are still far cheaper than any of these tablets. In "Technology in the Classroom - The Real Deal", the following table copied from Lee Wilson's blog sends a very important message:

It is the content that costs much in printed textbooks. This does not become free simply because it resides in some memory. In fact, content is more expensive for iText. And if the above is not enough, here is a headline from the Daily Caller:

On this piece of news, Diane Ravitch simply had the following entry on her blog on October 1, 2013:

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