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Saying No to School Laptops

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  • norscot@aol.com
    http://susanohanian.org/show_atrocities.php?id=6532 Saying No to School Laptops Ohanian Comment: It s about time: Dugan Slovenski, 47 of Brunswick, Maine, says
    Message 1 of 7 , Sep 1, 2006
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      http://susanohanian.org/show_atrocities.php?id=6532
      Saying No to School Laptops

      Ohanian Comment: It's about time: Dugan Slovenski, 47 of Brunswick, Maine, says having a laptop has encouraged her thirteen-year-old son to spend more time dazzling up presentations with fancy fonts instead of digging through library books. "They need to be able to learn to research beyond what is accomplished by Googling a word or phrase," she says.

      It is telling that the most enthusiastic response in favor of 24/7 computer availability to kids is that they learn PowerPoint.


      Programs to Give All Students Computers
      Come Under Fire Over Costs,
      Inappropriate Use by Kids

      By Jessica E. Vascellaro


      Last summer, Shawna Adam and her sixth-grade daughter, Abby, eagerly awaited a back-to-school perk: an Apple Computer Inc. iBook Abby was issued -- for just $78, because of her financial need -- through Hermosa Drive Elementary school in Fullerton, Calif.

      But after school started, Ms. Adam started to worry. Abby spent class time sending instant messages to friends and wanted to create a page on social-networking site MySpace.com. Her standardized writing-test scores fell, too. So Ms. Adam handed back the computer and pulled her daughter out of the laptop program, which is this year expanding to five schools. "What she learned was how to play games and email her friends," says Ms. Adam. "School was one big happy gabfest."

      Ms. Adam is part of a backlash against programs that equip every student in a classroom with a computer. A few years ago, such programs, which aim to better engage and train students by giving them round-the-clock computer access, were introduced in schools across the country -- often with encouragement from the large computer makers, such as Apple and Dell Inc., that win the contracts. But now, some parents and educators are having second thoughts over higher-than-anticipated costs and the potential for inappropriate use by kids. At the same time, there is a sense that the vaunted benefits of constant computer access remain unproven. The programs are increasingly under attack -- and in a few cases are crumbling.

      An effort to give 63,000 computers to students in Cobb County, Ga., was recently scrapped in response to a lawsuit over a proposal to divert special sales-tax funds to the program. The Fullerton, Calif., school district was forced to make participation in its program contingent upon a parental vote after the American Civil Liberties Union threatened to sue the district late last year for passing the $1,485 cost per student onto parents. A state-sponsored initiative in New Mexico, whose rollout has already been cut back once, is now under fire from state legislators for its high price tag, lack of evaluation procedures and mixed results. Parents of students enrolled in a Henrico County, Va., flagship program for more than 26,000 students are calling for a delay in issuing laptops to middle-school students until the computers have stronger inappropriate-content filters.

      The laptop initiatives, also known as "one-to-one" programs, were first hatched around five years ago to bridge the digital divide between students who had computers at home and those who didn't. Though home-computer penetration has skyrocketed to as high as 72%, according to market researcher Parks Associates, proponents of the programs argue that constant computer access teaches students skills critical to their success in college and at work, such as how to organize multimedia presentations and conduct research online. One-to-one access also makes it easier for educators to spruce up lessons with new educational-computing tools like interactive graphing programs without sending the class shuffling back and forth between computer labs.

      The hurdles aren't derailing the overall push. Competition among schools and the visibility of other laptop initiatives, such as an effort launched by the MIT Media Lab effort to outfit children in developing countries with cheap laptops, is fueling some growth. The number of North American students enrolled in one-to-one laptop programs is growing annually at around 15% and now totals about 500,000, according to the Anywhere Anytime Learning Foundation, a group based in Bellevue, Wash., that studies these initiatives.

      But critics say the true costs of a comprehensive laptop program -- from training staff to drafting new curriculum to installing wireless networks in schools -- are just becoming apparent. Larry Cuban, professor emeritus of education at Stanford University, says schools are balking at the array of hidden costs. "As educational dollars have grown more scarce, those extra costs give pause to more people," he says.

      Schools are proceeding more cautiously, says Karen Bruett, vice president of Dell's K-12 education business, which supplies laptops to hundreds of schools across the country. She says that as schools think more carefully about how to best improve learning, they are moving away from a strict one-to-one model and considering other options, such as just giving them to teachers instead.

      Funding for such programs varies. Computer initiatives in Michigan and Texas are supported by tens of millions of dollars in federal grant money, as well as some contributions from individual schools. In Virginia's Henrico County, the district covers the program's roughly $6 million price tag out of the district's $500 million annual education budget. In Fullerton, families typically "lease" the model for three years at a total cost of around $1,200, including software and insurance; afterwards the device is theirs to own. In private schools, parents not on financial aid are usually asked to cover the entire price of the device, software and insurance.

      For the computer suppliers, it is a lucrative and brand-building business. Most programs are partnerships between schools or districts and the computer manufacturers who bid for the contracts, usually Apple, H-P and Dell. The companies supply and configure the laptops, often loading them with expensive software like Microsoft Office or Adobe PhotoShop. The manufacturers also offer a menu of support services and warranties that can add several hundred dollars to the price of a laptop.

      The Maine Department of Education's current four-year contract with Apple is worth $41 million. "The sale in the short term is great for the bottom line," says Michael Gartenberg, vice president at Jupiter Research in New York. "And capturing customers when they are teenagers creates strong brand affiliation."

      The round-the-clock access is widely popular with kids. Jeremy Terman, a 12-year-old at the Barstow School, an independent school in Kansas City, Mo., that requires sixth, seventh and eighth graders to have laptops, is tethered to his Dell computer, which he has decorated with a Kansas University sticker. The seventh grader says it helps him tackle longer writing assignments without hurting his hand and understand tricky science concepts, like electromagnetic attraction, by watching simulations at his desk. "The only thing I don't use it for is gym," he adds.

      But some parents worry that the laptops are teaching the wrong skills. Dugan Slovenski, 47 of Brunswick, Maine, says having a laptop has encouraged her thirteen-year-old son to spend more time dazzling up presentations with fancy fonts instead of digging through library books. "They need to be able to learn to research beyond what is accomplished by Googling a word or phrase," she says.

      Few comprehensive studies exist on whether these programs live up to their claims to boost achievement, in part because the initiatives are so new. A preliminary study on the impact of laptops in Texas middle schools released by the Texas Center for Educational Research this spring reported that technology immersion improved student attitudes and behaviors but had a neutral impact on student achievement.

      Parents are also worried about the laptops encouraging their kids to spend too much time online, often browsing dangerous sites. In Henrico County, 232 students were suspended for violating the school's acceptable-use policy last year. Some of those cases involved students using school computers to search for pornography. Students have also been caught snooping on inappropriate sites late at night by bumming wireless Internet connections off neighbors, says Lisa Marshall, PTA president of Henrico's Tuckahoe Middle School.

      A spokesman for the Henrico School district says middle-school laptops will be outfitted with more robust filters in a month or so and encourages parents to keep their children in line by checking their computers' logs of sites visited.

      And some parents, while concerned about safety, are still enthusiastic laptop proponents. Anne Carson, a 49-year-old parent in Glen Allen, Va., says the laptop has helped her twelve-year-old son master critical professional skills like how to compile a PowerPoint presentation. "He's really picking up on a lot of opportunities I don't think he would have gotten without the laptop," she says.

      Write to Jessica E. Vascellaro at jessica.vascellaro@...1
      [Where the Laptops Are]
      URL for this article:
      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115698378733250090.html

      — Jessica E. Vascellaro
      Wall Street Journal
      2006-08-31
    • Jane Reiff
      Instead of laptops for the students a computer lab and computer classes should be instituted where research tips and source checking should be taught. These
      Message 2 of 7 , Sep 1, 2006
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        Instead of laptops for the students a computer lab and computer classes should be instituted where research tips and source checking should be taught. These labs have been eliminated due to budget cuts and time restraints. Bring them back.
        Jane D25
         
        -------Original Message-------
         
        Date: 9/1/2006 3:30:56 AM
        Subject: [nyceducationnews] Saying No to School Laptops
         

        http://susanohanian .org/show_ atrocities. php?id=6532
        Saying No to School Laptops

        Ohanian Comment: It's about time: Dugan Slovenski, 47 of Brunswick, Maine, says having a laptop has encouraged her thirteen-year- old son to spend more time dazzling up presentations with fancy fonts instead of digging through library books. "They need to be able to learn to research beyond what is accomplished by Googling a word or phrase," she says.

        It is telling that the most enthusiastic response in favor of 24/7 computer availability to kids is that they learn PowerPoint.


        Programs to Give All Students Computers
        Come Under Fire Over Costs,
        Inappropriate Use by Kids

        By Jessica E. Vascellaro


        Last summer, Shawna Adam and her sixth-grade daughter, Abby, eagerly awaited a back-to-school perk: an Apple Computer Inc. iBook Abby was issued -- for just $78, because of her financial need -- through Hermosa Drive Elementary school in Fullerton, Calif.

        But after school started, Ms. Adam started to worry. Abby spent class time sending instant messages to friends and wanted to create a page on social-networking site MySpace.com. Her standardized writing-test scores fell, too. So Ms. Adam handed back the computer and pulled her daughter out of the laptop program, which is this year expanding to five schools. "What she learned was how to play games and email her friends," says Ms. Adam. "School was one big happy gabfest."

        Ms. Adam is part of a backlash against programs that equip every student in a classroom with a computer. A few years ago, such programs, which aim to better engage and train students by giving them round-the-clock computer access, were introduced in schools across the country -- often with encouragement from the large computer makers, such as Apple and Dell Inc., that win the contracts. But now, some parents and educators are having second thoughts over higher-than- anticipated costs and the potential for inappropriate use by kids. At the same time, there is a sense that the vaunted benefits of constant computer access remain unproven. The programs are increasingly under attack -- and in a few cases are crumbling.

        An effort to give 63,000 computers to students in Cobb County, Ga., was recently scrapped in response to a lawsuit over a proposal to divert special sales-tax funds to the program. The Fullerton, Calif., school district was forced to make participation in its program contingent upon a parental vote after the American Civil Liberties Union threatened to sue the district late last year for passing the $1,485 cost per student onto parents. A state-sponsored initiative in New Mexico, whose rollout has already been cut back once, is now under fire from state legislators for its high price tag, lack of evaluation procedures and mixed results. Parents of students enrolled in a Henrico County, Va., flagship program for more than 26,000 students are calling for a delay in issuing laptops to middle-school students until the computers have stronger inappropriate- content filters.

        The laptop initiatives, also known as "one-to-one" programs, were first hatched around five years ago to bridge the digital divide between students who had computers at home and those who didn't. Though home-computer penetration has skyrocketed to as high as 72%, according to market researcher Parks Associates, proponents of the programs argue that constant computer access teaches students skills critical to their success in college and at work, such as how to organize multimedia presentations and conduct research online. One-to-one access also makes it easier for educators to spruce up lessons with new educational- computing tools like interactive graphing programs without sending the class shuffling back and forth between computer labs.

        The hurdles aren't derailing the overall push. Competition among schools and the visibility of other laptop initiatives, such as an effort launched by the MIT Media Lab effort to outfit children in developing countries with cheap laptops, is fueling some growth. The number of North American students enrolled in one-to-one laptop programs is growing annually at around 15% and now totals about 500,000, according to the Anywhere Anytime Learning Foundation, a group based in Bellevue, Wash., that studies these initiatives.

        But critics say the true costs of a comprehensive laptop program -- from training staff to drafting new curriculum to installing wireless networks in schools -- are just becoming apparent. Larry Cuban, professor emeritus of education at Stanford University, says schools are balking at the array of hidden costs. "As educational dollars have grown more scarce, those extra costs give pause to more people," he says.

        Schools are proceeding more cautiously, says Karen Bruett, vice president of Dell's K-12 education business, which supplies laptops to hundreds of schools across the country. She says that as schools think more carefully about how to best improve learning, they are moving away from a strict one-to-one model and considering other options, such as just giving them to teachers instead.

        Funding for such programs varies. Computer initiatives in Michigan and Texas are supported by tens of millions of dollars in federal grant money, as well as some contributions from individual schools. In Virginia's Henrico County, the district covers the program's roughly $6 million price tag out of the district's $500 million annual education budget. In Fullerton, families typically "lease" the model for three years at a total cost of around $1,200, including software and insurance; afterwards the device is theirs to own. In private schools, parents not on financial aid are usually asked to cover the entire price of the device, software and insurance.

        For the computer suppliers, it is a lucrative and brand-building business. Most programs are partnerships between schools or districts and the computer manufacturers who bid for the contracts, usually Apple, H-P and Dell. The companies supply and configure the laptops, often loading them with expensive software like Microsoft Office or Adobe PhotoShop. The manufacturers also offer a menu of support services and warranties that can add several hundred dollars to the price of a laptop.

        The Maine Department of Education's current four-year contract with Apple is worth $41 million. "The sale in the short term is great for the bottom line," says Michael Gartenberg, vice president at Jupiter Research in New York. "And capturing customers when they are teenagers creates strong brand affiliation. "

        The round-the-clock access is widely popular with kids. Jeremy Terman, a 12-year-old at the Barstow School, an independent school in Kansas City, Mo., that requires sixth, seventh and eighth graders to have laptops, is tethered to his Dell computer, which he has decorated with a Kansas University sticker. The seventh grader says it helps him tackle longer writing assignments without hurting his hand and understand tricky science concepts, like electromagnetic attraction, by watching simulations at his desk. "The only thing I don't use it for is gym," he adds.

        But some parents worry that the laptops are teaching the wrong skills. Dugan Slovenski, 47 of Brunswick, Maine, says having a laptop has encouraged her thirteen-year- old son to spend more time dazzling up presentations with fancy fonts instead of digging through library books. "They need to be able to learn to research beyond what is accomplished by Googling a word or phrase," she says.

        Few comprehensive studies exist on whether these programs live up to their claims to boost achievement, in part because the initiatives are so new. A preliminary study on the impact of laptops in Texas middle schools released by the Texas Center for Educational Research this spring reported that technology immersion improved student attitudes and behaviors but had a neutral impact on student achievement.

        Parents are also worried about the laptops encouraging their kids to spend too much time online, often browsing dangerous sites. In Henrico County, 232 students were suspended for violating the school's acceptable-use policy last year. Some of those cases involved students using school computers to search for pornography. Students have also been caught snooping on inappropriate sites late at night by bumming wireless Internet connections off neighbors, says Lisa Marshall, PTA president of Henrico's Tuckahoe Middle School.

        A spokesman for the Henrico School district says middle-school laptops will be outfitted with more robust filters in a month or so and encourages parents to keep their children in line by checking their computers' logs of sites visited.

        And some parents, while concerned about safety, are still enthusiastic laptop proponents. Anne Carson, a 49-year-old parent in Glen Allen, Va., says the laptop has helped her twelve-year- old son master critical professional skills like how to compile a PowerPoint presentation. "He's really picking up on a lot of opportunities I don't think he would have gotten without the laptop," she says.

        Write to Jessica E. Vascellaro at jessica.vascellaro@ wsj.com1
        [Where the Laptops Are]
        URL for this article:
        http://online. wsj.com/article/ SB11569837873325 0090.html

        — Jessica E. Vascellaro
        Wall Street Journal
        2006-08-31

         
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      • norscot@aol.com
        I am for computer labs if they are used well. But they often are not. The labs have not been eliminated due to budget cuts but are another victim of testing.
        Message 3 of 7 , Sep 2, 2006
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          I am for computer labs if they are used well. But they often are not.

          The labs have not been eliminated due to budget cuts but are another victim of testing. Many schools have labs without teachers. Principals would rather have a lang arts or math cluster than a computer teacher because they feel it doesn't have real value in terms of a school's rating. Ironicm but if a school were rated based on kids' abillity to demonstrate computer skills -- another test - which I ironically used to find myself thinking about -- we would see results.

          The labs cost at least 100k and many of them came from the local city council member's grant money. Many labs are very underutlized because they are empty during teacher lunch, preps, etc. Lab teachers are/were viewed as clusters rather than as computer coordinators and assigned to cover other classes, etc. They also were expected to manage all the computers in the building - businesses hire network managers  - and are often overwhlemed.

          Principals have put pressure on them to do test prep even back when I was doing the job. (I was a lab teacher from 1987- 1996).

          The recent move is to distribute computer resources through the use of lab carts than can be brought into a classroom rather than send kids to a lab for 1 prep a week. In essence this brings the lab to the class rather than moving kids around.

          Ideally, it would be great to have both - with a teacher or para in the lab to manage it and be there when/if a teacher wants to book time. But in today's test-prep factories there is no time.

          Norm

          In a message dated 9/1/06 3:59:18 PM, jesnik@... writes:


          Instead of laptops for the students a computer lab and computer classes should be instituted where research tips and source checking should be taught. These labs have been eliminated due to budget cuts and time restraints. Bring them back.


        • Jane Reiff
          Norm, I stand corrected. Many schools in our District have the moving labs for the reasons you have stated. But this is still better than individual laptops
          Message 4 of 7 , Sep 2, 2006
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            Norm,
            I stand corrected. Many schools in our District have the moving labs for the reasons you have stated. But this is still better than individual laptops with no supervision or structered curriculum. Thanks.
            Jane
             
            -------Original Message-------
              From: norscot@...
            Date: 09/02/06 07:12:07
            Subject: Re: [nyceducationnews] Saying No to School Laptops
             

            I am for computer labs if they are used well. But they often are not.

            The labs have not been eliminated due to budget cuts but are another victim of testing. Many schools have labs without teachers. Principals would rather have a lang arts or math cluster than a computer teacher because they feel it doesn't have real value in terms of a school's rating. Ironicm but if a school were rated based on kids' abillity to demonstrate computer skills -- another test - which I ironically used to find myself thinking about -- we would see results.

            The labs cost at least 100k and many of them came from the local city council member's grant money. Many labs are very underutlized because they are empty during teacher lunch, preps, etc. Lab teachers are/were viewed as clusters rather than as computer coordinators and assigned to cover other classes, etc. They also were expected to manage all the computers in the building - businesses hire network managers  - and are often overwhlemed.

            Principals have put pressure on them to do test prep even back when I was doing the job. (I was a lab teacher from 1987- 1996).

            The recent move is to distribute computer resources through the use of lab carts than can be brought into a classroom rather than send kids to a lab for 1 prep a week. In essence this brings the lab to the class rather than moving kids around.

            Ideally, it would be great to have both - with a teacher or para in the lab to manage it and be there when/if a teacher wants to book time. But in today's test-prep factories there is no time.

            Norm

            In a message dated 9/1/06 3:59:18 PM, jesnik@.... com writes:


            Instead of laptops for the students a computer lab and computer classes should be instituted where research tips and source checking should be taught. These labs have been eliminated due to budget cuts and time restraints. Bring them back.


             
            FREE emoticons for your email! click Here!
          • Beth Bernett
            thanks Norm for the very thoughtful response. like many things, having computer access is a privilege that is ripe for abuse, and they are certainly NOT a
            Message 5 of 7 , Sep 2, 2006
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              thanks Norm for the very thoughtful response. like many things, having
              computer access is a privilege that is ripe for abuse, and they are
              certainly NOT a substitute for good classroom teachers, though I
              suspect that's what Mayor Bloomberg has in mind with large classes with
              laptops for all -- here's a laptop, go educate yourself. but whether
              we like it or not, computers are ingrained in our lives and are
              becoming increasingly so. being able to use technology well is
              increasingly important for college and the workplace, from
              manufacturing to service to 'professional' work, and the day is not far
              off when most of our 'home' tasks will be computerized as well. our
              kids are growing up with computers as matter-of-factly as we did with
              television, so we should embrace the technology with sensible policies
              such as you have outlined below.
              BB
              On Saturday, September 2, 2006, at 07:09 AM, norscot@... wrote:

              > I am for computer labs if they are used well. But they often are not.
              >
              > The labs have not been eliminated due to budget cuts but are another
              > victim of testing. Many schools have labs without teachers. Principals
              > would rather have a lang arts or math cluster than a computer teacher
              > because they feel it doesn't have real value in terms of a school's
              > rating. Ironicm but if a school were rated based on kids' abillity to
              > demonstrate computer skills -- another test - which I ironically used
              > to find myself thinking about -- we would see results.
              >
              > The labs cost at least 100k and many of them came from the local city
              > council member's grant money. Many labs are very underutlized because
              > they are empty during teacher lunch, preps, etc. Lab teachers are/were
              > viewed as clusters rather than as computer coordinators and assigned
              > to cover other classes, etc. They also were expected to manage all the
              > computers in the building - businesses hire network managers  - and
              > are often overwhlemed.
              >
              > Principals have put pressure on them to do test prep even back when I
              > was doing the job. (I was a lab teacher from 1987- 1996).
              >
              > The recent move is to distribute computer resources through the use of
              > lab carts than can be brought into a classroom rather than send kids
              > to a lab for 1 prep a week. In essence this brings the lab to the
              > class rather than moving kids around.
              >
              > Ideally, it would be great to have both - with a teacher or para in
              > the lab to manage it and be there when/if a teacher wants to book
              > time. But in today's test-prep factories there is no time.
              >
              > Norm
              >
              > In a message dated 9/1/06 3:59:18 PM, jesnik@... writes:
              >
              >
              > Instead of laptops for the students a computer lab and computer
              > classes should be instituted where research tips and source checking
              > should be taught. These labs have been eliminated due to budget cuts
              > and time restraints. Bring them back.
              >
              >
              >
              >
            • SERGIOLORA@aol.com
              A debate about computer/laptop usefulness is moot please click on the links below, that we are not making the most effective use of these tools is another
              Message 6 of 7 , Sep 2, 2006
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                A debate about computer/laptop usefulness is moot please click on the links below, that we are not making the most effective use of these "tools" is another matter:
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 
                 

                “Soyons rèalistes, demandons l'impossible!”
              • ARIGINA@aol.com
                Please remove me from your email list. It is to much to read. Thank you. Ira Zalcman
                Message 7 of 7 , Sep 2, 2006
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                  Please remove me from your email list. It is to much to read.
                  Thank you.
                  Ira Zalcman
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