9 comments posted · 0 followers · following 0

611 weeks ago @ Educational Technology... - Phones Are a Real Alte... · 0 replies · +1 points

I had to leave halfway through the webinar, so perhaps this was addressed, but a lot of the examples were using specific smartphones (and could be done via non-cellular PDAs as well). The problems I see with embedding smartphones in traditional education are cost and compatibility. If the school takes the cost, it can guarantee all the cell phones in use will be the same with the same features, but ownership/personal use is difficult (or expensive)

If the school externalizes the cost, how do lower-income students justify ponying up for a more expensive smartphone (or a specific smartphone)? How does the curriculum change to accommodate non-standard phones, or set requirements (phone must have a camera, bluetooth or USB connection, texting plan, SIM card... ?). It reminds me of the always-frustrating laptop standards colleges post which exclude unusual configurations, older OSes, and almost always fail to support Linux OS.

This is not to say that cell phones aren't wide-spread and could be used as part of the curricula, but I'm not sure the cost and compatibility of phones is at a point that they should be mandated.

611 weeks ago @ Educational Technology... - Phones Are a Real Alte... · 3 replies · +1 points

EdWeek/Teacher Magazine and Sprint are hosting a webinar (right now as I post) on the cell phone as a learning platform; it should be up for re-broadcast in a few days:

617 weeks ago @ Educational Technology... - Mobile Phones: Better ... · 0 replies · +1 points

I'm sure I sound like a broken record by this point; but there are roles for both mobiles and computers (be it 1:1 computing as with the OLPC, or 1-computer classrooms, or simply computer labs). Mobiles have high penetration rates (but how young? elementary school?) but limited capabilities beyond 1:1 or expensive 1:many communication. Computers are much more fragile and require more infrastucture, but have such a wealth of educational software and information (especially if you add in the Internet).

Neither are silver bullets to heal a failing education system, but both could play a role in extending education (call-backs to listen in to class for rural youth unable to attend school regularly?) if implemented with a reasonable and maintainable budget and good integration into the existing education processes.

619 weeks ago @ Educational Technology... - Memories of ICTs long ... · 0 replies · +1 points

I don't see as how there's anything wrong with old technology. It's hard to beat the cost/value of paper, pencil, chalk and a blackboard with much. Overhead projectors, copiers and radio probably come next in utility?

I was chatting with some US educators who were glowing over a complex smartboard setup, which was essentially one large touchpad (coded to "markers" instead of just touches, probably making it cheaper), some software, and a projector. It made all the worst parts about bloackboards (writing, erasing, and re-writing the same content for each new class, e.g. quizzes) go away, without (inherently) undermining the classic chalk-and-talk methodology (but giving it tons of more useful tools, which could be expanded upon). With the new (cheap, and low-power) LED projectors, this seems like as useful an "educational technology" as 1:1 computing for many cases (depending on the cost of the "smartboard" itself, and the software packages (if not Open Source). It's an interesting improvement on the existing classroom using new tech, without going overboard.

I'm a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to educational technology; I do think it has great promise, but I don't see why it needs to be forced on any education system, as opposed to allowing a more natural adoption of technology. I'd rather have a textbook whose pages I can dogear, postit-note, and annotate wildly than a Kindle (though the kindle is finally approaching an equitable level of utility (took long enough!)).

619 weeks ago @ Educational Technology... - Are ICTs the Best Educ... · 0 replies · +1 points

It's great to see you in here Lee; the social embeddedness of technology is the root of the "appropriate" technology discussion a few threads up -- what is appropriate is in the end, decided by the people who are supposed to be engaged with the technology; and it would be best to include them early on to avoid buying expensive paperweights.

I think it goes beyond what design itself can solve, though (but good design helps a lot) -- there are simply some infrastructure needs (which can be alleviated with design + new, gridless electricity and wireless Internet) and institutional requirements (champions in the school and experts in the private sector who have some time to spare to help out) that need to be available for a technology project to thrive.

619 weeks ago @ Educational Technology... - Are ICTs the Best Educ... · 0 replies · +1 points

The problem you're uncovering is not the importance of projects using technology that works for them, but rather who determines what is "appropriate."

621 weeks ago @ Educational Technology... - Are ICTs the Best Educ... · 8 replies · +1 points

Mike - True; and I've begun to waver on things like radio (appropriate, easy and cheap to deploy in area without grid/telecom, etc.) in the threads above. I maintain that however shiny, laptops and computer labs are almost never going to be the right choice in that setup.

621 weeks ago @ Educational Technology... - Are ICTs the Best Educ... · 0 replies · +1 points

I can see a role for radio in cases such as mentioned there where the cost to provide teachers and infrastructure are just too high, but a radio program with some interactive components and a much smaller staff (than a network of schools) can provide some basic instruction. I maintain that the main focus on spending should be on providing teachers and schools, and using appropriate technology to extend the impact where /necessary/ , not when possible.

Caveat: I'm a huge fan of technology and of the power of various flavors of ICTs to do a lot of good in the world; but I'd rather have slow, organic diffusion of technology that solves real needs than massive roll-outs of shiny new tech with great potential, no buy-in, and lacking critical support infrastructure.

Also: Did the blog software really strip out the t-i-t from competitiveness? Somebody needs a better regex formula...

621 weeks ago @ Educational Technology... - Are ICTs the Best Educ... · 8 replies · +1 points

Let me what's sure to be a lively argument with a resounding "no." (keep reading, the real answer is, of course "it depends") If educational funding is truly scarce, then the best investment is in teachers (also creates rural jobs!) and basic infrastructure (more job creation, long-term value creation, running water/latrines at school improves health, school can provide community common/gathering spaces). Technology, even the best designed tools available, require some combination of training, electricity, and Internet/cellphone access, and (most troublesome) specialized maintenance.

If there's funding after providing school buildings and sufficient teachers, then ICTs become important, for all the usual reasons (global competitiveness, ICT can magnify the reach and impact of teachers and materials, engages students in more creative learning, engages boys...).

I do not believe that any technology replaces an in-person teacher, especially for primary and secondary education, or is a good investment in a zero-sum game competing against more basic educational needs.