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508 weeks ago @ Educational Technology... - Tablets are Good, Cont... · 0 replies · +1 points

So right:
"I would like consider two key issues - firstly the need to separate learning and teaching in this discussion."

People always confuse Teaching, Studying, and Learning. And then they forget the Practice part of learning. Because it is Practice that makes permanent.

To Learn something you need to be Taught by a teacher and you need to Study what you were taught. And after that you have to Practice what you learned.

The use of ICT is different in every one of these situations.

509 weeks ago @ Educational Technology... - What the Post-PC Era M... · 0 replies · +2 points

A small correction:
"Whether this means that Education as it stands today will suffer the same fate as the technology company Bell Labs did (hint, they went bankrupt) during the transition from pre-PC, vacuum tube mainframe computing to the microchip PC era (as Heppell, LWF Talk, 2011, thinks likely), is yet to be seen."

I do not understand what firm you mean by "Bell Labs"?

Bell Labs was the R&D laboratory of AT&T, which was transfered to Lucent Technologies after the split of AT&T. It is now part of Alcatel-Lucent. It has been reduced to a shadow of it's glorious past (the birth of Unix, C, lasers and many, many other inventions). However, it never went bankrupt.

510 weeks ago @ Educational Technology... - eReaders will transfor... · 0 replies · +1 points

There is also the Open Textbook Initiative of the Creative Commons:

There are many other Open Textbook initiatives, eg (am I not quite sure about the content of these projects),

I would also point out that there are numerous other ebook readers, beyond the Kindle. I love my Bebook One, which is simple to use, has no artificial limitations, and has WiFi connectivity (but no mobile phone connection).

511 weeks ago @ Educational Technology... - What is the Potential ... · 0 replies · +1 points

This discussion latches well into that of February. Quite accidentally I there discussed the use of eBook readers in school as an example of possible eTech projects (somewhere at the end):

Tablets are much better (with caveats), as they can be eBook readers and much more. The fact that I personally can see no use for them is just a luxury problem (I think I use half a dozen computers on and off). However, I think that some of the points mentioned in discussing eBook readers also hold for tablets:

- Lowest possible price
- Lowest possible power consumption (solar energy?)
- Sneakernet/snailmail distribution of content
- Daylight readable screens

I think the current crop of powerful, color, tablets are not yet there.

516 weeks ago @ Educational Technology... - Teacher Training on IC... · 0 replies · +1 points

Dear Laura,

In your article you describe the feeling that ICT4E projects are a failing if they are used everywhere but in the classroom. I exaggerate, but you get the idea.

My problem with this idea is that I do not really see what use the presence of the teacher is when the students are working behind a screen. If a teacher is present, her time can be used more productively when the student pay attention to her teaching. The students could postpone their time behind the keyboard to those moments when the teacher is not present.

You do not present how much time the students spend behind their computers, but if their use is comparable to those of the teachers, I would consider the Macedonian project and complete success.

517 weeks ago @ Educational Technology... - We Cannot Train More T... · 0 replies · +1 points

Dear Reem N Bsaiso

Thank you for your extensive response. I think I can agree with almost everything you write. My contribution boils down two two points:
- Please increase the number of teachers and their quality, but note the enormous scale of the task

- While we wait for all these new and qualified teachers, do something NOW to help those in school

On the last point I suggest to take a very good look at technology as a way to help teachers and children in school NOW.

It is here that I want to make a remark on your comment. You write:

"I thank you for your input, but zero-maintenance for technology is not possible, anti-virus contracts, for one are needed, and an automated reporting error reporting systems."

I disagree. First, the OLPC (with Bitfrost) showed the theory behind computer security was viable, and both Android and the iPhone proved this in the field. Mobile Smartphones are simply computers, and they lack user serviceable AV or other malware protection. That is what I mean with Zero-Maintenance at the local level.

"Actually, it is more important to have a ICT maintenance system and building the system itself because teacher and students would lose faith and investment on IT purchase is lost.One option would be to have decentralized school-based technicians and systems. "

Any such ICT maintenance system should be invisible to the end-user/school. No-one is worrying about how the iPhone or Android app stores manage security. We all know it happens, but that is not our concern. The same with the OLPC installations.

Please forget everything you know about MS Windows maintenance and security. It never worked. Nothing you learned from MS Windows maintenance can be applied to Sugar/RedHat, Android, nor iOS (iPhone). And in the end, you hardly need to know about how it is done as an end used.

518 weeks ago @ Educational Technology... - ICT Teacher Training i... · 1 reply · +1 points

This is a very impressive achievement, indeed. Is there a follow-up program for the teachers?

From your post, I get the impression that all schools are connected to the Internet. Is that correct? And was that important for the success of the program?

519 weeks ago @ Educational Technology... - We Cannot Train More T... · 2 replies · +1 points

My "global analysis" of the teacher numbers is not even a start of a real treatment of the problems in education. It only points out the "logistic" problems of recruiting and training new teachers. These logistic problems are mind boggling, but they still hide the underlying social and labor questions.

You rightly point out that the real question is "Why is there a teacher shortage?".

This is a labor market and policy problem, linked to the expensive nature of high quality service industries, i.e., with highly educated employees. Obviously, if education is withdrawing large numbers of educated laborers from the private sector, this will affect other sectors of the economy. It would be rather counter productive if staffing the schools in, e.g., Indonesia, would lead to the collapse of the manufacturing industry, putting out of work the parents of the children taught by the new teachers.

Someone else remarked on ETD that trying to hire more teachers in India by raising their wages would attract the very people you do not want in front of the children. The social roots of these problems are very complex and I feel completely unqualified from even trying to analyze them.

My intended message was simply that even if we would be able to solve these social problems in recruiting teachers, it could take the world decades to actually get the required numbers. So, whether or not the developing countries will be able to recruit sufficient numbers of new teachers, they still need to improve education of the children entering school until this goal is reached.

519 weeks ago @ Educational Technology... - The question is not wh... · 0 replies · +1 points

First, I think we mostly agree.

I most certainly would not want to state that Technology is always the solution. But more, that tools help people do their work. So, if there is a shortage of people to do the work, it is common practice to try to improve productivity with technology. So, in this respect I see the educational problems as a labor shortage problem that might be alleviated by the introduction of technology and tools.

I write "alleviated", not solved. And I do not have a particular preference for certain technologies. My all time favorite educational technology is the blackboard.

I am all for the training of teachers, because that is the other route to higher productivity. But (re-)training of teachers has even more logistic problems than the introduction of technology. And we are already short of teachers. Who will train the teachers?

I have explained my thoughts on these logistic problems of recruiting and training teachers in my February post on ETD.

On your second point.

I introduced a more "neutral" terminology of Spartan and Athenian education to avoid the politicized polemics between "Constructivism" vs "Traditional" education. And, really, these ideas are as old as education itself.

When translated to the developing world, I see the problems mostly as a result of over-crowding and under-training of teachers. The teachers in these schools simply lack the time and means to apply methods targeted at individual students. And as they have never been able to apply such methods, they also lack the training and experience to do so.

I think that to introduce more "modern" (or classical) teaching methods in the developing world it is necessary to first give the teachers the time and means to do so. In front of a class with 60 children and no textbooks or other teaching materials, how much room is there for "Constructivist" education?

How about trying to carve up a little room for such education by supplying textbooks and teaching materials. And if we could introduce something, anything, that would allow the teachers to get one part of the group busy with learning or exercising without the teacher's constant supervision, then she could give more personal attention to the others.

You could do that by hiring low-trained class supervisors that simply help the children with prescribed drill practice. And you could do that with some kind of technology, like cardboard models, or ICT gadgets. My point is that without carving out a little space for the teacher to attend to individual pupils, there will not be much Constructivist teaching.

519 weeks ago @ Educational Technology... - We Cannot Train More T... · 0 replies · +1 points

"So, as I read the rest of the post, I couldn’t help thinking that what was being proposed therein was to use (easy) technology to address (or avoid addressing) the very hard social problems. "

That was most definitely not my intention. What I tried to say was that the global teacher shortage is a very difficult social problem. A problem we have yet to see a solution for. And even if we start to work on solving it today in force, it would still take decades. So what can we do in the mean time for all the children that are entering school now, well before we have all those qualified teachers?

My suggestion is to look for help in technology. Because we know that if we can help the existing staff and their pupils to improve education now with technology, even if it is a little, then the benefits would be large. And if we find a solution to some of the challenges encountered by staff and pupils, then the technological aspect will be the easy part.

So, my quote is that technological problems are easy, almost all of them, compared to social problems. Which means that technological solutions will arrive faster than social changes. And that is important, because we are not here to solve the social problems in the educational system (however worthy that would be), but to improve education for the children.