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Computers and education

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by D26, May 6, 2014.

  1. D26

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    I want to slap every person who has called me "good with computers" now, cause I swear I went cross-eyed for a minute after reading Nett's post about the behind the scenes of the board.

    Working in a school where the average teacher age is 45, "good with computers" translates to "can operate Word and Excel without starting the building on fire."

    We're going 1:1 next year, meaning every student will have a computer (in our case, a Chromebook). Half the teachers are shitting themselves because they don't know how to turn a damn computer on, and the other half are excited to get technology that isn't from the damn Stone Age.

    Too bad it won't work cause the wifi sucks.

    Regardless:

    Focus: Real Ideas for integrating computers into schools. I will be teaching United States and World History, and I have a few ideas, but why not crowd source some things? If you were a student today, how would YOU like to see computers integrated to your class. Every single student will have them, so nothing is off limits.

    Alt focus: All the many, many, many, many ways computer integration in a school can backfire. How would YOU cheat if all tests were online. What kind of mischief should I be on the lookout for.
     
  2. Nettdata

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    Interestingly enough, the company I've just been hired at is doing development in the online teaching arena, specifically k-12 reporting and testing.
     
  3. Juice

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    First all, if youre going to have computers be the main teaching mechanism and tool, lock that shit down with some DeepFreeze or something. Otherwise, youre going to have those things plagued with porn, freeware games, and social media malware in a matter of hours.

    As far as ideas, it really depends on what youre teaching and what software you have at your disposal. If its History of Ancient Greece, it probably doesnt make much sense. If its Intro to C++, then yeah Id say go for it.

    I wonder if theres any data on whether classrooms with heavy tech integration do better than ones without?
     
  4. silway

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    Assuming some degree of rational restriction (and permission) as to what they can see on the internet I would suggest that some time be spent teaching them how to judge the validity of content online when doing factual research. It's a vital skill, especially as they progress in their schooling and write more and more papers.

    Then, every now and then, you can do a test where they can use their computers to help them, but have the questions be a little tough to dig up so they're being tested on research ability as well as history.


    What age are you teaching? I feel like there's a difference in what you can do with them if you have a group of kids all day vs. a rotating group of older kids for an hour at a time.
     
  5. CharlesJohnson

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    Who gives a shit what the student wants? You're in charge. Student would rather be jacking off somewhere. Let's make it interesting for them to be there in the first place because, "Come on, man, history already happened who cares?"

    If you're teaching World History there is only room for one computer: yours. You want to augment your lecture with photos, you must put them up. Computers for a class like this are a distraction. You ask one kid to google up a point you want to make, some fine point, something to double check. Beyond that every jerk in class is clacking away, probably not on task.

    You can't put the notes online either. They'll never learn it because I guarantee they aren't reading the book either. Make them copy the notes during the lecture, old school style. They can't help but absorb SOMETHING. Hell, give extra credit for a full set of notes at the end of each semester. Case in point: American Govt, seniors. Teacher made the notes available, took the test directly from notes, and allowed open book on all tests. I was the only A, half the class flat out failed.

    Speaking of the book? If they're as crappy as I am hearing, the book is only useful as an outline. Base lectures around what was left out or glossed over by the authors. Ameliorate on instances of importance and interest. Engage the class. Engage the disinterested. Ask them to expand on a point you made. "Why did Japan bomb Pearl Harbor, Hernando?" "Did you know the U.S. cutting off oil played a hand in the attack? WHYYYYY is oil important to an imperial power?" Stuff like that. Keep them interested and paying attention. Helps their critical thinking instead of just regurgitating answers.

    Now, where a class can benefit from a computer? Their homework should be done online. Save paper, make them learn how to send a formal letter and heading. Make them do one essay a semester, allowing online sources of value. That's easy enough for them to do and easy enough for you to grade.

    Want a test online? Sure. Put a time limit on it though. That's the only thing to hamper their google-fu. If they even bother to take it instead of failing. Speaking of students bothering. Not every kid has access to a computer unless they go to the library. So, do the test in the library perhaps?

    Computers belong in computer classes. Imagine a computer in math class? Bye bye productivity, critical thinking.
     
  6. Currer Bell

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    This should be an interesting thread to read. My kid is going into middle school next year and apparently they are all getting chromebooks. Boggles my mind.
     
  7. JWags

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    I think tablets are more useful. I don't have a tablet, I don't have much use for one, but if I was still in college I would. I assume we are to the point with styluses and apps where you can reliably take notes like you would with a notebook. We get to a point where all class documents could be sent to a student's tablet and notes could be taken, documents submitted, etc... Then I see the use. But giving a middle school or high school student a laptop? Seems excessive.

    Related, I think programming should be much more of an available skill. I took a C++ course or two in HS, it was super dry, only a couple awkward kids with a terrible teacher. Turned me off to it. Not saying I would have grown up to be a code warrior, but I wish I had more competency especially with the development environment the way it is now. Alot less wasted manpower and ideas if people had enough understanding to vet ideas beforehand. It's like a foreign language, don't have to be fluent, but it would help to have some understanding and minor mastery so you aren't lost in a tech business environment potentially. But that is another thread/argument entirely.
     
  8. FreeCorps

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    In university now some teachers are using this program called Secure Browser so that you can't Alt-Tab out of the test screen and require use of it to take online tests. Meanwhile I'm taking the test on my desktop with my laptop next to me.
     
  9. CharlesJohnson

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    See, I think that's awesome. We're in a tech heavy world, let's get the ball rolling. Connectivity, homework, research, personal use, responsibility not to break something. Fantastic. It should be turned off inside class. I can't imagine talking over all that typing and tapping. A computer still does not compensate for inter personal learning in a classroom.

    I'm also of the mind if your cellphone is out during my teaching time, for a non emergency, I get to stomp it into dust and make you eat the shards.

    This is why in 10 years we won't have doctors not named Patel.
     
  10. toddamus

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    Hell, one of my classes cheating is so simple if you don't do it you're fucking retarded. In my last online test for this class, I would literally copy and paste the questions into google and 75-80% of the time it'd work and I'd find the exact answer.

    So what kind of mischief should you look out for? Make sure you can't google the exact question and get the exact answer.

    Computers in the class are a good thing, but don't let computers be the only thing the kids use. Most of the stuff people do on them is mindless. Don't be afraid to use the dry erase board, let them break out the pen and paper occasionally.
     
  11. katokoch

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    This is interesting to me because I always thought my generation "grew up" with computers, I mean I had an email back in kindergarten that was stored on a floppy disk in 1994, but the technology today makes that seem ancient.

    I'm not a teacher but I just can't see having screens in front of the students at their desks 24/7 being a good thing, compared to structured chalkboard lecturing, etc. and computer focused time. I didn't take my laptop to classes in college and it isn't the same as a K-12 setting, but I wanna say the majority of time my classmates spent on them during class was to either fuck around on Facebook or "multitask" on other homework, etc. The computer is a fantastic weapon of mass distraction.

    I very much agree with this. It's not just finding the info online to begin with, but also using the internet to validate it too. There's a lot of computer skills that could be taught (like C++ I wish I'd learn sometime) but digging for information and content is a skill I've learned that is very valuable to me in my career today. My little bit of Google-Fu basically sets me apart from my team. It isn't rocket science, actually far from it, but is under-valued in my opinion.
     
  12. happyfunball

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    My kids' school don't have a computer for every kid, but they started a program where kids can bring in their own as long as they register them with the office. My oldest did, but found it was more of a pain in the ass than anything else, so she stopped doing it. I agree that notebooks or tablets are the way to go. We had a local school district that gave each kid a MAC I believe and got in trouble because one of the kids didn't return it so they turned on the webcam remotely. Huge huge mistake, particularly since the computer was in the kid's bedroom. I believe there is a lawsuit in the works.

    This isn't where I originally read it, but there's something to be said for actual notetaking. People remember better by taking actual notes.

    And computers in math class? In a roundabout way they already do. I have to get my kids $80 calculators for their math classes. I look at it and recognize the +, -, x, /, and the square root. It's insane. Time limits are good. They use the computer for their PSSAs and as far as I know, there haven't been any issues. And I would think if the test is taken during class time, the teacher could always walk around (old school baby!) to make sure they aren't cheating. The upside to taking tests this way is you get results almost immediately.

    I can text my oldest daughter at any given time during the day and get a response. I only use it for emergencies though:

    And what's this C++ everyone is talking about? I learned MS-DOS! And could program the Beverly Hills Cop theme (the beginning anyway):

     

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  13. D26

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    Few pieces of info to mention:

    1) we are phasing out text books. We've discussed e-books, but the corp hasn't approved them. The book is already mostly an outline, although I do force my kids to read and write summaries of what they read, as it forces them to try to comprehend what they're reading. Next year we'll just be using a classroom set of books, and they expect us to have a fully digital, text book free curriculum within 3 years, tops.

    2) Tests will be online next year, but also timed. They'll take them in class, with me walking around, but they'll have to log into the website (not sure which one I'm using yet) and take it. It'll only be open for the 50 minutes they're in class, but it grades automatically, which saves me a fuckload of time, and automatically mixes up questions, so they can't cheat off of each other. The main thing I have to look out for is kids opening other windows to look up answers, but they'll be forewarned that doing so will result in more essay-questions and fewer multi-choice and fill in the blank.

    3) I teach US (usually Junior) and World (usually Freshmen/Sophomores) history next year, and class length is just under 50 minutes a day. This makes it tough to do longer assignments or ideas.

    4) They really want to get us away from lectures. Some ideas that have been proposed include "flipped classrooms" where we have them watch lecture-based YouTube videos at home, and do their "homework" at school in class where we can help them. Other options are more hands-on projects, more reading, taking notes from reading rather than lecture, etc.

    My biggest concern is the gaming. The last school I subbed at gave every student a new MacBook Air. They would sit in class and play minecraft or watch movies, every day. When the school would force an update to the computers that disabled or removed games, the kids would find a work-around in a matter of hours.

    They also used the messengers to talk to each other frequently, but apparently were too dumb to realize anything they said in a messenger could be read by the IT department.

    With Chromebooks, they're cheap and don't necessarily run high-end software, so gaming wil be restricted to (likely) flash and browser based stuff, but any computer that connects to the schools Wifi has to go through their web filter, so they can't do certain things (I.e. Facebook, Tiwtter, Instagram, and YouTube are all banned by our web filter).
     
  14. Chellie

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    As a teacher, do you feel getting away from lectures will negatively impact students, or are those that learn best from them a small enough percentage that you don't think it'll matter much? I'm just curious, because I know I learned best from taking notes during lectures. Whether those notes were handwritten or typed on my laptop didn't really matter. Sorry if this derails the thread, delete if you think so.
     
  15. D26

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    It depends on the student, honestly. Some listen intently when I lecture, take notes, do great.

    Others sleep, ignore me, (try to) talk to their friends, or text on their phones.

    I would love for them to all pay attention, but the reality is lecturing can be really boring, and I understand that, and do it as little as possible. A lot of times I'll find ways to make them teach each other. For the record, I don't necessarily stop the texters, because if they're texting. They're not talking and bothering the kids who ARE paying attention. If i made them stop or took away their phones, they'd talk to the kids in class and I would have to constantly be addressing that. My theory is that their grades usually reflect the fact that they don't pay attention for shit, so when mommy and daddy ask why they're getting an F, I can just say "their face is constantly buried in a phone."

    For example, one method I've used is I make them read a section and make their own test/quiz questions over what they feel is most important. Then they exchange these and do other students "quizzes." Once that is done, I take a survey of questions and answers, and also hit them with any stuff I think is important that they may have missed. This results in about 20 minutes reading and making questions, 15 minutes taking the quizzes, and me "lecturing" only about 10 minutes, which is much more palletable for them, and they're more likely to listen.

    As for how computers affect that, my fear is they'll take the system. If I sent them home to watch video lectures I think I would get a LOT of "I watched it 4 times but I still don't get it!" When in fact they watched it once while simultaneously playing on Facebook.
     
  16. katokoch

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    I think this is an important consideration, since people definitely learn differently. My bigger concern is whether or not the students will be able to stay focused on anything, lecture or whatever, with that screen in front of them. I say that because I know I'd struggle with it.

    *Edit*
    Yeah, that.
     
  17. Binary

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    Obligatory xkcd comic on "good with computers" - spoilered for size:

    [​IMG]
     
  18. Binary

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    I think more integration of computers into the learning experience is important. Not just making things electronic - I mean, it's nice to get electronic grades or submit papers electronically, but that's not really improving learning, so much as solving some inefficiencies.

    We should really do things that computers are good at. Interactivity, for instance. You can flip through a textbook and see ariel photos of the pyramids. Or you can go to Google Earth and actually take a tour of the satellite data, explore, find things. I mean, look at this shit:
    <a class="postlink" href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/The+Great+Pyramid+at+Giza/@29.979272,31.134137,900m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x14584587ac8f291b:0x810c2f3fa2a52424" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">https://www.google.com/maps/place/The+G ... 3fa2a52424</a>

    You can see the pyramids. You can see photos people have taken there. You can see encroaching civilization. This really gives kids a real-time, interactive learning experience. I think that's something computers can add to the learning experience - you can learn, and then you can use the web to immediately contextualize or experience those concepts.

    As to how you prevent cheating, I think one of the best ways to do that is to make them explain or describe rather than just choosing an answer.
     
  19. katokoch

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    Is there was some way to automatically detect plagiarism so you couldn't just visit Wikipedia and use the copy/paste function?
     
  20. Binary

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    You've never tried to source check a paper before, have you?

    My experience is that A) 9 times out of 10 it's very easy to identify words that are not the student's own, and B) it's very easy to punch words into Google and turn up the source they copied it from.

    Besides, you can't fix all the cheaters. Kids are going to find a way to cheat if they really want to.