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  Reply # 926871 4-Nov-2013 10:05
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I do not believe that this subject should be used as a vehicle to attack teachers. Just because new methods and aids are being deployed does not mean that teachers are bad, in fact it shows they are open minded to new ideas. Follow the ummm logic or lack of logic of some posting here
schools should still be using little slates and chalk for each child as anything else would suggest our teachers are bad.




Mike
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The views stated in my posts are my personal views and not that of any other organisation.

 

 Mac user, Windows curser, Chrome OS desired.

 

A Tiger in Africa, probably escaped from the Zoo.

 

 


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  Reply # 926879 4-Nov-2013 10:18
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hashbrown: Very good piece on how computer science is being taught in Vietnam. Be afraid for the future of our IT industry if we think shoving iPads into students hands makes them technology literate.

https://neil.fraser.name/news/2013/03/16/

I'm sure a few of you remember learning Logo.  Apparently not any more in NZ schools :(


Dang. That's both inspiring and depressing.

In the bullet pointed summary I know that at least 3 of the 4 statements hold true in this country.

AFAIK, there is no standard curriculum for CS. In the local college IT is basically what Fraser mentioned in his summary. All but one of the ICT teachers has a clue about the subject matter. I know the guy. He's a trained teacher, and could work in the private sector if he really wanted. He teaches the senior IT classes (mainly because he's the only one who really can). He's often frustrated with the lack of fundamental CS knowledge with the students he gets (who are "taught" by the other teachers).
There is a non-insignificant difference in subject matter knowledge between him and the next most knowledgeable teacher. The least knowledgeable teacher has a staggering level of ignorance when it comes to computers (it's seriously bad).

I remember using Logo on our school's Apple ][s (before the discovery of fire).

 
 
 
 


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  Reply # 926918 4-Nov-2013 11:18
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KiwiNZ: I do not believe that this subject should be used as a vehicle to attack teachers.


Fair enough.

Although my stance on BYODs being a waste of time and money in the current infrastucture still stands. It's hard not to qualify that stance without mentioning teaching standards.

KiwiNZ: 
Just because new methods and aids are being deployed does not mean that teachers are bad, in fact it shows they are open minded to new ideas.


Teachers are just normal people like you and me. As I've posted earlier, I would never question their sincerity. Teachers are also parents, and I know they have the same frustrations with under performing teachers as non-teaching parents do. Behind closed doors teachers will tell you the best way to get rid of a bad teacher is to complain about said teacher - often.

As for the new BYOD method demonstrating teachers/people are open minded to new ideas. Not sure if I agree with that assessment entirely. Certainly with younger generation teachers it's generally more accepted.

KiwiNZ: 
Follow the ummm logic or lack of logic of some posting here schools should still be using little slates and chalk for each child as anything else would suggest our teachers are bad.


One thing I have found most interesting is the seeming lack of progress in CS type education at pre-tertiary level.

When I was at college, the school had invested in 2 x Apple ][ PCs. It was a big deal back then - those things cost a fortune. However, the buzz around those machines was infectious. No internet, let alone Google or Facebook (in fact, no network connectivity whatsoever). The person responsible for them was one of the maths teachers (suffice to say, he become one of the early stream of teacher-turned-IT professionals that was prevalent in the day).
Anyway, the school nerds/geeks soaked up whatever they could learn on those machines. I think we had a school computer club. It was awesome.

Now? It'd be rare to find that sort of intense enthusiasm in a public (or any?) school. Knowing the level that's taught these days, it's fair to say I would've breezed through year 13 IT as a 4th former. Possibly a case of too much of a good thing?

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  Reply # 927003 4-Nov-2013 13:56
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The only problem I have with computers (whichever form they take) being handed to the kids is how it is used to benefit their learning.  Self study requires self motivation - something many in schools do not possess.  When children get behind or are struggling then the only way to bring them back into the mainstream is with small group or one-on-one sessions either with the teacher, teacher's aide or other learning support (including parent helpers).

Back to the question of which tablet - If all the resources are browser based I find it hard to believe that an IPad 3 is the minimum specification.  What the school ICT people should be doing is finding out what they are going to be delivering and finding a true minimum requirement to get the job done and provide a list of equipment that is capable.  If they are concerned about supporting multiple devices then the bar should be set at the lowest common factor.  

An $800 device in the bag of either of my girls at 8-10 would not last long - most of the classes at primary the bag is left outside the classroom on a hook which is not a great secure location.  Not to mention this is just yet another item to add to the ever increasing weight of the bag they have to carry every day.

I would suspect that most schools will not have an ICT professional - probably sub-contracted.  I know of a local school where their Wi-Fi was hacked and they are using 4x the bandwidth every month and no idea how to stop it.  These are the people who will be protecting our children from the bad things on the internet!!




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  Reply # 927033 4-Nov-2013 14:48
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Hopefully my wife can jump in tonight, but the idea that kids are given these devices and then have to fend for themselves or motivate themselves is not accurate. They're used to supplement and add to the teaching process of a particular topic. Something she said to me yesterday which rings true is that she can now assign the kids to do something on the iPad that is fun and interactive to support what she's been teaching - where as in the past she would have had to create a worksheet from scratch, print it, and distribute it for the kids to fill in. I think we all remember how boring worksheets were....

So in practice it's not at all "here's an iPad, go learn" it's "we just learned about this, now lets learn more about it by using this technology".

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  Reply # 927036 4-Nov-2013 15:12
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gehenna: Hopefully my wife can jump in tonight, but the idea that kids are given these devices and then have to fend for themselves or motivate themselves is not accurate. They're used to supplement and add to the teaching process of a particular topic. Something she said to me yesterday which rings true is that she can now assign the kids to do something on the iPad that is fun and interactive to support what she's been teaching - where as in the past she would have had to create a worksheet from scratch, print it, and distribute it for the kids to fill in. I think we all remember how boring worksheets were....

So in practice it's not at all "here's an iPad, go learn" it's "we just learned about this, now lets learn more about it by using this technology".

Is what your wife provides an app based solution or web based solution and do the children log into a personal account so she can monitor their activity/progress?  The school my youngest goes to was all talk about this website and that website that they were going to use to supplement their learning and I'm still waiting after a number of follow-ups. 

In the end my wife, who is teacher's aide, brought home the material (paper) she uses in the classroom for year 6 and sat down with her.  She has gone from a low score to upper third of the class and is more than ready for intermediate but that wasn't because of technology, it was because of targeted learning.

When this "iPads in schools" came up last year my feeling is that something only becomes a tool in the right hands - ICT is no different.  I have nothing against spending money on improving the education of my children as long as there is a quantifiable return on investment.  $600-$700 on something that will be used a couple of hours a week with a shelf life of a couple of years is unlikely to provide that benefit.

This is not a dig at teachers I personally think they do a great job on the whole - but hand on heart, does this make their job easier or harder?  I get the impression that for many it's another burden for their valuable "free time".

At least with school provided equipment it will be utilised more frequently throughout the school, there will be a maintenance plan and there will be a single technology throughout learning resources.  We can all imagine the scenario where little Johnny can't participate because; it's been stolen, he forgot it, it's broken, it's not been charged, it's not compatible, it's too slow, he accidentally pressed delete, the last update wiped the device, his older brother has filled it up with inappropriate material.




Procrastination eventually pays off.


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  Reply # 927064 4-Nov-2013 15:39
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She can answer you herself later if/when she gets a break from doing reports. However from being on the periphery my view is it's going to be the younger teachers that make good use of these tools, where the older ones aren't adverse to them because they are "Set in their ways" and don't see a benefit, but rather because they are scared and intimidated by the technology

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  Reply # 927068 4-Nov-2013 15:48
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Agreed




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  Reply # 927071 4-Nov-2013 15:56
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Can we take the iPads out of the discussion and see where that gets us?

OK, so how is giving kids and iPad and expecting them to learn any different from putting a TV in the classroom and expecting them to learn? Or handing the student a book and leaving them to it expecting they learn for that matter?

Sure audio visual input can be an aide to teaching and learning (as are books) but I think the anti-teacher sentiment that is coming across in the thread is that it putting the device at the centre of learning rather than the student seems like an abdication by the teacher. A students failure to learn is the parents failure to supply a tablet rather than the school/teacher/education system failing to provide a good learning environment.

Sure, the New Zealand education system could take an overhaul from top to bottom but that isn't the topic.

If we are serious about teaching CS why not Raspberry Pi and the professional development required for the teacher to actually teach CS to students with them? Yes, I am aware that the professional development cost would dwarf the cost of the hardware and that it would be hard for teachers.

Giving a student an iPad is like giving them a car. They might go somewhere useful and learn something but they might not. Giving them something like the Pi is like giving them a pile of parts and telling them to build a car. The opportunity to learn is not so easy to escape.




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  Reply # 927090 4-Nov-2013 16:23
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crackrdbycracku:  

OK, so how is giving kids and iPad and expecting them to learn any different from putting a TV in the classroom and expecting them to learn? Or handing the student a book and leaving them to it expecting they learn for that matter?


Because a TV or book is mono-directional content consumption, rather than bi-directional content interaction.  These devices aren't just given to a kid so they can learn by rote.  They're used as part of lessons to reinforce and supplement.  The idea that you'd give a kid a tablet and just send them on their way to learn is a bit farcical.  As is the idea that these devices can be compared to traditional learning methods and tools.  It's a whole new area that needs to be explored.  

These kids are also learning how to be responsible technology users.  They are taught to treat the gear with respect, to only use them at certain times where supervised but far enough away for the kids to learn to be independent users, to only use them when they're seated and to not carry them around if its not necessary.  This respectful use of the devices can only carry over into the home so that's a good thing right?  

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  Reply # 927104 4-Nov-2013 16:40
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gehenna:

Because a TV or book is mono-directional content consumption, rather than bi-directional content interaction.  These devices aren't just given to a kid so they can learn by rote.  They're used as part of lessons to reinforce and supplement.  



I think we ought to replace 'are' with 'can be' and 'should be'. Most people say the iPad is great for consumption, not education. 

gehenna:

The idea that you'd give a kid a tablet and just send them on their way to learn is a bit farcical.  



As farcical as say ... using the cane for discipline? 

gehenna:

As is the idea that these devices can be compared to traditional learning methods and tools.  It's a whole new area that needs to be explored.  



All the new technology that has been developed over the last few hundred years is all able to be described, often is best described, using the same 26 letters we have been using for a while now. Remember digital cameras? When I did teacher training these were going to be in every classroom ... in a few years. The tech will change learning methods are remarkably resistant to change.  




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  Reply # 927106 4-Nov-2013 16:44
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That's true, they're using iPads as their digital cameras in her class. Also using them to video record each other doing things like speeches so they can review and critique each other and themselves.

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  Reply # 927107 4-Nov-2013 16:45
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zaptor: 
I don't think you can get literacy or numeracy credits (pre-2014) for the non-core ones I mentioned (unless you're referring to the ones I didn't explicitly mention?)

I agree with the concept of teaching critical thinking in principle. The problem is the real world practice.
The sad practice of rubber stamping student achievement during primary/intermediate years seems all to common. It seems easier to pass any learning difficiencies to next year's teacher. This sort of thing can carry on until college. Along the way you get the odd teacher who does make a difference - but, they're in the minority.

I can't recall any teacher during my kid's pre-college years that taught critical thinking to any meaningful level. College wasn't much better. In an age where one would expect our teenagers to question and challenge the world around us (you know, like in the 60s-70s), it just seems we have widespread apathetic acceptance.

Personally, I think one of the best subjects to teach critical thinking would be coding/programming. Unfortunately, there's not enough people with a high degree of coding knowledge actually teaching (they tend to work as IT professionals).


You're probably right about numeracy. But honestly, Level 1 Maths is all you really need unless you want move go into a maths focused job. I can't say for all subjects, but most subjects with a major writing component offer literacy credits. Or at least in my experience they do :)

Maybe I've been lucky with my education, but most teachers I know will make a genuine effort to help any student looking for it. Unless you are in the class with your kids, I don't think you can make a fair judgment on what they're being taught. To say that teenagers don't question the world is a massive generalisation and you are underestimating what this generation is capable of. 

I have very little coding knowledge (something I hope to change at), but I don't see how it's the best subject for critical thinking. There is definitely a lot problem solving, but from my little knowledge it seems very black and white. Right is right and wrong is wrong, or at least in some respects. I would think English is the best subject for critical thinking, because there is no right or wrong. You are able to (and encouraged) to challenge the social norm and the best marks are given to those who offer perception and insight. Maybe our definitions of critical thinking differ slightly :)

Now to contribute something that's actually on topic! I think mandated tablets (or any kind of device) are ridiculous at this point in time. I think having the option of BYOD is great but shouldn't be compulsory. Having some form of access to the internet is a definitely necessity, but it should be provided by the school for now. I can't think of any reason a student needs 24/7 access.

Funnily enough, my worst experience with ICT at school was with the schools head of ICT (they were also a physics teacher). We were forced to use computers far too often, and most of the time it felt as if we weren't actually being taught a thing. As a result most people played games and went on YouTube. I know some people who hated physics because of this teacher, then the next year they loved it. Luckily, every other teacher I know used computers to aid the learning rather than replace it.

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  Reply # 927133 4-Nov-2013 18:03
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Well this is just my 2 cents, the school would be better off asking the government to pay for some Microsoft Surface's (I mean the original tables, not the tablets. Apparently renamed to PixelSense http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/pixelsense/whatissurface.aspx)

I've taught Programming in some schools and frankly most schools don't have the infrastructure in place to teach Programming efficiently. Only one school had a computer suite with all the software needed, a fully compliant IT department, and a willing teacher to control the environment and learn IT as well.

I'm currently doing an ICT degree and have been programming since I was 8 and one thing I can say for certain is that schools still teach as if they were in the 20th century.
Schools have not adapted to change, teachers have not adapted to change, IT is an integral part of society and those who say they can go a day without using a computer have no idea what a computer is.

Primary schools should not be requiring students to get personal devices, they should have large collaborative devices for groups to use like the Microsoft PixelSense which are useful in any subject and are easy for teachers to overwatch what the students do on them.




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Stefan Andres Charsley

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  Reply # 927144 4-Nov-2013 18:38
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thelimoman: 
I have very little coding knowledge (something I hope to change at), but I don't see how it's the best subject for critical thinking. There is definitely a lot problem solving, but from my little knowledge it seems very black and white. Right is right and wrong is wrong, or at least in some respects. I would think English is the best subject for critical thinking, because there is no right or wrong. You are able to (and encouraged) to challenge the social norm and the best marks are given to those who offer perception and insight. Maybe our definitions of critical thinking differ slightly :)


I would strongly recommend you learn coding using a procedural language. Javascript is okay. Python is arguably a better option but the advantage with Javascript is you can write something with nice visual feedback in a relatively short period of time, and you don't need to install anything since all you need is a web browser.
Avoid Scratch if you can. I find these "programming-by-numbers" languages tend to de-emphasize fundamental programming constructs.

Trust me. There is a lot of critical thinking that goes into coding. Training your brain to think like a programmer/computer is a very unique - yet satisfying - paradigm.

It's definitely not black and white. I suppose one could argue that coding is a lot like reading and writing with the computer screen as your canvas. There is an insane amount of abstraction, and the breadth to which computers integrate modern society is huge as you know.

Something I think every ICT teacher should watch is the Code.org promotional video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKIu9yen5nc



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