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1382 posts

Uber Geek

  # 496367 21-Jul-2011 18:56
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One thing that springs to mind is that a number of people seem to be referring to primary schools with regards to these devices.

From memory the UN Human Rights charter (article 26) says something along the lines that 'Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementry and fundemental stages'.

So I am kind of wondering how a primary or intermediate school would get away with requiring parents to by IT devices and software, since that would not make the education free if it were a requirement. Also, allowing some people to have an advantage if they brought their own equipment whilst others lost out because they could not afford it would I think be a form of descrimination I suspect.

Software Engineer


18079 posts

Uber Geek


  # 496368 21-Jul-2011 19:01
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  Also, allowing some people to have an advantage if they brought their own equipment whilst others lost out because they could not afford it would I think be a form of descrimination I suspect.

Another way to look at it. Lets say that the issue over mandatory IT devices fails. So, all well and good, free education as you say. A school may decide to offer an option, where if parents provide said IT devices, the kids can join those classes using said IT devices. This way we keep free educaton, but have options available also.




10907 posts

Uber Geek

  # 496374 21-Jul-2011 19:20
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If you followed those links earlier, you would see these problems have been overcome in practice. Combination of keen parents, involved community, $15 per month cost, and a project to provide jobs to kids to help pay for it. Win/Win.

2493 posts

Uber Geek


  # 496404 21-Jul-2011 20:27
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gzt: If you followed those links earlier, you would see these problems have been overcome in practice. Combination of keen parents, involved community, $15 per month cost, and a project to provide jobs to kids to help pay for it. Win/Win.

In reality they haven't. My wife teaches at a decile 3 school in Auckland. Their school works incredibly hard to fundraise/minimise costs for families so that their kids can do basic activities like go to camp. Even so for a significant number (10%) of the families they couldn't find $95 to send their kids to camp. They offered time payment etc and gave significant notice. Some families just can't find even small seeming amounts of money for these sorts of activities.

Even school trips which require $3-$7 have some kids whose parents can't afford it. Finding $15 per month per child out of some of these families borders on dreaming. You can make all sorts of judgements on why but the reality is they won't pay. You'll end up with large numbers of bad debts and debt collectors being called in.

To expect the schools to pay for devices like these, the way they are funded, is also not realistic. For alot of schools it's a choice between painting the roof, employing a specialist teacher because they have alot of ESOL (English as a Second Language) children or buying IT.

Just my 2c worth based on what is actually like for schools, not what we would like it to be.


10907 posts

Uber Geek

  # 496418 21-Jul-2011 21:01
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Yeah, I understand that. It is a pilot project in a decile one district and I'm sure has taken a lot of dedication to make it happen. Who knows if the model can be replicated.

3889 posts

Uber Geek

  # 496463 21-Jul-2011 22:19
Send private message - Another Foxconn worker commits suicide

I confess I simply don't know what's going on in this space.

Random observation...

* Highest value product in the market
* New Zealand school recommending/preference for product
* Over worked, under paid (?), workers taking their lives

Perhaps it's not appropriate or fair to join those dots, I don't know... but that's my point - I don't know.

Promote New Zealand - Get yourself a domain name!!!

Check out mine - -

961 posts

Ultimate Geek


  # 496705 22-Jul-2011 13:59
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Whilst we still have children in this country going to school on empty stomachs and no shoes on their feet, how can we possibly ensure that ALL children have an equal opportunity to education. 

Requiring parents/communities to buy expensive and depreciative equipment to keep up with the rest of the class/school/country is wrong.

If the schools (principals/boards/government et al) believe it is essential for this equipment - then provide it.

Schools will have an ICT budget - they should evaluate how well they are using it.  The schools my daughters go to (aged 11 and 8) and where my wife works are kitted out entirely with Apple equipment.  I have nothing against Apple (let's not fight about this) but is it really the most cost effective use of the budget?  Sure the gear may not be as cool, but are we teaching our children that only cool looking equipment is suitable or how to use ICT to enhance and enable learning.

Another question (perhaps should have it's own thread) is the fact that we are significantly increasing the wireless saturation in a classroom full of physically developing bodies.  It's one thing having wireless routers with a couple of laptops (sorry MacBooks) but suddenly the classrooms are going to be filled with 20-30+ transmitting devices, all fighting for airspace, next door to more classrooms with the same.  Yes the jury is out on whether wireless is *really* damaging, but are we happy to be experimenting on our children?

Procrastination eventually pays off.


103 posts

Master Geek

  # 496991 23-Jul-2011 00:40
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Random thoughts...

For school, I'm a fan of the netbook ($200 on trademe or $300 new), small, good battery, preferably running linux, good for "Creation" of content, but iPad's can have a bluetooth keyboard......

For the schools IT dept, it should all be over the web, no software to install but an html5 browser. Google or MS docs, wikipeda. A well filtered wifi system.

My daughter is 3, loves the iPad, and is only allowed to do "learning games", she's got montessori maths and alphabet on there and is better at maths and letters than I was at 6. We also carefully limit her time, around 30 mins per day. (Usually in the car). She drives her own learning, and I like that.

The other day my 3 year old asked me what was "inside us", humans that is.... so we looked at google body on the net and flew 3d around the body, text books just can't do that, she was fascinated, now she knows where her brain and heart are (i think civilisation only figured that out a couple of centuries ago) :-)

How many text books can you carry on a 16gig device now? (answer - a gazillion, maybe more if you're "online"), my spine is still bent from a school with no lockers and having to carry 10kg's of Chemistry, Physics, Maths etc textbooks.

Ebooks are probably cheaper too, so that can offset the netbook purchase price.

103 posts

Master Geek

  # 496994 23-Jul-2011 00:53
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My daughter and her friend.

Why talk when you can twitter..... or are they competing over bluetooth to finish a spelling puzzle.... Sure thing is that they were learning.

BUT and it's a big one... This can't be used as a baby sitter, they still need to run, jump and climb trees. 

18079 posts

Uber Geek


  # 497036 23-Jul-2011 10:19
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I think your mistaken that netbooks or tablets at school will have full internet access. They will be following strictly education system curriculae and clearly will not be there for kids to access what they want, both for distraction and inappropriate content issues

6964 posts

Uber Geek


  # 497053 23-Jul-2011 11:34
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I think your mistaken that netbooks or tablets at school will have full internet access. They will be following strictly education system curriculae and clearly will not be there for kids to access what they want, both for distraction and inappropriate content issues

This is correct, in most instances internet traffic is dragged through a proxy the controls what and where they go.


BDFL - Memuneh
64659 posts

Uber Geek

Lifetime subscriber

  # 497265 24-Jul-2011 08:44
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Just received this:

Opinion & Commentary, from Mike Usmar, CEO of Computer Clubhouse, NZ & Pacific

Computers do not help children learn!

This statement is similar to the argument “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” – as the debate this week swirls around whether schools should have compulsory Ipads, or the next latest device. I fear we have forgotten that it is humans, both young and old, that empower technology, not the other way round.

There appears to be an assumption that a computer can be the magic bullet that will swoop in and miraculously provide the desperately required educational reform that our schools and communities here in NZ and across the globe need as they advance into the 21st century.

A few years ago Nicholas Negroponte launched a global campaign to ensure that every child living in poverty had a low cost laptop. This idea generated much excitement, and it still does today in some quarters. It wasn’t until I actually sat down with Nicholas in his Boston office in 2006, about a year after he launched One Laptop Per Child, that I realised that even he had fundamentally lost sight of the immense capacity for children to hunt down and seek out new learning that is principally inspired through the power of human interaction in the real world with teachers, mum’s, dads, grandparents and friends.

Then the focus turned to not only getting computers into the hands of every child, but providing internet access to every community so that users can talk to each other in the virtual world, and access vast amounts of data and knowledge. Once again, this prospect seems to excite people and dominants the focus of most countries today as they launch into the deployment of broadband infrastructure.

Surprisingly though, we do things quite differently at Computer Clubhouse, an organisation targeting youth in underserved communities through the creative use of technology. After bringing into each community we work with ultra-fast broadband and the very best technology we can afford at a community Clubhouse, we turn off the internet, power down the computer or laptop, turn off texting and instant messaging and do something quite old fashioned, yet has proven to be singularly the most effective tool we’ve found, to power all these technologies…..that is encouraging young people to talk about and listen to each other’s ideas and passions, and thereby releasing their creative talents.

There is no technology or algorithm that delivers the extraordinary results we see every day in Clubhouse when young people are able to build from a base of strong social, cultural and creative capital that each one of them brings to the table, regardless of where they live, their school decile rating, or whether they have a computer at home or not.

The assumption that we must teach our children and families computer skills so they can be better learners is false. It is that assumption which fuels the rise of “experts” delivering computer literacy courses to families, and “e-learning” inside class-rooms, becomes yet one more thing over-burdened teachers need to incorporate into lessons plans. Practically speaking, young people are not only more early adopters of technology than we adults, they can rapidly pass on new knowledge and skills to other young people and those around them (including their own teachers!). Educationalist then try to assess this truly 21st century approach to learning against rigid and limited learning standards that frankly fall short of the high-tech digital competencies our children and communities are building.

This practice of standardisation arose from the Industrial Age, when industrial schools were created to feed a cloned work force into factories. One of the most powerful pieces of research I’ve read was released in April of this year by our very own Chief Science Advisor to the New Zealand Prime Minister, Sir Peter Gluckman, in his report “Looking Ahead: Science Education for the Twenty First Century”, where he succinctly identifies the modern skills our young people need in order to bring about a competitive advantage for our country. He writes;

“The hierarchical, bureaucratic management styles that characterised industrial age enterprises are being replaced by flatter, more distributed management systems in which all employees are expected to play a role in understanding and improving the organisation’s products or performance. Where industrial age organisations required workers who were diligent, respected authority and took direction, today’s organisations need people who are adaptable and autonomous and can quickly learn new skills. They need people who can communicate their knowledge to others, build relationships and work in teams. They need people who can solve problems and who can take responsibility for all parts of a project”

So the limited singular intelligence model that sits as the over-arching force of our education system is becoming increasingly less relevant not only to our students who sit in the system, but also to the employers who will hire these kids when and if they graduate. Alvin Tofler in his book Future Shock, way back before the Internet was even invented, describes it like this:

"The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn."

Technology and the digital age is more than ever enabling and empowering young people to build on skill sets that are akin to multiple intelligences and multiple forms of literacy such as those Gluckman highlights in his report, and are perfectly attuned to what a modern socially connected broadband economy should look like. , This is indeed where our future sits as a small island state looking to trade our smarts and kiwi-can-do spirit into the globally connected digital market place.

So before we go out and invest in the latest piece of technology, perhaps we should look at the assets we Kiwi’s already have in abundance-- creative talent and our ability to think out-side the box-- and promote and celebrate learning environments where teachers and parents act as curators of talent; and where ideas are sparked from old fashioned habits such as respect for others, conversations, and relationship building. Perhaps one of the coolest things about technology and being connected is that new learning can now occur so much more, anywhere, anytime.

Mike Usmar
Computer Clubhouse 


10907 posts

Uber Geek

  # 497311 24-Jul-2011 11:06
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Mostly agree. Work like that and the Pt England project we discussed earlier is really the only way to develop the teaching methods required to integrate the technology into the school environment and pick the best tech at the best price for the job.

The worst thing that could happen is vendors leading the charge, and everyone else dancing to variations on their tune.

18079 posts

Uber Geek


  # 497334 24-Jul-2011 13:14
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Agree. I never really got an answer to my question, how will they be used. To me, a very, very nice extension to hard copy textbooks, but at the end of the day thats all it can be.

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