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Old 09-14-2015, 10:09 PM
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Default Computers make you fat, lazy, and stupid

Or at least lazy...

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-34174796

Quote:
Investing heavily in school computers and classroom technology does not improve pupils' performance, says a global study from the OECD.
The think tank says frequent use of computers in schools is more likely to be associated with lower results.
The OECD's education director Andreas Schleicher says school technology had raised "too many false hopes".
Quote:
"If you look at the best-performing education systems, such as those in East Asia, they've been very cautious about using technology in their classrooms," said Mr Schleicher.
"Those students who use tablets and computers very often tend to do worse than those who use them moderately."
Quote:
The report says:
Students who use computers very frequently at school get worse results
Students who use computers moderately at school, such as once or twice a week, have "somewhat better learning outcomes" than students who use computers rarely
The results show "no appreciable improvements" in reading, mathematics or science in the countries that had invested heavily in information technology
High achieving school systems such as South Korea and Shanghai in China have lower levels of computer use in school
Singapore, with only a moderate use of technology in school, is top for digital skills
"One of the most disappointing findings of the report is that the socio-economic divide between students is not narrowed by technology, perhaps even amplified," said Mr Schleicher.
Quote:
He suggests that classroom technology can be a distraction and warns of pupils cutting and pasting "prefabricated" homework answers from the internet.
The study shows that "there is no single country in which the internet is used frequently at school by a majority of students and where students' performance improved".
Among the seven countries with the highest level of internet use in school, it found three experienced "significant declines" in reading performance - Australia, New Zealand and Sweden - and three more had results that had "stagnated" - Spain, Norway and Denmark.
Pretty interesting, and damning study. The school I teach at has transitioned over to ipads. It does have certain benefits, though there are definite headaches, not least of which is one that they don't touch on - Pearson, the primary publisher of etexts is completely inept with truly awful customer service, something which is difficult to avoid as they have what essentially amounts to a monopoly, leaving us with little choice but to endure their seeming complete disdain for whether everything works. That and any internet issues suddenly become a serious problem, forcing teachers into scrambled emergency plans. But hey, at least the kids don't have to carry around all those heavy books.
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Old 09-14-2015, 10:18 PM
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fuck the books. I'd have killed any number of cute organisms for an cross-linked index and a search feature in my dead-tree format research days.
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Old 09-14-2015, 10:39 PM
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As much as I love books, Google and JSTOR made it that much easier for me when I was doing any research. I miss being able to access all those articles. :/
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Old 09-14-2015, 10:51 PM
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As much as I love books, Google and JSTOR made it that much easier for me when I was doing any research. I miss being able to access all those articles. :/
I agree on JSTOR. I just wish Pearson would offer the Ecce Romani series (what I use to teach Latin I and II) as a real ibook so that it could be downloaded onto the ipad rather than only offer it through the app and requiring internet. As when the internet is down, massive problem.

There was one other interesting comment in that article that caught my attention:

Quote:
He said making sure that all children have a good grasp of reading and maths is a more effective way to close the gap than "access to hi-tech devices".
I think we focus too much on math, a subject which is completely useless beyond elementary school level for the majority of the population after they finish high school, and not enough on English.
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Old 09-14-2015, 11:37 PM
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Originally Posted by ShadowbaneX View Post
fuck the books. I'd have killed any number of cute organisms for an cross-linked index and a search feature in my dead-tree format research days.
I still have to use dead trees for the most part because academic books, particularly ones that are more than 10 years old, are almost never available in ebook format. Unless they're public domain, in which case I can usually find them online. So I waffle between being very appreciative of the advantages of the internet age and very frustrated that it does me no good about half of the time. But, yay WorldCat.
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Old 09-15-2015, 01:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Kimon View Post
think we focus too much on math, a subject which is completely useless beyond elementary school level for the majority of the population after they finish high school, and not enough on English.
I disagree. I may not use much "math" beyond a five function calculator, but the way of thing required to formulate or follow proofs and the methods of solving problems has applications far beyond the "mere numbers" aspect of Mathematics.

Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and the other "hard sciences" rely on the same basic principles of problem solving as mathematics -- from "story problems" to advanced Calculus.

FWIW, I learned more about speaking English properly in various Math classes and Spanish class than I ever did in English class.
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Old 09-15-2015, 01:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Weird Harold View Post
I disagree. I may not use much "math" beyond a five function calculator, but the way of thing required to formulate or follow proofs and the methods of solving problems has applications far beyond the "mere numbers" aspect of Mathematics.

Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and the other "hard sciences" rely on the same basic principles of problem solving as mathematics -- from "story problems" to advanced Calculus.

FWIW, I learned more about speaking English properly in various Math classes and Spanish class than I ever did in English class.
you know, I was just thinking the other day: thank goodness for my HS maths teacher. She cajoled, pushed, joked, and kept on and on and on until we got there. Now I have a job that heavily relies on logic and being able to create patterns and spot variations. In fact, I recently got a question on whether I'd be interested in getting more involved with data analysis - apparently I'm good at it. To which my first response was "ooh, cool, numbers!" and my second response was "ooh, dammit, I'm going to have to learn more about numbers, I don't know enough". To this day I don't know *why* I did the maths national exam, and even though it was my lowest score of the exams I took (and I knew it would be when I chose to go for it) I am so glad I pushed myself to do it anyways.
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Old 09-15-2015, 04:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kimon View Post
Pretty interesting, and damning study. The school I teach at has transitioned over to ipads. It does have certain benefits, though there are definite headaches, not least of which is one that they don't touch on - Pearson, the primary publisher of etexts is completely inept with truly awful customer service, something which is difficult to avoid as they have what essentially amounts to a monopoly, leaving us with little choice but to endure their seeming complete disdain for whether everything works. That and any internet issues suddenly become a serious problem, forcing teachers into scrambled emergency plans. But hey, at least the kids don't have to carry around all those heavy books.
What happens with the test results?
Over here, in the Netherlands, there has been a bit* of a scandal because it turned out that every test those children took on their computers was sent back to the publisher, allegedly to allow him to improve the method. The problem was that those kids had to log in with a personal ID, so it was possible for the publisher to keep track of precisely how well every single pupil was doing. If he stored that in a database, that would be quite valuable a decade or two later, when employers wanted to know about a possible new hire.

So, what specific privacy measures standards are there, and how well are they enforced?

* Only a bit, of course, because there were other things for people to worry about, like Zwarte Piet and such.
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Old 09-15-2015, 04:58 AM
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The problem was that those kids had to log in with a personal ID, so it was possible for the publisher to keep track of precisely how well every single pupil was doing. If he stored that in a database, that would be quite valuable a decade or two later, when employers wanted to know about a possible new hire.
to be fair, test scores in high school (or university or... well, any test scores, really) have little to nothing to do with how well a person would perform in a real life job. I've just seen in the news that a kid from my class, who used to barely scrape through several subjects has invented a new type of fabric that could save lives of people with severe burn wounds. I also know a guy whose IQ scores were off the charts, who never finished his degree... and he's completely dropped off the radar. Honestly, it's more about persistence and work ethic than brilliant scores.
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Old 09-15-2015, 05:15 AM
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to be fair, test scores in high school (or university or... well, any test scores, really) have little to nothing to do with how well a person would perform in a real life job. I've just seen in the news that a kid from my class, who used to barely scrape through several subjects has invented a new type of fabric that could save lives of people with severe burn wounds. I also know a guy whose IQ scores were off the charts, who never finished his degree... and he's completely dropped off the radar. Honestly, it's more about persistence and work ethic than brilliant scores.
True. Then again, that raises the following questions:
1. Do potential employers know that? If not, then this could still come back to haunt people decades later.
2. Is it possible (or may it be believed to be possible, which is the important thing when selling such data) to derive such "work ethic" info from what the software is sending back to the publisher?
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Old 09-15-2015, 05:52 AM
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True. Then again, that raises the following questions:
1. Do potential employers know that? If not, then this could still come back to haunt people decades later.
2. Is it possible (or may it be believed to be possible, which is the important thing when selling such data) to derive such "work ethic" info from what the software is sending back to the publisher?
1. I would hope that the employers are aware of this. In my experience, most of them are. When assembling their team, managers pay attention to people's personalities as much as their qualifications. Well, good managers do, anyways.

2. you'd need an expanded data set, covering several years worth of test results, maybe also including timestamps of how long the person spent to arrive at the answer.
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Old 09-15-2015, 07:18 AM
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2. you'd need an expanded data set, covering several years worth of test results, maybe also including timestamps of how long the person spent to arrive at the answer.
Oh dear, that would require quite a lot of data over a fairly long time. Like, for instance, tracking how well pupils do on the various tests and how much time they spend consulting the ebooks. Which it just so happens is the kind of info that these publishers can actually gather, so that's solved, isn't it?
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Old 09-15-2015, 11:07 AM
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The number of times I'd been searching through a book for some info and my brain just goes: "well this is taking too long. Just bring up the search tool so we can get back to writing this paper" is excessive.
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Old 09-15-2015, 11:20 AM
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The number of times I'd been searching through a book for some info and my brain just goes: "well this is taking too long. Just bring up the search tool so we can get back to writing this paper" is excessive.
So you looked in the index?
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Old 09-15-2015, 11:42 AM
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So you looked in the index?
Popish herecy!
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Old 09-15-2015, 12:38 PM
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So you looked in the index?
Yes. It said look in chapters 5, 6, 13, 24-27 & 35. My mind then said "well, keyword search" as I'm flipping through the pages...
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Old 09-15-2015, 02:31 PM
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It's about the level of mental exertion. When your brain has to work harder, it leaves a deeper impression. So more effort=more retention/understanding.

Computers may/do make something like writing a paper easier, but two years later you'll only have the gist of it.

There's no substitute for the mechanical/tactile feedback from turning physical pages, or the interpersonal feedback from tracking down an expert to discuss the topic with, the actual discussion, the walking through the library to get the book he recommended...it may be exhausting, but the brain will adapt for understanding the topic in a more holistic manner in response.
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Old 09-15-2015, 02:41 PM
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I think we focus too much on math, a subject which is completely useless beyond elementary school level for the majority of the population after they finish high school, and not enough on English.
I agree that there should be a stronger focus on English, but you're way off base on the issue of mathematics. It's just that our focus is misdirected in that arena. The ability to properly 'execute' things like simple algebra and calculus, convert logarithms, perform arithmetic operations...these are not particularly helpful for the general population.

But gaining the abilities to make rigorous arguments, to have an intuitive grasp of geometry (both Euclidean and hyperbolic), to understand how to precisely translate 'real' relationships to mathematical abstractions, and to know how algorithms work is all the result of a good mathematical education. It's a pity you need to major in it in the first place to get any value from the subject in this day and age.
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Old 09-15-2015, 03:38 PM
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I agree that there should be a stronger focus on English, but you're way off base on the issue of mathematics. It's just that our focus is misdirected in that arena. The ability to properly 'execute' things like simple algebra and calculus, convert logarithms, perform arithmetic operations...these are not particularly helpful for the general population.

But gaining the abilities to make rigorous arguments, to have an intuitive grasp of geometry (both Euclidean and hyperbolic), to understand how to precisely translate 'real' relationships to mathematical abstractions, and to know how algorithms work is all the result of a good mathematical education. It's a pity you need to major in it in the first place to get any value from the subject in this day and age.
You've just described the difference between the ACT/SAT and the GRE (Grad Record Examination). It is somewhat telling that while the verbal and analytical sections become significantly more sophisticated in complexity from the former to the latter, that the reverse is true for mathematics. Algebra, Trig, and Calc are very important if you plan on becoming an engineer, or are seeking a PhD in math or physics. Pretty useless for everyone else. Command of English (or insert any native language) by contrast is an important skill for the whole populace across the full range of professions. That is not to say that language classes (be they English, German, Latin, or Greek - and the last two were picked up starting in undergrad) were the only that I found useful. A knowledge of history and science (more so biology than chemistry or physics) is also useful for all. I simply can't say the same for the algebra, trig, and calc classes I took in high school. They served but one purpose - hoops one had to jump through, and master, for the ACT and or SAT. After which they could be discarded from usefulness forever.

It begs the question, does it not? Is it really efficient to expend so much effort to mastering a skill that we openly intend for even the vast majority of college bound students to immediately discard from subsequent use? Could that time perhaps not better be served honing skills that we intend them to keep?

Last edited by Kimon; 09-15-2015 at 03:44 PM.
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Old 09-15-2015, 04:40 PM
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So you're suggesting that, if they really are interested in pursuing professions where any advanced math is needed, they will decide to take those introductory math courses in university, along with the classes where they are already expected to at least have a basic understanding of the curriculum?

That would require a complete overhaul of the way kids are taught.
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Life is a dream from which we all must wake before we can dream again.

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