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Back in the olden days when I was a kid

 
 
Reply Mon 26 Jul, 2010 08:16 am
dinosaurs roamed the earth and nobody had a computer. Somehow my generation made it through school and went on to rethink the computer into what it is today. I love computers. I think they're dreamy.

When I got a computer for work it was a happy day. I could track stuff quick as a wink. Yipee! Eventually I came to use a point of sale/tracking program, a word processing program, and Photoshop. Wow!

So on with our story.....

The other day in my paper (amid all the articles of the woe befalling our public school system this year) was an article the district is spending $800,000 to "educate teachers on intergrating technology in the classroom". The article went on to throw a pity-party about how we don't have enough computers for each kid to have their own to use at school.

Most kids today are so tech-savvy that it seems a little absurd to spend class time on learning to operate a computer. I found myself wondering what kind of life we're preparing kids for -- how much of life will be handled by computer.

My question to you:

For those of you who don't work in a computer related field, how much of your work time is spent on the computer v. how much of your time is spent out in the field? (My answer would be 5/95% before Photoshop; 10/90% after Photoshop.)

On a different thread we were discussing the relevance of certain skills taught at school. How much emphasis should be given to "technological literacy", in your opinion. (My opinion is a lot less time and money should be spent on it.)

What are the benifits for students of learning something via computer v. learning in more traditional ways?

Thanks!
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Type: Question • Score: 21 • Views: 6,460 • Replies: 73

 
plainoldme
 
  3  
Reply Mon 26 Jul, 2010 08:55 am
While many kids today are very tech savvy . . . my own adult children have no patience with my skills but when I taught HS and now at the community college, I answer questions from the faculty too basic to put before tech support. . . I have had students at the community college who can not turn a computer on. Granted, none of them were born in this country.

I would love to learn PhotoShop, just to make funny composite pics, but that is another story.

People who are not native speakers are better off using a paper dictionary than relying on spellcheck because they are often so far off in their spelling choices, that either they put in words that spellcheck can't catch ("wife" for "with") or they end up with a corrected but ridiculous choice.

I worry about plagiarism but, so far, I have been able to catch students in the act. Plagiarism is easier on line than through index cards and library research.

That said, it is my understanding that the footnote has also gone the way of the dinosaur and even MLA uses in text citation. I say yeah! I wrote my thesis in 1997 and I know that I confused two books by the same author, which was particularly painful because he is one of my academic heroes.

I dislike the small amount of reading kids do today. When I was in high school, in addition to the books we studied in class, we had to write one book report for each month of the school year and had to read six books during the summer. Today's kids read one book during the summer unless they are in honors. On line reading is not a substitute because they are reading the gags and commentary of their peers.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Jul, 2010 09:08 am
@plainoldme,
Interesting!

I think I've actually UNlearned how to spell thanks to spell check.

Your point about kids reading less is really interesting. Speaking only for myself, my attention span to online articles is not as good as when reading printed material. I'm also distracted more often. Plus, I'm bombarded with advertisments. All of that interferes with my concentration.

dlowan
 
  2  
Reply Mon 26 Jul, 2010 09:12 am
@boomerang,
I mainly use my work computer for emails...(which are annoyingly constant) and a bit of research. However, apart from names and phone numbers of agencies and stuff, it is generally impossible to get the quality of info I need for work on the net without paying a fortune to subscribe to academic journals or one-off article subscriptions, so I buy books instead...which come out cheaper.

I also have to write the odd report or prepare training material.

That's it.
0 Replies
 
Green Witch
 
  3  
Reply Mon 26 Jul, 2010 09:19 am
@boomerang,
There was an article in The NY Times recently that said exactly what you have expressed about reading and learning on-line. Technology is making us all ADHD.

About 10 years ago we had this very thing happen in our school district. It was a big battle based on the very points you have expressed here. The computer consultants won and our school taxes went up 28% to pay for it all. Within two years what they had spent so much money on was already out of date and not powerful enough to handle the rapidly growing internet universe. I am good friends with a local HS teacher who admits that everything she knows about computers she has learned from her students. When she has a computer problem in her classroom it is more likely one of the students will fix it than for her to have to call on the very well paid, in-house MIS guy. I think most of our school taxes spent on computer labs has been wasted. We would be better off subsidizing laptops for students who cannot afford to buy one and let them just keep them with the hope they will take them to college.
0 Replies
 
plainoldme
 
  2  
Reply Mon 26 Jul, 2010 09:32 am
@boomerang,
I have poor eyesight and find reading articles on line less than user friendly. I also feel confined to sitting in front the computer rather than moving about with a book or magazine to read while cooking or waiting for an appliance to cycle through.

Some of my students actually like working out their ideas in long hand before sitting down at the computer. Some site the flickering screen as painful to watch for too long while others just feel they can think better with a pen in hand, writing. This includes the "college aged" as well as the non-traditional students.
0 Replies
 
Joe Nation
 
  3  
Reply Mon 26 Jul, 2010 09:51 am
If by "technological literacy" you mean the ability to research data in order to answer a question (What are the four most likely causes of colon cancer?) or to describe a moment in history (What conditions led to the British Empire's ceding it's power in India?) or to provide the next line after
10 DEF FND(X)=X^2
20 A=0
30.......
then I say spend whatever it takes.

What we 'manufacture' in this modern world (especially the USA) is information. The ability to find and mine data to provide that information is going to increasingly critical to our economy.

Joe(If the kids in Peshawar already know this, don't you think our kids should know how as well?)Nation
cicerone imposter
 
  2  
Reply Mon 26 Jul, 2010 11:29 am
My personal experience with computers during my working years have progressed from novice to novice, but it increased my productivity a thousand-fold. I worked as an accountant, and the computer was just beginning to take hold in our field, and I was able to transform some companies accounting system from manual to computerized which increased productivity for everybody.

I also designed my own macro-bookkeeping system for my consulting business, and was able to earn good money at least amount of effort to produce financial statements for the companies I worked for.

Finally, I purchased our first computer when my best friend who started programming computers back in the late fifties suggested I buy the Apple II at $1,000.

Our kids picked up on it very quickly, and learned how to program computers early which helped them in their education.

I now own two desktops and about four laptops; I find computer's tech improvements fascinating and rewarding. Where would we be without Photoshop, able2know, or Facebook?

roger
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Jul, 2010 11:57 am
@cicerone imposter,
Late fifties?
0 Replies
 
Eva
 
  3  
Reply Mon 26 Jul, 2010 03:01 pm
I teach at (and SonofEva attends) a small, independent private school where all highschool students are required to purchase Tablet PCs. The highschool building was the first fully wired educational building in the state. We have a college prep curriculum.

The students use their computers in almost all of their classes (exceptions being Art, Drama and the like.) Some classes use traditional textbooks, others use online textbooks. History classes are able to use original sources (instead of revisionist textbooks) through the Library of Congress site. In my Newspaper classes, the students reference mainstream newspapers online and produce our publications via desktop publishing.

Teachers give assignments via e-mail, and the students return their assignments by e-mailing them back to the instructor. Tablet PCs have a write-on screen, so they can even take tests (and teachers can grade them) by using a stylus. The screens swivel, so everyone in the classroom can easily see what is on one particular computer when it is needed.

Gradebooks are all kept online, as well as daily homework lists and lesson plans. Parents can access this information 24/7 as can the students and staff. This is a HUGE help for parents.

During winter snowstorms, we don't have to close school for Snow Days. We declare "Cyber Days" instead. Kids stay home and teachers send out all classroom instructional materials and assignments by 10 a.m. and are available all day by e-mail until 3:30 p.m. when assignments are due. (Teachers can do this from home if they are unable to get to the campus.) It's not as good as classroom instruction, but it's a whole lot better than cancelling school.

Our students have found that their Tablet PCs will just barely last through the four years of highschool. We have two IT people on staff to assist with tech support, but students help each other solve most of their problems.

All college students use computers, but many of them spend their first year or two going through a steep learning curve learning how to manage their own laptops. By the time our students get to college, they are already used to this. It's a big advantage, and well worth the expense to parents.
dlowan
 
  2  
Reply Mon 26 Jul, 2010 04:38 pm
@Eva,
Whoa...that's all very cool (except for the kids not getting a holiday on snow days.)

I especially love the access to direct sources for history!
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Mon 26 Jul, 2010 06:07 pm
@Joe Nation,
From what I've discerned, what they mean by "technological literacy" is taking online tests.

I guess that will help them with online dating and "find out which dead novelist you are" thingys.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Jul, 2010 06:09 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Wow! You got an early start!

Computers certainly do increase productivity. (But when I factor in the distractions I'm not so sure they increase mine.)

0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Mon 26 Jul, 2010 06:16 pm
@Eva,
Oh the glories of private school! That's all pretty impresive! I kick myself everyday for not following my gut on sending Mo to private school.

But I have to say -- copies of original source material was available in every school library of every school I ever attended. It was never really hidden from anyone; you just had to look a little harder for it.

Look at guys like Setanta and TwoPacks -- they didn't use computers to learn history.

And...

Even kids that don't have laptops to tote to class most likely have a computer at home that they manage so I don't get the "big learning curve" thing.
tsarstepan
 
  2  
Reply Mon 26 Jul, 2010 06:20 pm
@boomerang,
Full disclosure:
Personally, I barely ever touch a computer at work. For a total of 5 minutes a shift, I may have to look up a document on the law firm's cataloging system.

~

But without a computer, I most likely wouldn't have finished my BA degree in History. I wouldn't have the patience working writing and editing 13 to 18 page history papers on a manual typewriter. Though most of my actual research came from physical books and other analog sources (not digitally archived).

Library catalogue are far more accessible with computers. I couldn't imagine wasting hours on end leafing through the obsolete card catalogue system.

~
As for the primary and secondary education system? The role of computers is quite important. The key areas of industry in which the US needs to remain strong is engineering, computer sciences, and other innovation driven tech industries.

So yes! I'm a great supporter of technological literacy as a top priority in our education system.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Jul, 2010 06:34 pm
@Eva,
I'm impressed, Eva.
0 Replies
 
Eva
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Jul, 2010 07:54 pm
@dlowan,
dlowan wrote:

Whoa...that's all very cool (except for the kids not getting a holiday on snow days.)


The kids are at home all day, so it feels like a holiday to them! Besides, as soon as their work is finished (or if they want to take a break for an hour or two here & there) they can head outside and play in the snow. Believe me, they'd much rather not have to go to school extra days in May when the weather here is perfect! In fact, they give kids from other schools a hard time for having to stay for make-up days at the end of the year.
Eva
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Jul, 2010 07:56 pm
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:

From what I've discerned, what they mean by "technological literacy" is taking online tests...


That's only the tip of the iceberg, boomer. Check any college campus. Everyone there has a computer & uses it daily.
0 Replies
 
Eva
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Jul, 2010 08:20 pm
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:

Oh the glories of private school! That's all pretty impresive! I kick myself everyday for not following my gut on sending Mo to private school.

But I have to say -- copies of original source material was available in every school library of every school I ever attended. It was never really hidden from anyone; you just had to look a little harder for it.

Look at guys like Setanta and TwoPacks -- they didn't use computers to learn history.

And...

Even kids that don't have laptops to tote to class most likely have a computer at home that they manage so I don't get the "big learning curve" thing.


SonofEva went to public school for elementary, but our options were not so good once he got to middle school & above. Fortunately for him, he's an only child so we could afford to look at private schools (barely.) I'm sure you'll make the best possible choices for Mo. It's good to have options.

Yes, original source documents have always been available in libraries, but teachers have traditionally stuck close to their textbooks instead...often it is demanded by "approved" curriculum.

Yes, kids have computers at home, but that won't necessarily teach them how to manage problems with them on their own since Mom or Dad are there. I know SonofEva never fixed anything on his home computer...it was always too easy for him to call Dad. Now he has to figure things out during school hours on his own. That's what students need to know (and too often have to learn) once they're on their own at college.

Key phrases I hear from students all the time:

"Oh no, where did I save that?!" (Teacher reply: "Try your Search button.")

"It's not late! I know I sent it in on time!" (Teacher reply: "Check your Sent folder. If it's there, forward it to me. I'll check the date stamp and give you full credit if it proves you sent it in on time.")

"How come every time So-and-So sends me an attachment, it comes through in coding?" (Teacher reply: "Have him save his document in the prior version and resend it.")

Learning to use their computer in a working environment is totally different from playing games on it at home. And college instructors are not very forgiving.


0 Replies
 
plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Jul, 2010 09:07 pm
@Eva,
Your school sounds great!
0 Replies
 
 

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