Use of computers in the classroom

A Manitoba research report talks about the harm that computers can have on student learning.

In today’s Windsor Star, a story on the report appears. Representatives from both district school boards in the area were contacted and commented on the report.

The Montreal Gazette reported on the same story.

There are some broad, sweeping generalizations in the report but it should serve to remind us all that we are under scrutiny. There is a concern expressed in the report about the cost of putting technology in schools.

I’m reminded of the quote by Derek Bot. “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance”

If we don’t provide equity of access and instruction in public schools, where will students learn the attitudes, skills, and knowledge to be a responsible citizen in today’s society? In Ontario, we do have a program of Ministry licensed software that benefits all financially and importantly provides the opportunities for all schools for a common tool. (Disclaimer: Author is a member of the OSAPAC Committee)

With computers, we enable students to have access to more information, think deeper and more analytically, and view problems in ways never imagined in a traditional classroom. The challenge for us is to prove that it’s money well invested.

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A Fragile Internet

If you recall, over the weekend, access to YouTube was interrupted.  I happened to be following the discussion on Twitter through the BBC Technology feed.  There was wild speculation about what was happening but it seemed to boil down to the desire of the Pakistan government to block YouTube from its citizens.

Apparently, there was a video on the service that was determined to be very offensive.  So, to protect is citizens, steps were taken to address this.

This morning, an article from the BBS describes what they think happened.

To me, the issue isn’t what was happening from the government end.  What concerns me is that impact that such a move has globally.  The incident serves to remind us that the internet is a living entity.  It relies on the component parts.  But, what of those of us who rely on its availability for instant information and communication? 

The situation was resolved on two fronts.  Service was restored in a couple of hours and the offending video was removed from YouTube.

Locally, we had a similar incident yesterday.  Certainly not of global proportions but we were trying to arrange a get together of some colleagues and we were bantering back and forth via email about the weather conditions and the drive that some would endure.  Until internet access was cut for one of us because of construction.  We ended up having to resolve it the old fashioned way.  Telephones.

This poses a problem to those who provide these services.  What is considered to be acceptable up time?  For those of us on the other end as consumers, what can we consider to be acceptable services and do we all need to have a “Plan B” in our pockets?

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