Friday, March 16, 2007

More Questions?

I have more questions (but no answers!) about the type of school reform that Classrooms for the Future promotes:
1. Is our school schedule, with its 42-minute periods, becoming obsolete? Forty-two minutes is hardly enough time when students are booting up laptops, working in groups, discussing, researching, designing projects . .. and then powering down the laptops and returning them to the cart. Some schools are combining classes--for example, English and social studies or math and science--and scheduling students for the two-period block. The teachers team teach the block. What do you think about that model?

2. Is it more important that students cover more material with less detail and understand the broad concepts? Or is it vital that they know the who, what, when, where, and how? Or if they need a fact, can they just look it up on the Internet or in a book?

3. Is it time to stop buying textbooks for some classes, since they're often out of date by the time they are published? Geography changes by the minute, and Pluto is no longer a planet. Can students find more reliable, current information on the Internet? Can the money normally spent on textbooks be shifted toward more staff development, computers, projection systems, etc?

These are all ideas being discussed in the educational technology literature. What do YOU think?

1 comment:

  1. 1. The 42-minute period does not work well within a system that integrates technology properly. Things could be done that would maximize the use of technology while increasing the time allotted to each class period only slightly. You could have static labs using laptops in each classroom instead of conventional desktops. I am not talking about using old laptops to create a "connection" or the appearance of a computer lab though. A static laptop mini-lab would reduce the amount of space needed in the classroom as well as noise from the units themselves. It would also reduce the load on existing electrical circuits in each classroom allowing you to operate with only minimal electrical-circuit upgrades. 10 laptops draw about 5-6 amps at peak instead of 20 or more amps for the same amount of desktops. You could further reduce the power consumption by purchasing the "HE" versions of laptops that aren’t as power hungry. These laptops would be more reliable because you would not be moving them from the classroom. Each room would be outfitted with "X" amount of laptops that would remain plugged-in to AC and network. Battery problems would disappear and network connectivity would be maximized. You would need to increase connectivity in each classroom though. A separate drop to each computer back to the building’s central wiring closet would be needed to implement the system correctly. This shouldn't be ignored since implementation of this grant requires infrastructure upgrades anyway. Also, if you use an all-wired approach, you will have less security problems posed by a completely wireless environment.

    2. I think this would be a subject by subject decision. Math and reading classes are "more detail" classes while ancient history or something like that could be "less detail." The exception would be if the history class was taught by and made extremely interesting by Mr. Wit. I wish I could go back and retake Civil War and Pennsylvania history again. Very cool!

    3. I think it is again a subject by subject case. Geography and science change rapidly. Even on a daily basis. Books in these areas are outdated by the time they go to print. However, the rules and semantics for the “3 Rs” do not change that often. I think books are needed in those instances. A big area where money could be saved would be in periodicals or serials. The Internet should be evaluated as a replacement for those items. Add more laptops where they were once located!

    P.S.

    Pluto will always be a planet! No matter what the astronomical society thinks!

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