Every Generation - #Chromebooks, #iPads and... #Raspberry Pi

Beremiz Graphical Programming on Raspberry Pi

And what do all these machines do best? Run Google search, of course. Oh yes, and the free Google apps, such as its word processor.
Thus, students will be surfing the Web and watching a lot of cat videos. Nobody will be hacking the machine to learn how to code. Nobody will be replacing hard disks. 
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Colleague Steve Young recently highlighted this link, PC Mag's Beware of Chromebooks in the Classroom, with the following question:
Do you agree with this?

Here's my response...what about your's?

Yes, but this isn't a bad thing. Schools can buy Chromebooks for use at school, as well as iPads, that don't allow for real coding. That will meet the needs of many of our children, and, probably, all of our teachers. 

For the coders, hackers and engineer wannabees, why not just get them Raspberry Pi at about $100 a crack with all the necessary cables, SD card, WiFi and these kids can take these things home under the 82nd Legislature (http://bit.ly/ecstem then click view proposal)? Get companies to donate old flat screen monitors and USB keyboards/mice (or get bluetooth). Then kids can code to their heart's content, at school or home, learning Scratch, Python, C, all on the Raspberry Pi.

For school computing, testing and all that, they can use Chromebooks and iPads, both which will soon have Pearson's app of some sort. 

If we want to mix a little equity into this discussion, consider the following scenarios:

  • Low socio-economic students who are perceived as needing remediation - In these environments, the focus will be on technology that facilitates tutoring and drill-n-practice. Solutions--web-based or software--will focus on digital tutorials. Since most digital tutorials have moved online, then it should come as no surprise that devices like Chromebooks (low-cost) will have a great appeal to schools. Poor schools, poor students, low-cost devices...seems like a match made in...well, you know.
  • High socio-economic students are perceived as needing challenges that will prepare them for a life of uncertain opportunities. Uncertain because they will call upon those children to collaborate, create, innovate in ways that are unimaginable. That's why whatever the technology, it will require technologies that can keep pace with students. While they will also use the same tools the "lowies" use, they will also have access to enrichment activities far beyond that of their poverty-stricken counterparts. It is these students, who bored with a diet of easy technology, will want to experiment with Raspberry Pi technologies, strip wires with their teeth, dreaming of running a multi-million dollar company.

As stark as these two perspectives are, there is a third option. Everyone caught in between. Access to opportunities that foster engineering, science, technology and math will be offer haphazardly to these middle class students. It will all depend on how hard they push their children, their own backgrounds and discretionary income to have technologies accessible, as well as students having the motivation to do more than just consume content.

All of which brings me to Patrick J. Finn's book, Literacy with an Attitude. The author makes a few points that there are different kinds of literacy. Yet, literacy is not seen as dangerous in the U.S. because we have two kinds.
First, there is empowering education, which leads to powerful literacy, the kind of literacy that leads to positions of power and authority. Second, there is domesticating education, which leads to functional literacy, literacy that makes a person productive and dependable, not troublesome.

This isn't a new problem--that some kids will have access to programming, to making the computer do what they want it to do, while others in low socio-economic settings will do what the computer "tutors" them into. The problem has been around for many years.

One of my favorite quotes about technology in schools with "poor students" appears immediately below:
"Economically disadvantaged students, who often use the computer for remediation and basic skills, learn to do what the computer tells them, while more affluent students, who use it to learn programming and tool applications, learn to tell the computer what to do. Those who cannot claim computers as their own tool for exploring the world never grasp the power of technology...They are controlled by technology as adults--just as drill-and-practice routines controlled them as students."Source: Toward Digital Equity: Bridging the Divide in Education

The fight to encourage more learners to embrace tech as their own tool for exploring the world, rather than being controlled by technology, remains a vibrant one. Sound the alarms, marshal the troops, remember the battle must be fought every generation.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


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