Will this sort of device be the breakthrough to move schools from a paper bound environment to a digital one? With Rupert Murdoch and Joel Klein involved, it has a shot.
For sale only to schools for now, the Amplify tablet comes pre-loaded with virtually everything a student will encounter during the school day, including all the textbooks, lessons, tests and e-books she might be assigned.
What's perhaps more significant, Amplify will give teachers the ability to both monitor and control what students do with the device. Teachers can conduct lessons with an entire class or small group and can instantly see what websites or lesson areas students are visiting. A teacher dashboard allows them to take instant polls, ask kids to "raise their hands" virtually and, if things get out of hand, redirect the entire class with an "Eyes on Teacher" button that instantly pushes the message out to every screen.
Thomas Friedman's column on "The Professors' Big State" after attending a conference with Harvard and MIT entitled “Online Learning and the Future of Residential Education”.
¶Therefore, we have to get beyond the current system of information and delivery — the professorial “sage on the stage” and students taking notes, followed by a superficial assessment, to one in which students are asked and empowered to master more basic material online at their own pace, and the classroom becomes a place where the application of that knowledge can be honed through lab experiments and discussions with the professor. There seemed to be a strong consensus that this “blended model” combining online lectures with a teacher-led classroom experience was the ideal. Last fall, San Jose State used the online lectures and interactive exercises of M.I.T.’s introductory online Circuits and Electronics course. Students would watch the M.I.T. lectures and do the exercises at home, and then come to class, where the first 15 minutes were reserved for questions and answers with the San Jose State professor, and the last 45 were devoted to problem solving and discussion. Preliminary numbers indicate that those passing the class went from nearly 60 percent to about 90 percent. And since this course was the first step to a degree in science and technology, it meant that one-third more students potentially moved on toward a degree and career in that field.
The national survey of 1,000 students in Grades 6 through 8 found that:
39 percent use smartphones for homework.
26 percent use smartphones at least weekly for homework.
31 percent use tablets for homework.
29 percent of those with household incomes under $25,000 use smartphones for homework.
Hispanics and African-Americans are more likely than whites to use smartphones for homework, at 49 percent, 42 percent, and 36 percent, respectively.
These free distance-learning programs are targeted to grades 4-8 and are supported with multi-disciplinary lesson plans, interactive student resources, program scripts, and other materials to help teachers make history exciting and relevant for students. The electronic field trips are offered on public television and cable stations nationwide, and on the internet.
With an agenda that Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, has described as a “quiet revolution,” the Obama administration has pushed rigorous new standards for a majority of the nation’s public schools as well as requirements that states and districts evaluate not just schools but individual teachers, in part by assessing their ability to improve student scores on standardized tests.
But some critics suggest that at the same time the administration has gotten tough on teachers and set higher standards, it could be allowing states to set new, unambitious goals for how quickly students must reach those standards, particularly poor and minority students.
Obviously the secretary isn't a dystopian and an optimist about this happening given the huge national debt.
The transition to digital involves much more than scanning books and uploading them to computers, tablet devices or e-readers. Proponents describe a comprehensive shift to immersive, online learning experiences that engage students in a way a textbook never could.
The tug of war is only going to get more intense. Wireless carriers are betting they can pull bills even higher by offering faster speeds on expensive new networks and new usage-based data plans. The effort will test the limits of consumer spending as the draw of new technology competes with cellphone owners' more rudimentary needs and desires.
So far, telecom is winning. Labor Department data released Tuesday show spending on phone services rose more than 4% last year, the fastest rate since 2005. During and after the recession, consumers cut back broadly on their spending.
The New York Times reports that not only does cloud computing not always work seemlessly among one's devices but that it contributes to global pollution via its huge Internet server system.
A yearlong examination by The New York Times has revealed that this foundation of the information industry is sharply at odds with its image of sleek efficiency and environmental friendliness.
Most data centers, by design, consume vast amounts of energy in an incongruously wasteful manner, interviews and documents show. Online companies typically run their facilities at maximum capacity around the clock, whatever the demand. As a result, data centers can waste 90 percent or more of the electricity they pull off the grid, The Times found.