Typing on them is beyond painful and of the hundreds of students I taught, fewer than a dozen actually bought a physical keyboard. This meant that every task took 3x longer than necessary.
On top of this they are expensive. To anyone even remotely IT savvy it was clear from the get-go that this was going to be a failed experiment. Unfortunately education, like most other things follows the fashion of the time and everyone had to learn the hard way that a traditional computer is superior in every conceivable way.
Chromebooks are rubbish too, so I don't really see the move to them as a positive either.
What to your mind would not be rubbish? I'm a Microsoft employee, so I have a vested interest in Windows devices being the dominant choice for schools, but I don't see anything realistic students at the high school or below level couldn't do on Chromebooks.
Also, where do you live/teach? "Year 7" is not high school in the US. That is distinctly junior/middle school.
I'm in Australia. Nationally we are transitioning to a R-6 = Primary School, 7-12 = High School model.
My school is a little unorthodox. We're a private school with a 6-12 shared campus which is why I had experience teaching younger students even though I am HS trained.
> What to your mind would not be rubbish?
Either Mac or PC is fine in my books. Anything that allows them to install native software is fine. I recently did a small unit on binary data. It was really handy for students to install a hex editor, inspect a flat text file in binary mode and map out the ascii table for themselves. I don't think that's possible on a Chromebook.
I also teach Web dev. We use MAMP which is cross platform. We install VSCode, interact with the FS, create a local DB, file uploads, programmatic image resizing etc. My understanding is that this is not possible without jailbreaking (is that the right term?) a Chromebook.
I'm also opposed to any device that hides away the file system from the user. It relegates a computer to the dumb appliance category which I think is unhelpful.
They could have received iPads, Windows or linux setups... Wouldn't have mattered since there was no plan in place.
I'm at a point where I strongly believe schools should just hand out Raspberry Pis to students to tinker with instead. Add a proper curriculum and let the students fail, mess up their RPIs to get to know the system. Let them write simple scripts. Anything. RPIs are easy to restore.
Maybe other schools are doing better over here, but when my nephew (growing up with minecraft/pokemon go on mobile only) didn't dare to touch most of the stuff on his school laptop due to being afraid of messing up I tried very hard not to scream.
Considering how school should be the arena where you're allowed to mess up (and thus learn from your mistakes), this is so ass backwards (and sad) as it can possibly be.
When a school is no longer a safe zone for learning, you can pretty much just consider that generation pre-doomed, irrespective of topic. What a waste.
Honestly I think paper, pencils, and books are still the most effective tools for most primary education.
It likely was Flash-based. All I know is it didn't work in iPad Safari.
My kids didn't use them for much else other than games at home.
That the school system wasn't equipped to teach you anything but you somehow did just fine?
It doesn't have to be like that of course and I suppose that there is some neuro elitist aspect to kids just fiddling with the things that interest them...
It was quite different when I grew up. [Home] Internet was not a thing that existed and most data was analogue. When home computers became common I had to learn a bit about the system if I wanted to get some use out of it. I'm not saying user friendliness is somehow bad, it's what we should always aim for! We've come a long way and I like it here. I'm not that old, it's just that I had a childhood before home computers and internet were a thing.
The school system back when did in fact teach me a bit about computers. In my case, in [the equivalent to] high-school when home internet started to take off, our curriculum came to include (very) basic computer science, (very) basic coding in ... prolog? (prolog might be incorrect) We created home pages in class from scratch in html. Not by choice, as most of this concerned every student at my school. Maybe I was lucky?
In my nephews case, they were handed a computer, then absolutely nothing. And I mean nothing. They are still forced to bring the computer to every class but report hardly ever touching it at school. Maybe their bad experience is an exception. I hope so. Back then my teachers definitely weren't the best - or even good - at computer science but they were prepared to try and to learn together with the students.
You're not going to be able to take a Rasperry Pi, a monitor keyboard and mouse home with you in your backpack to do your homework on.
I agree that Chromebooks are not the ideal learning device for coding. I was thinking general schooling and glossed over your earlier comment about teaching coding. I think they can probably work there, but you're right that a "real" computer is a better choice for that.
There is a HUGE divide between production and consumer devices that keeps increasing every year. People don't have multi-use devices. Many of my peers use their iPad for everything or even just their phone.
Other than coding and video editing Chromebooks are pretty just as capable as a laptop in terms of production.
Example: I needed to re-image my laptop at work (I have 3 desktops, 2 iPads and one laptop) and I realized that my use of the laptop is the same as a Chromebook. I had absolutely no files on the computer that I needed to get off before re-imaging. Everything was Bit Torrent Sync and Git and the rest were just a few programs that were easily installed or on the "cloud" aka Google and Amazon's computers.
My own use of computers has always been desktop for video, image editing and coding (I need that screen space and a reference screen). I find laptops to always be very limiting for my production and that a Chromebook becomes a thin client with ssh and remote desktop. My $1,000 laptop is used like a $300 Chromebook.
No fancy IDE, but lots of actual learning to code.
> "With JupyterHub you can create a multi-user Hub which spawns, manages, and proxies multiple instances of the single-user Jupyter notebook server. Due to its flexibility and customization options, JupyterHub can be used to serve notebooks to a class of students, a corporate data science group, or a scientific research group."
I have grown less and less fond of Python but I still use Jupyter with other languages and I have it running on my personal server.
It's slightly more expensive than its Pi contemporary, but that's expected when everyone keeps flocking to the Pi and the alternative can't make use of the same volume discounts and self-fund engineering to put new board revisions out every year. And even for all that, it's a popular alternative—you're not left hanging out in no-man's land with some exotic hardware. Check the hackerboards.com surveys from over the years that show it trailing the Pi(s).
(It's pretty easy to enable developer mode in order to allow unsigned code to run, and then Ubuntu/other Linux can run it in a chroot, though education/corporate deployments can/should prohibit that by policy, so isn't relevant to the larger discussion, though it means personal ChromeOS laptops can be quite functional.)
The 'ssh' command has been removed. Please install the official SSH extension:
I might pick one up at Fry's today just for giggles.
Update: Tried to run the NaCl Development Environment on my macbook to get a taste and it just crashes on launch. Seems like a lot of people have the same problem on chromebooks too: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/nacl-development-e...
So maybe I'm not so excited to run out and buy a chromebook for development just yet.
Absolutely. Most 12 year old kids don't know about file size units. Relative file sizes, converting between units etc. There's so much incidental learning that occurs too. The other day i was discussing file sizes with a student and we observed that there was a difference between a file's reported size vs size on disk. This led to a great little segue about physical disk structure, tracks, sectors and clusters. The boy was fascinated with some lower level detail. All that learning would have been lost if we were using a gimped cloud based FS.
These days, those are abstractions as well. That's basically the API that the mass storage controller presents to the OS. I'm not sure you could explain a hard drive to a lay person anymore. Most of the time, I'm kind of surprised that they work at all.
Only if you are using them wrong; while I think iPads are poor tools forany purposes, including that one, from a UI perspective (or, at least, inefficient by the time you address the interface issues), iPads and Chromebooks don't restrict the ability to teach full-spectrum computing, as, they are perfectly capable tools for accessing and interacting with general purpose computers.
Now, clearly, the exact details of how you use them in that teaching and th supporting infrastructure might be slightly different than if you were giving students PCs, but then, you need a network environment with educational infrastructure if you are teaching full-spectrum computing with modern relevance anyway, and the detail are going to vary by what you use on the front end. That doesn't rule out any front end choice, it just means that the front end choice impacts other choices.
I understand that you're (probably) not on the VSCode team, but if you have any influence to get somebody who can reach out there, that'd be swell. Anyone using VSCode on Linux seems to be relying on MS's freely-downloadable-but-technically-not-OSS builds, and just building wrapper installers around that. I might be wrong. Something like diverse builds that aren't dependent on Microsoft would be the first step to getting VSCode into various distros' system images so you can do "sudo apt-get install vscode" on Debian or possibly find it in the default install on Ubuntu.
crouton unlocked a bit more functionality giving you the possibility of a Linux base layer, albeit likely not a great idea to have kids put the machines into dev mode. But that might be workable if staff did it.
I've dogfooded a bunch of the Web Development content we make at Udacity using either a pure Chromebook or Chromebook + Crouton.
Correct me if I'm wrong but is this not the hack where every time you boot your system it tells you to press a key to reset it and if you press that key it instantly blanks the partition.
This seem absurd even for an expert user to use full time let alone school kids.
It's true, though, that the whole process needs to be made more straightforward and easily circumventable. It's just not a part of crouton.
Just finding it ridiculous that HN users suggest this with a straight face every time we have this discussion.
Also is there a PURE Chromebook (or Chromebook+Android apps) setup to take an Udacity Android course?
Never got the point of a browser based OS.
If I were teaching programming today, I'd probably start with something like GoMix (https://gomix.com) or Scratch (https://scratch.mit.edu/) - neither of which require a download.
Not saying there isn't value in installing native software... but it's amazing what you can do in a web browser these days vs. 2010 when I was teaching middle schoolers intro programming.
Scratch has been around for about 15 years now, and 12 years in a workable state. And while it seems superficially to be helpful (none of that fussy text editing!), I have never met a programmer who got their start in Scratch.
It was a real environment, people were doing real things, and I learned based on the (at the time, quite bad) example of professionals. It also made it easy to go on Wikipedia and directly transfer concepts into my program from the pseudocode or C. Learning first in a real language gave me the opportunity to read many real programs very quickly.
I think GoMix and, to a lesser extent, Cloud9 give you a real language environment. I think that's a good step, though I have some minor qualms about the quality of the integrated text editors (which is really the web's fault).
Forget career-ready, I want naturals to never need to be told or convinced to program.
Don't want to threadcrap too much, but I deeply believe that most programming in the future will happen in environments like GoMix, in the same way that a ton of programming today happens in Visual Basic.
It's like a city would give a company a long-term contract for repairs to a stretch of important road, and the company started by locking it down and deciding that they'll profit more and work less if the road is not used and thus won't require so much repairs.
A thousand chinese state hackers on adderall can not disable a network so thoroughly as "Infrastructure Security" can, I don't even...
(we famously circumvented a block on using the browser in a very locked down windows machine by opening up Notepad or whatever, opening a file, right-clicking and managing to open an Explorer screen, which changes to IE when entering an URL)
No one I know "produces" content on an ipad but it's fine for HN comments or management emails. So maybe that's what we want to teach, not sure.
In theory I suppose the lesson is that if you are a "regular" user, IT is brutally unhelpful, and put your content on removable media or cloud storage.
This is not such a bad lesson, and the kids who care about owning their data will eventually figure the other side our for themselves.
I still think using general purpose computing devices in general education has value, mainly because then the kids who don't see that at home will get a chance. When you do it's like the whole world changes if you're made like that.
Yet there are thousands of content creation apps on the app store, many of which are very successful. An iPad Pro with keyboard and pencil is extremely capable at content creation. On mine I regularly use mine to write long form fiction, do web development, do iOS prototyping in swift playgrounds, draw and sketch art (pixel and comic book style), sign and annotate pdf's, and sometimes produce electronic music. I'm a software engineer by day and a indie game dev at night. For many of the content creation tasks I need the iPad Pro is among the best tools available.
Think of it like a notebook/scrapbook with pens/markers that doesn’t take any consumables, takes up less space in a bag, allows undo/redo, and makes sharing the products digitally a snap.
Works best when used alongside a laptop, rather than as a replacement, at least for me. I certainly wouldn’t want to write code on it full time.
For pen input, the iPad (display, stylus/digitizer, software) is better than anything you could buy for 50x the price a decade ago. For me, it’s not as good a general-purpose computer as a 10-year-old laptop, but it’s also not really supposed to be. There’s room in the world for more than one vision of computing to exist side by side.
I’m sure there are some customers / use cases where those differences aren’t a deal-breaker. Personally I really appreciate it. I have been very impressed with the iPad pen input. It’s clear their hardware and software engineers collaborated closely to make a really impressive device and experience. (Again, as long as you mainly are using pen input.)
It’s possible there’s other software out there that does a better job than Microsoft’s first party stuff or the couple of third-party apps I tried.
There's a package called "crouton" which makes it fairly simple to run a full Linux distribution alongside Chrome OS, as long as you switch it into developer mode (which is simple*). The trouble there is that it's not the sort of thing you would want to administrate in bulk.
Chromebooks are capable of running custom operating systems by design. Granted, you need to void the warranty (take out the firmware lock screw) to make another operating system the default boot option, for security reasons.
And of course, to manage custom images on Chromebooks for a general classroom environment could be hard.
Personally I think that the idea of the "school computer" is terrible. Schools should issue laptops which are maintained and administered by the student; otherwise students are just being taught helplessness. The only problem with this is that school boards typically buy a wide range of abysmal proprietary packages which are usually locked to a single OS vendor.
> I don't think that's possible on a Chromebook.
First google result for "web hex editor": https://hexed.it/
Took me 10 seconds to open, including googling for it.
If you have any experience with a large class of children, I'll bet you can guess how long most will be patient sitting in front of a web browser at school without thinking about loading another page.
Doesn't seem necessary on any level, though. Nothing about hex editing needs to be an app instead of a web page. If that were true, my computer education would have been crippling--especially in high school. I think you're projecting on your students.
Depends on the use case. So in your case where you teach programming, it makes sense, but there are legitimate cases where it makes sense to not expose the filesystem directly and disallow native apps. This has the benefit of better security.
I always found the better security argument to be a red herring in a school environment and always pushed back against it. If a computer breaks then re-image it. malware spreading? Wonderful! There's an amazing learning opportunity!!
The point is moot at my school now though as all students are required to bring their own device (Mac or PC), and of course they have full control over their own system. As it should be ;)
If you want teachers & students to use tech it needs to be truly frictionless.
Also we never really did any programming at school what so ever when I did it, I learnt it all myself at home hacking around doing useless things on my home computer. The closest we got was learning a few features and formulas for Excel, and a bit of databases in Access. There was a tiny bit of Visual Basic as well but that might have been tied together with the Access stuff.
What I found about your story most interesting is how you teach them how to look inside files with a hex editor. That sort of stuff seems like fundamental knowledge for people that use computers, and learning it could de-mystify computing somewhat.
But on the other hand car engines aren't that complicated either, not a lot of people tend to look under the hood and tinker with their engine either. But at least knowing the components of a system gives you some confidence in using it. It's not necessarily the engine but knowing how to change a car tyre, or a light bulb is helpful and can feel empowering.
Sure, you can't do that locally on a Chromebook without breaking out of the default system paradigm (I'm not sure it's technically jailbreaking, but that's not really important to the point.)
OTOH, if you aren't attached to locality, you can do most of it from a Chromebook without doing that, if you are running appropriate software on the backend to support it (e.g., for pretty much all but the "install VSCode" part, running something like Eclipse Che.)
You could ask "what do you find the benefits of teaching this as standard curriculum?" about pretty much every middle/high school class:
- Trigonometry? Most people don't need to know how to calculate the pythagorean theorem, only need to occasionally measure stuff with a tape.
- Chemistry? Most people don't need to know the periodic table, only not to mix bleach and ammonia.
- World History? Most people are never going to use all that Byzantine knowledge, just stick to more recent events.
- Foreign Language? Most people are never going to need more than enough to get by on vacation for a week.
- Music? You're never going to pick up that instrument again after graduation.
Now that computing has become an enormous part of life, doesn't it make senses to pull back the curtain a little? It's not like it's going to do them any harm.
We had LogoWriter in elementary school. We were programming at a very young age without really knowing that's what we were doing. (We also had this typing software with monsters or something that was easily gamed; it didn't check for errors. So you could type quickly, erase everything you typed, then type it correctly and you'd get something like 350 wpm.)
(I moved to a new district between elementary and middle school.)
In middle school I vaguely recall doing some kind of programming on commodore 64s.
In high school we had a BASIC programming class and also an AP Computer Science class in which we learned a little bit about programming Pascal. Some students did an independent study to learn C, but failed miserably - probably had no real support.
But honestly, I learned the most when I would stay overnight at my cousin's house and hack away at my uncle's computer (PC w/ I think MS-DOS) unsupervised. I broke it a few times, but was always terrified enough to figure out how to fix it. He had a few manuals, and I went through trying all kinds of commands. Figuring out why UNDELETE never worked taught me a bit about how hard disks were used by the OS, stuff like that.
Maybe we could all agree to just use pupil age in these discussions, to avoid the international confusion between "year 7", "4th grade", "primary 6", "middle school", "6th form", and all of the other country-specific nomenclature.
Different places teach different things at different times, so I don't think equating ages works very well.
Edit: Yup, their website lists them as being in Adelaide.
Year 7 is also the first year of secondary school (high school) in the UK.
The thing is, while the US tends to have the Elementary/Middle or Junior High/(Senior) High split in most places, the grade levels aren't the same.
I've seen (and this may not be exhaustive) the splits with the following grade levels:
We had iPads at one point, but luckily the school realised those were bad and I haven't seen them this year at all.
I could see giving kids access to a unix system via guacamole or a similar shell-in-browser solution and letting them run riot.
To help smooth the process of having them program on their own, I send home a writeup with how to install everything on a home computer for different operating systems, how to ask questions on StackOverflow and give an email address I have manned by other students that like responsibility.
I've worked off of them a few times, they're basically useless without internet is the only major drawback - if you connect to a RDP session the battery will last forever.
There are plenty of programming-in-a-browser tools available that are far from painful, plus now that they support Android apps, there's plenty of Android-based programming tools that are non-painful.
But, Microsoft refused to fix the problems with them. Sometimes you'd push the power button to put them to sleep/turn off the screen, and it wouldn't come back up without turning it off, losing your work. They refused to allow domain policy, so the school had to manually configure each one of them. For our small school, it was doable, but a larger school I could not imagine that.
They were cheap, productive, compatible, and problematic.
Microsoft had their chance at education, and they shot it down, hard.
Maybe the CBs are not the culprit, but the whole system has made then useless to everyone but the company that sold them to the district. iPads are just finessed off to pawn shops for cash by the kids, so they never really took hold to begin with.
1. pricing, no-brainer.
2. The two sometimes noticable conflicting goals of making no/low-effort admin computers and teaching kids to handle computers/do general things with them
nr2 there's no all-around answer to but my bias is towards something like the chromebook atleast even if execution might be flawed.
Those crazy web-only restrictions hit fast
I'm using my iPad for painting, writing, video creation every day. It is extremely useful and convenient for my purposes. It has a specific niche, and might not be for everyone, but I very often prefer it for specific tasks.
At this point, writing(in Editorial) for me is pretty much as convenient as writing on my laptop. I wouldn't code on ipad, but for notes(which I take a huge amount of) and fiction it's perfect.
And since they've introduced the stylus, it's insanely great for painting(in Procreate). I have a wacom tablet, but I still use my ipad all the time. And I can record the video tutorials, or stream my painting process on twitch, it's really cool.
And if I need to, I can use Pinnacle Pro to edit my videos, narrate voiceover over them, and publish them on youtube.
So the whole creative process - script writing, video recording, editing - can be done entirely on my tablet. I find it extremely cool.
- Here's a video I've made entirely on the ipad:
(sorry for the annoying voiceover, I'm working on getting better at it)
- And here's the collection of my favorite art made by other people:
Also Bear is another amazing iPad writing app. As good or better than anything on PC IMO. Clearly he's not "wrong", it's almost like people who like the iPad for content creation actually may know what they are talking about.
That's still version 1. It won't even open my files.
Also we are talking about iOS and Apple in this thread not sure what Android has to do with it.
What they claim to support, and what they actually do support, are not necessarily the same thing.
> Chromebooks are rubbish too, so I don't really see the move to them as a positive either.
You get what you pay for with Chromebooks. The school my kids are at now started giving Chromebooks to older kids and the initial ones were seriously underpowered with terrible low-res screens. We ended up buying my oldest an Acer Chromebook for $300 (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00MHX6TIA/). It has a full HD screen and can actually handle multiple tabs and apps running in the background.
For anything other than a serious programming class I would highly recommend Chromebooks for schools, but you need to push for a usable one.
Separately, I think that the better market opportunity would be for a cheap-ass Surface model -- essentially sitting below the Surface Pro line -- that could be marketed at the education market. I know MSFT has been pushing OneNote for classrooms, agnostic to the medium for how it's accessed, but the Surface pen + keyboard + tablet combination is something I WISH i had in high school
Too bad Intel canceled development on that processor line so they can't make a new one.
Now, it doesn't replace a textbook with an eBook or iBook, but rather with a plethora of crappy web pages.
The pros I see would be: size, price, similarity to desktop environment vs iOS
The potential flaws I see would be: Linux isn't windows, speed (maybe for image manipulation an issue?), not mobile (this would have to be an a computer lab), would require someone to set up.
Personal attacks are frowned upon here.
You could have very well made the rest of your point without the personal attack, which was quite unnecessary and unfounded.
It could only be because school administrators were won-over by the engaging user-experience - completely overlooking practicalities - back in 2010 even into 2014 iOS lacked decent enterprise-management tools that would enable staff to lock devices down as they're obvious distraction devices - things are made worse by Apple's decision to not have multiple user-profiles on the iPad and confusion with how Apple IDs work. I understand they've gone some way to address those issues - but other concerns still apply, such as the vision of a wide range of high-quality (and interactive, no-less!) iBooks to replace textbooks - simply hasn't happened due to massive cost of authoring even a single iBook. But the main blocker I feel is that staff (both teachers and school district IT folks) just don't want to have to manage them. I know an IT contractor who resigned his job at a private school after having to deal with setting up hundreds of iPad Mini devices for every student - he just simply hated the work involved.
As Apple is neglecting the desktop market, they're just as well neglecting the education market: remember when Apple had massive education market penetration in the late-1980s? Now there's not even an equivalent of the old eMac unless you count the now 3-years-old Mac Mini models.
There's supposed to be an intrinsically safe iPad Mini case available later this year (IIRC), and our manufacturing areas are salivating over the possibilities... But we might have to disappoint them, because the overhead of trying to manage hundreds of iPads would be truly insane.
Even if it is not the main reason, it sure helps keeping the priority low. But the iPad is an offshot of a phone and those are so personal (the real personal computers, just think of the place where people water-damage their phones) that it would be questionable wether spending "UI bandwidth" on user switching would be worth it even if implementation was free.
Would it help making households buy a second iPad?
I think that's more compelling than the argument of, "I need my own iPad so I can have my own space." Many people haven't realized they want their own space yet.
The real trick would be keeping everything in the cloud and making the devices interchangeable. So I could have 3 iPads and pick up any one to login.
It's like using a forklift to raise the barbell. Sure, the barbell goes up, but you don't get any stronger.
(I cannot write about a "forklift operator" without asking if you have seen this German "educational" film. It starts slowly, but... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oB6DN5dYWo )
Anyway, I appreciate it. Who said the Germans don't have a sense of humour?
People were less familiar with Macs than PCs, but from an IT perspective, it was heaven. There were only a few models, they were reliable, and everything "just worked" together. The most common snag was attempting to get floppies to work with people's PCs from home.
Sad to see the Apple desktops gone.
Nobody goes to the Apple Stores anymore, they're too crowded.
I have many personal data points on this, but below is the worst i've encountered in any retail store in my life:
I went into an Apple Store to purchase 3 (yes, 3) Macbook Pro's (old style, they were in stock at the time) in early December (for some new staff that were starting), knowing exactly the model I needed. I was told I would need to make an appointment and come back in 90mins. Really? A customer comes into your shop, looking at spending over £7k without hesitation and you say go away?!?
I said to the store member that I thought this was unacceptable, it would take someone literally 2 minutes to go into the storeroom, pull them off the shelf and swipe my card.
The response was that it was now the lead up to Christmas and they were very busy and there was nothing they could do about it. My response was that they need to tell their boss(es) to hire more staff for busy periods.
I walked out without purchasing and didn't return.
So did you buy online or.... ? ;)
I get they have a lot of people who need help making a decision around a purchase and they want to assist those people, but they have to realise some people just want to walk into a retail store, pay, and get out as quick as possible. I don't have 90+ minutes to hang around waiting in a shopping centre on a week day afternoon just to buy something.
I'm unaware of any other standard retail store where you would need to book an appointment to make a purchase, even high end jewellery & fashion.
To answer you & the sister comment - we didn't. We purchased some Dell laptops instead - cheaper, worse build quality, etc. but the staff are largely desk based and use Windows anyway. Performance is as good. We've since started buying less (almost no) Apple hardware as we are happy with the quality / price compromise in most instances. We would generally spend £50k a year with Apple, this year it will be more like £10k.
I think this is a common strategy.
...which is further evidence of the amazing foresight Apple had in basing macOS on an open-source core (BSD): it means Apple doesn't need to expend resources on maintaining critical functionality that isn't central to their profit strategy (e.g. BSD userland) (and it's why I believe the open-sourcing of key parts of the NT kernel and userland will happen eventually)
NeXT did it, not Apple.
And the goal of the time was just to help bring UNIX software into NeXTSTEP as they were competing against the likes of Solaris for market share.
The whole NeXT architecture has very little UNIX on it.
Having them sit upright, with good posture, at a desktop computer puts them in a different frame of mind when it comes to what they do on the device. I also have more input on directing their attention to being interested in computing, playing different types of games, and programming (dabbling in python mostly). My hope is they get a broader picture of computing, which won't be inhibited by the handicaps of iOS.
No one device can be the be-all and end-all. Yes my daughters watch a lot of dreck on Youtube, but my youngest recently got really excited and showed me her 'favourite video' and told me about this great channel she'd found called numberphile. My eldest watches tons of Anime, but recently got into AMV (Anime Music Videos) and is working on one for herself using Garageband and iMovie on our desktop. It's not the tool that matters, it's cultivating the mind and attitudes that count.
On devices in formal education, I don't think any good can come from kids carrying around any device to use in classrooms all the time until at least high school age. I'm a big fan of using computers educationally, they have specific places and roles to play in that process and one solution simply doesn't fit all cases. iPads, Chromebooks and 'proper' desktops and laptops all have strengths and weaknesses. I'd no more outfit a school entirely with one or the other than I'd replace everything on the road - lorrys, cars, buses - with one kind of vehicle. Tying kids permanently to one specific device just makes no sense to me.
Wouldn't this happen on a PC as well? ASCII games got me into computers years ago and led me down the path of wondering how to create them.
I think what's really happened is that we geeks do not understand why every single person does not want to know the inner workings of a computer. People are creative in different ways, many of which work great on an iPad.
It does kind of fascinate me how children today are so used to technology. My youngest relative is almost two years old, but he can find "youtube" on the iPad and can click on the peppa pig videos that he likes to watch. Or when he is in the mood for another app that tells stories, he can click on that.
Maybe I just hugely underestimate children, but it did surprise me that he can find the apps he wants.
I hope that when raising my own children, I can give them a broader picture of computing in the way that you are doing.
This is funny to me, because I was a bookworm as a kid. I often had a stiff neck because I was free to sit/lay in awkward positions as much as I wanted, as long as I had a book and I wasn't playing my NES.
Ever noticed when a lecturer writes a sentence on the chalk board, the only sound in the room is the sound of chalk? That isn't efficient use of time.
Don't blame the medium for poor public speaking skills. I was just in a 2-day classroom setting this week and the presenter was brilliant - switching from slides, which they annotated with a digital pen while presenting, to whiteboard, to discussion seamlessly, without losing interest or focus from the students.
Public speaking is a skill like any other that any educator needs to be good at. Don't blame the medium for your educator's poor public speaking skills.
One of my favorite education-related blogs is University Diaries, by Margaret Soltan (an English professor at George Washington University). She writes quite entertainingly and excoriatingly about the use of PowerPoint as an alternative to teaching: http://www.margaretsoltan.com/?s=powerpoint
I do use an electronic Wacom tablet when possible, so that I can at least give out pdfs of the lectures.
No hype, no expensive toys, just the right tech to solve the right problems without getting in your face.
Similarly, when computers are used sensibly in the classroom they are tools applied to certain parts of the instruction, and not the only medium of instruction.
That's true regardless of the equipment manufacturer.
I think having computers at home is the one compelling reason for all the "let's give everyone laptops/ipads" initiatives. It means that everyone has a device they can do typed reports or homework research on. I'm much less convinced that computers in the classroom are a clear value-add in many cases.
I've known a couple of families where the children received take home devices they were expected to use to do further research or school work on, but who were unable to due to the lack of internet. A few had dial-up which can be unusable with some of the education sites (all the js resources take too long to load, time out, and leave the page useless), but some had no internet at all. Some of these families had no heat/ac, to give an idea of the level of poverty. There were no libraries within walking distance either (nor public transit options).
I think the devices are a good thing, because it gives some of these kids exposure to computers they wouldn't have otherwise and if the school handles it correctly they can be used to do work from home (have all needed resources already loaded on the device), but I've seen multiple teachers not be able to account for the most impoverished students lacking internet action (I somewhat suspect the teachers don't always have a choice in the matter either).
You don't have a "pencil and paper" lab that is used the entire school day and scheduled around, and now computers have reached the commodity price point where they don't need to either.
If computers help learning, why have school results essentially been flat since 1970 or so?
Every student at my school was given a laptop (2005, but that practice started years earlier) - but we were in a special situation being a boarding school. Every student having a laptop meant that teachers could reasonably expect every student to write/research papers, install/run software, use email, etc - on their own time (nights/weekends/study times, etc).
My laptop lived in my dorm room, and if I needed it for a class or to go study somewhere I could take it - but that was a 2-3 times a week thing, not every day and certainly not every class. Day (non-boarding) students had it a bit rougher, as they were bringing their laptops back and forth from home every day, lugging them around from class to class.
Even in 2005, I don't think campus could have operated with the efficiency it did without every student having a laptop. Important information was sent out via email constantly (Lotus notes...), BlackBoard for class documents, lecture notes, etc.
But that was our situation. At a day school, I imagine technology is probably a nightmare. If 1 class each day needs kids to have a laptop, that means every student is walking around with their laptop all the time for no good reason. Sounds like a recipe for failure.
Not to mention the effect of "students have this technology so let's go out of our way to use it whenever we can"
1) A large pool of free, open e-textbooks that teachers can customize and contribute to for the needs of their class. Textbook publishers are the scum of the earth and most of their textbooks used in education suck terribly.
2) Access to video explanations/lectures, etc.
3) Adaptive assignments and exams like Kahn Academy that allows students to work on solving problems that are at their level and progress at a different pace than the class as a whole.
4) Easier for students, parents, and teachers to track progress towards educational goals over time.
5) Learning about computers. (Keyboarding to programming...)
Might be some other ways to use computers in education that would pay real benefits, please comment :)
But now looking back, I am glad they went through it, call it a phase if you must. The American school system (or government) is always last to adopt any tech. You can still find outdated technology barely holding together in some schools. But this time they did something different. They took a risk. They adopted something that hadn't been tested yet. Well now they tested it. We thought iPads were inferior to laptops or desktop, but now we know that they are, at least in the classroom.
Money was wasted, time was wasted, but at least now we know through experience.
I'm glad that they took the risk of trying something untested. And I hope that in the future they will do so again with whatever tech that looks promising in improving education.
Our school system is at a whole a lot better than the American, yet even here it's typically cost and business needs which define what IT makes it into classrooms, rather than educational needs.
Apple is unfortunately for Apple technically and financially unfit for most enterprise, and in the modern world schools are becoming enterprise.
Personally, I think the attempts that school IT make to prevent playing are great! They're the best way I can think of to create a generation of flexible problem-solvers who penetrate security for fun.
I was lucky to be at a place where my principals listened when I suggested that we pass -- for many of the reasons stated here. What I think most people don't appreciate, though, is how much of a marketing tool these iPads became in this space. There wasn't a parent who would come in for a visit who didn't want to see that the school was "innovative," and the surest way to (pretend) show that was to point to your iPad initiative. We held our with laser focus on our educational mission, but I saw many of our peers spend a ton of time, money, and effort, to try to use iPads in one way or another. Marketing was -- and often still is -- the real driving force behind the adoption of these devices.
Not choosing a Mac for school students should have always been a no brainer because, as mentioned a) cost, b)what benefit do Macs provide over say Windows laptops or chromebooks for high school students?
Apple did a real good job marketing their products to schools all over the country though.
I imagine high school students require a device to do basic coding, assignments, office applications (presentation, word), browsing and maybe basic image editing. Sure, in professional settings I can understand people choosing Macs, but but for high school students it just seems overkill for their use case.
Anyway I'm glad to see schools coming to their senses and move away from apple devices...into another (cheaper) walled garden.
Also, build quality, effective lack of malware and other system problems mean students (and teachers) don't have to deal with broken computers nearly as often.
It's only the last couple of years that windows has come close, and for hardware the compares in terms of durability, you'll be paying as much as Apple anyway (which schools are hesitant to do as they are underfunded)
I speak from years of experience as a teacher and IT manager, and as an apple hater.
Wake up times depend on sleep state mostly, not going to take more than 10 seconds anyway. Login times can be improved/made terrible by the IT department.
Build quality just depends on how much you spend, same with battery life.
Main problem with Apple is cost/lack of choice/ability to fix hardware.
OS boot time depends mostly on storage speed, not just the OS itself. My 2012 MBP takes 90s to boot before I upgraded it to SSD.
No brainer, really. A device's cost and what value you're getting from it are very important, especially in a classroom environment.
While I think that we're doing an excellent job at preparing tomorrow's teachers on how to educate kids; technology largely remains a point of friction in keeping kids focused because of the lack of good tools in the ecosystem. My high school district always received the short end of state funding and we never had any good tools available for physics simulations, art & design, CAD, or personal finance to name a few. Anything we did end up using was available as a web app with no OS dependence; and I see school districts pay extra for mac systems without any competitive advantages to the platform. It's largely a market mismatch that Apple's failed to address, and were largely being phased out because of this.
Also, I think Apple really missed a trick by not going after the education market with a more suitable device. With Windows, you never know what havoc the next update around the corner is going to wreak. And Chromebooks are still quite limited in many different things. By merely having a serious presence in this market, Apple would by now have had a best in class device because this is turning out to be the classic case of the one eyed man being the king of the land of the blind.
They are living too well with their generic phones, tablets and laptops.
Never have really used one of each.. but why is a Chromebook more limited than a iPad ?
The Chromebook has USB Ports, it has a Keyboard, you can add a mouse easily. In my experience tablets are just good for passive media consumption, light web browsing and light gaming.
It is more limited than a PC, but more versatile than an iPad.
I don't believe any newer/cheaper hardware from
Apple will help here.
Teaching only boring stuff has great potential to suck the fun out of computer use for them and does not encourage them to explore what it is they might want to do with a computer.
They open a document and start typing. They open a slide presentation and start moving pictures and words around. Collaborative work is automatic and they kids don't even think about it. I can remember a time when simultaneous editing of a document was something only CS PhD students dreamed about in their theses. Now my 7 year-old is doing it. And she finds it kind of fun, actually.
It doesn't need to be an indoctrination into corporate life and I haven't seen one iota of that in the classroom. They're just tools like everything else in their school.
Is writing on a whiteboard training for the business world, or just an easier/cleaner way to write so the whole room can see it? How about using a video projector overlaid on the whiteboard? Sitting on an exercise ball to minimize fidgeting? Standing desks? RFID cards in the lunchroom? Maybe they're all just applications of technology that have positive uses with the kids.
This is what I've been seeing as well. And I think that it's scary - Google Docs/etc is helping to lure in a lot of users. The district is on Google email, Google Drive, etc. What's scary to me is that the younger children do not recognize that there is such a thing as "email" that is not "Gmail." They expect everything to function just as their Google apps do.
Hook 'em young is working for Google. Offer the school districts the massive Google backend for a cheap price, and they're hooked. Then sell them Chromebooks "for compatibility" and they're really hooked.
The school system experienced all the challenges you'd expect from giving several thousand 14-18 year-olds expensive tech kit. Broken screens, porn, integrating technology into the curriculum, etc. (But, oh, those heady days when we knew more than the admins and played multiplayer Quake 3 or CroMag Rally—the latter came pre-loaded on the first images!—in the back of classrooms over school wi-fi.)
They switched from Apple to PCs in 2007 or thereabouts, but it was generally regarded as "worse" (more issues, more hardware problems, etc.).
I suspect Apple's strategy changed. They used to own primary school, but I think in the mid 2000's they started to back off that. Macs were becoming popular, including the rise of the iPhone, and the kiddie image wasn't in line with Apple's brand. Not to mention the hardware expense as schools a) bought more volume and b) went with lowest-cost options (like Chromebooks).
I'd have to think that the lack of repairability is a problem for some schools as well. My school district was one of the first to distribute laptops to junior high students (this was around 1999...and pre-WiFi I guess, since we all pointed the tops of our laptops to the infrared caps in the ceiling! ), and I remember seeing the IT guy with a stack of computers in the tech room, replacing screen after screen.
Every Pro device (MBP or iPadP) should come with atleast 100GB cloud storage IMO.