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.