Tech in education survey doesn’t add up

According to a CNN report, computer software in 132 schools not using it one year and then using it the next, says that it didn’t help.

There are far too many variables and major overlooked factors in this experiment, despite 132 schools to make this meaningful. There has been plenty of evidence that kids can engage and learn from computers.

I believe this experimental approach is avoiding four major factors:

  • The general professional training of the teachers
  • The overall methodology or the curriculum
  • The means of measuring results
  • The general calibre of software used

Being trained to use the software is not the same as being trained to use software in education.

Computers in education are a tool that can be well used to engage student interest. This sounds like an “oh well let’s give it a go I suppose” kind of experiement.

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Shatner video phone mad cow

Rogers in Canada recently announced their video phone call service on their new HSDPA high speed wireless network (with very limited coverage and even disclaimers that service make be intermittent as the network is built out).

HSDPA offers huge mobile data possibilities but video calling is the vehicle that (sadly, and clearly not learning from Three’s failure in the UK) Rogers has chosen to use because quite frankly, it’s really hard to figure out how to convince consumers to spend extra money on a new network investment.

They had William Shatner (who is Canadian – and why can’t the Canadian media resist the urge to tell everyone about someone being Canadian every time they sneeze) show up to do some kind of tongue-in-cheek launch event.

However, in a seperate media interview (and I’m paraphrasing/remembering here) he talks about science fiction become reality – bear in mind that they only had voice communicators on Star Trek, vs. say Space 1999 – but then started to go on about how text messaging was not a very warm way to communicate with people, etc. I think he was trying to say that video phone calls were much more ‘in-person’ and friendly but didn’t specifically say that as far as I remember, and remember sheep need to be herded.

I was wondering if Rogers executives were cringing at Bill’s words though. The point of having a celebrity is that it lends some persuasion to influence all those susceptible people out there. Now, imagine how much money Rogers makes from text messaging, and now Bill has told lots of people that text messaging is bad, and yet this new service is only available around Toronto…

I didn’t get to see the full media launch video, so hopefully, for Rogers’ sake, not many people will get to see this ‘mad-cow’ (see Boston Legal), i.e. confusing media clip. Yeah, OK… the texters are addicted so Rogers is safe, but it was a little like watching Denny Crane put his foot in it.

My kingdom/PS3 for a Wii?

I got a PS3 on launch day, but it came with an opportunity cost other than the cash. I (for the first time) slept overnight in my car – well from 2am to 7am – a month before to get my pre-order in. That wasn’t the cost, and it beat sitting outside in a chair or tent like most people had to in near-zero temperatures. The EB Games store I went to knew how many of PS3s and Wiis they’d be getting and I had to choose between the two systems, so I went for the PS3. That was the choice.

Since last November I haven’t seen a Wii in stock anywhere and yet I’ve been bombarded with the Nintendo commercials. Don’t they realise they’re wasting money given that it’s hard to convert ad time in to sales when there’s nothing to buy?

Nintendo is notorious for under supplying. I don’t care what they say; I believe it’s a strategy to keep demand up. It also hurts the accessory partners.

Most stores I’ve contacted (and trust me I have a list of all the relevant store’s phone numbers from my PS3 pre-order adventure) either have no idea when they’ll get their next shipment, or have a date that keeps slipping.

Would I trade a PS3 (or more) for a Wii? Well, no. My 1080p screen (to get the best PS3 and XBox 360 experience) will no doubt stick it’s nose up at the Wii’s graphics, but I’d like to have one because 1) I’m a gadget junkie so I have all the others, 2) the controller concept and games seem like fun & 3) one gets to get off the couch.

Internet Borders – use the off switch

A handful of videos offensive to the Thai king have caused Thailand to ban YouTube access in the country. Apparently such acts in Thailand can lead to serious prison time.

Apparently the king is regarded as semi-divine – he is 79 and apparently the world’s longest-reigning monarch. I kinda think the hat could make him a comedy target, but then it never hurt the British Beefeater guards at Buckingham Palace.

The Thai communications minister claims that YouTube told him that there was “much worse ridicule of President Bush on the site” which is kept there. One of the offending clips replaced the monarch’s face with a monkey’s face – imagine that with Bush and decide for yourself how many people would bat an eyelid – good ol’ USian free-speech. These are clearly different cultures. While Thailand holds its monarch in high regard, it also has a quite public thriving hospitality industry 😉 which the US would frown upon for the most part even if it has a similar industry covertly operating too (as do um… most countries?).

This brings up the discussion of Internet culture borders and jurisdiction. Quite frankly I’m surprised that a more blunt stance is not taken in Thailand (compared to say China). If YouTube is under the jurisdiction of the US constitution, which would seem to allow rights that are most definately not in line with Thai national laws and morals (once you’ve figured out who is in charge after the 18 coups in 75 years), then why would Thailand condone access to it in the first place?

If you don’t like something on TV (allowing for the fact that in some countries like UK there are watershed times during the day before which mature content is not allowed), you can turn it off. If Thailand doesn’t like US morals, they can turn it off too – in fact why did they even allow it in the first place?

UPDATE:
These Turks know how to do it. But then again, it makes me wonder if the only really effective remaining democratic action one can take is moving country. It’s just a shame you can’t make your own with its own set of rules – ah well there’s always Second Life or um Weblo(?) but even the US Feds are starting to look into those.