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Computing device for kid

Paul Anilprem
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Joined: Sep 23, 2000
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    7
My son is in 3rd grade and some kids in his class bring their iPads to school. My son feels left out because, according to him, kids with ipad are able to "research" their assignments, do the write up and email it right from the class. Further, when he is working in a group on an assignment, another kid with the ipad rules over everybody and doesn't incorporate his ideas or let him modify the submissions.

So now I am not sure what to do. I personally see tablets as an ultimate consumer device with little opportunity for learning (other than reading/browsing, which can be done on ereaders as well) and I see them as distraction for kids.

Another thing is that my son has already started learning basic flow charting for simple tasks such as finding which kid has the highest numbers of marbles in a bunch of kids and I have exposed him to simple programming aspects in a fun way using python (although he has no idea that what he is doing is actually programming!). So the point is I want him to use a device that gives him more power and more opportunity to learn how to wield that power. I think a tablet device is very limited in that aspect.

So what he knows and does is a lot more than any other kid in his class but just because he does not have an iPad, he is considered uncool. So should I just get him an iPad thinking I am buying him just another toy or get him a small netbook using which he can achieve a lot more than just browsing? Or do nothing?

Would appreciate any suggestions!


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Ernest Friedman-Hill
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Joined: Jul 08, 2003
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  34

Perhaps something like an ASUS Transformer (just a random link to one at NewEgg for $249, refurbed). It's an Android tabler with a detachable keyboard. These things are sweet, cheap, capable, and way more open and flexible than an iPad.


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Pat Farrell
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Joined: Aug 11, 2007
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    5

You could get an Android Nexus 7, which is arguably better than a Apple iPad. But kids, especially as they get to Jr High, are weird. Thinks like brands become exclusionary. Having the wrong brand may label you as a loser.

I'm not sure of the real educational value to any tablet. I guess if the school has good Internet connectivity, you can use it to google answers during tests, etc.

IMHO, the real computing device for a kid is an Arduino and a starter kit (breadboard, handful of LEDs, resistors and switches) from Adafruit.
Kids love blinking lights, don't just watch them, control them. Then add a motor-contoller shield and control servos, make a robot, rule the world.
Jayesh A Lalwani
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Joined: Jan 17, 2008
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  28

I think if you are getting a device for your kid, your main criteria should be get the device that his teacher can help him with. You can drop $500 on the the coolest little widget for him, but if he is stuck, and his teacher can't get him unstuck, it's $500 down the drain.
Joe Ess
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Joined: Oct 29, 2001
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    8

I'd contact your kid's teacher and let him/her know your concerns. The teacher may not be aware that the kids are not collaborating well, which I assume is the point of doing group work. I'd also be surprised if the teacher allows students to electronically submit assignments, but your school system may be more advanced than mine!
I have an iPad and a Nook I hacked to run plain Android. My boys (7 and 5) love them, mostly for games. It's cool to use the maps app to fly over a volcano, then switch to Youtube and watch a film about that volcano, so there may be some educational uses, but that requires heavy supervision and parental interaction.


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Jayesh A Lalwani
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  28

Schools are all going BYOD now, man! My kid is in kindergarten and they let us know that BYOD is an option. None of the kindergartners do it, but apparently many of the older kids do.
Paul Anilprem
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Joined: Sep 23, 2000
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    7
Thank you all for your inputs. Let me get some more feel from my son and his teacher about what exactly is going on and how other kids are coping with this problem. I was just wondering what other ranchers feel about the real value that a tablet may add to a child learning. There will always be kids/people who have cooler stuff than you. But if I absolutely have to remedy the "uncool" problem then I guess iPad is the only solution or may be Surface Pro (just kidding, can't spend that much ).

Jayesh, I think kids are usually ahead of the teacher (and even parents in many cases) in terms of technology. So more often than not it will be the teacher who will be stuck rather than the kids.
Ernest Friedman-Hill
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  34

Jayesh A Lalwani wrote:Schools are all going BYOD now, man! My kid is in kindergarten and they let us know that BYOD is an option.


Depends on where in the world you are, I guess. Our school district -- one of the best in the US -- bans personal electronic devices from the classroom (a ruling I heartily agree with.)
Paul Anilprem
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Joined: Sep 23, 2000
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    7
Ernest Friedman-Hill wrote:
Jayesh A Lalwani wrote:Schools are all going BYOD now, man! My kid is in kindergarten and they let us know that BYOD is an option.


Depends on where in the world you are, I guess. Our school district -- one of the best in the US -- bans personal electronic devices from the classroom (a ruling I heartily agree with.)

Totally agree. I wish they adopt that in our district as well.
Andy Jack
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Joined: Nov 22, 2012
Posts: 257
Ernest Friedman-Hill wrote:
Jayesh A Lalwani wrote:Schools are all going BYOD now, man! My kid is in kindergarten and they let us know that BYOD is an option.


Depends on where in the world you are, I guess. Our school district -- one of the best in the US -- bans personal electronic devices from the classroom (a ruling I heartily agree with.)


Out of curiosity, why do you agree with it ? I am not sure whether it is ok to let kids bring these things in class. I suspect that they will be misused or used for frivolous activities.


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Paul Anilprem
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Joined: Sep 23, 2000
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    7
Paul Anilprem wrote:
Ernest Friedman-Hill wrote:
Jayesh A Lalwani wrote:Schools are all going BYOD now, man! My kid is in kindergarten and they let us know that BYOD is an option.


Depends on where in the world you are, I guess. Our school district -- one of the best in the US -- bans personal electronic devices from the classroom (a ruling I heartily agree with.)

Totally agree. I wish they adopt that in our district as well.

Sorry, by adopt, I meant adopt that policy of banning personal electronic devices. I don't see them as any different from using headphones to listen to music in classrooms. It's an addiction really. Not good for kids.

There should be a certain "media" period or something in which kids can be taught how to use these devices to do research and how to get work done.
Jayesh A Lalwani
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Joined: Jan 17, 2008
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  28

Right, I'd rather have the kids using the computers in their heads than googling for answers on their IPad. Learning to use the Internet for research is important, but they have plenty of time to learn that as they grow up.

Steve Luke
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Joined: Jan 28, 2003
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  21

Tablets can be amazing content consumers - I think they can add a lot to the classroom if they are properly locked down from distractions. Unfortunately the only way to make sure they are locked down is to have responsible parents or have the devices controlled by the school - so generally speaking it won't happen (the first because most parents don't know how or are not motivated to lock it down, and the second because they are too expensive).

That said - as has been mentioned Android devices are pretty flexible and open, allowing you to do a lot with them. Including using the Scripting Layer for Android to install and run Python (and other language) scripting environments and live interpreters. If your kid is already doing some Python you might find it an opportunity to expand what he already knows.


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Pat Farrell
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Joined: Aug 11, 2007
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    5

Steve Luke wrote: I think they can add a lot to the classroom if they are properly locked down from distractions.


I have complete confidence that it is impossible to lock down a device in a school environment. Maybe the OP's 3rd grader won't be able to hack it, but by the time they are teenagers, betting that the locks will stay on is like expecting two hormonally driven 17 year olds to watch the movie at a drive in.

There was a time when schools would prohibit "bring your own device" in an attempt to control things. I believe that time is gone. Even corporate IT departments, which used to issue Blackberry phones and use Outlook are losing control, and there, the folks are employees who need their paycheck. In a school, the students are proxies for the customers, the taxpayers or the parents (at private schools).

I think there is a critical long term issue here. Today, an iPad is fairly expensive. But Moore's law holds, and in a few years the prices will drop by 75% or more. They will be everywhere. At that time, the classic school concept of memorizing facts (history, civics, geography) simply goes away. Teachers love these facts, since they allow objective tests that are easy to write and easy to grade. Schools are going to change, and I'm pretty sure that many teachers won't be able to adjust.
Steve Luke
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Joined: Jan 28, 2003
Posts: 4181
    
  21

Pat Farrell wrote:
Steve Luke wrote: I think they can add a lot to the classroom if they are properly locked down from distractions.


I have complete confidence that it is impossible to lock down a device in a school environment. Maybe the OP's 3rd grader won't be able to hack it, but by the time they are teenagers, betting that the locks will stay on is like expecting two hormonally driven 17 year olds to watch the movie at a drive in.

Yes, I meant for younger kids. The younger ones can be easily distracted and the device can be the source of the distraction. A device with some parental controls is usually enough to keep them on track. When they get in the teens then if they are motivated they will get around the blocks. At a certain point it is better to take the blocks away and give them free access (remove the distraction by making the device no big deal).
Jeanne Boyarsky
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Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 30540
    
150

Pat Farrell wrote: the classic school concept of memorizing facts (history, civics, geography) simply goes away. Teachers love these facts, since they allow objective tests that are easy to write and easy to grade. Schools are going to change, and I'm pretty sure that many teachers won't be able to adjust.

I shudder to think the next generation won't know where Texas is because "they could just look it up." Some things should be known.

As far as the device, I don't like the idea of doing something "because everyone else does." But I think the bigger issue here is the loss of teamwork. Which is just as important a skill for them to learn as doing "research." And something to bring up to the teacher.

One thing to suggest is to share use of the iPad within the group. Different people "drive" at different times. When I mentor the kids on a robotics team, I'm constantly passing around my iPad. (aka the docs/manual/etc.) Which goes back to learning about teamwork. It also helps with the income level problem. It's great that you are in a position to spend $500 on a device for an 8 year old. Not all 8 year olds are ready to not lose it. Not all parents can afford it. Forced sharing makes it helping the classroom and not helping one kid.


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