Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 9, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

MINIATURIZING EDUCATION....Students at a local middle school here are all being given PDAs. Hell, why not just give them all GameBoys and cut out the middleman? Is this:

a) A sign of the apocolypse?
b) A sign that PDAs have finally come of age?
c) A sign that California is still wasting money it doesn't have?
d) A sign that I'm officially an old coot?

Now, it's true that I never personally became a PDA fan, so maybe it's one of those things I just don't get, but even so, I have to say that I just don't get it:

In Sandy Asper's English class, students already have begun writing essays on their PDAs, using miniature keyboards that plug into them. Their assignment is displayed on the board: write a five-paragraph essay about a favorite book. As students begin writing, the classroom quickly becomes a symphony of clicking and tapping.

Once finished, students beam their completed work to Asper's PDA. The technology is similar to that of a television remote control, in which digital information is carried through an infrared light beam.

"I can't tell you how excited I am," said the 32-year veteran teacher. "It will be infinitely better."

Writing essays on a PDA with a miniature keyboard? I suppose it's a perfect match in this case since the kids are being instructed to write one of those dreaded five paragraph essays.

Frankly, I have a hard time believing that this is really going to improve anyone's education, and the tech support problems seem like a nightmare. And even if it's a great idea, it's truly hard to see why we're spending $700,000 on this with a state budget as strapped as ours. Sacramento moves in mysterious ways.

Kevin Drum 9:41 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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