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General Chat Thread, An EduGeek 'Free' School - What would you do? in General; Originally Posted by jamesb Why do a certificate course in it? So that it's taught properly, not just lumped in ...
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    dhicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamesb View Post
    Why do a certificate course in it?
    So that it's taught properly, not just lumped in with a general GCSE. GCSEs are academic subjects, doing a certificate course would give the pupil something to take away immediatly with them, even if they can't pass a whole GCSE.

    I also don't see the need for a dedicated classroom when tablets with an actual keyboard would be much more effective, and generally faster to use.
    But that would mean designing the tablet PC in a particular way to suite one function - sitting down and hammering reams of text into a word-processor, which you'd rather hope pupils won't be doing very much of. They shouldn't have any need to copy-type, and it won't do them any harm to have to think while they're typing an email.

    In a classroom how's speech-to-text going to help?
    Probably very little, but the PC should be capable of it, just incase thing improve in a few years time. Note that "capable of speech-to-text" just means "has a microphone (or inputs for an external one)" - I'd expect speech to be processed on a server, and to be used in relativly few cases, you wouldn't have a whole class talking away.

    Text-to-speech is handy, but again you've then either got kids wearing headphones and struggling to hear the teacher
    Again, I'd expect text-to-speech to be used in relativly few cases, in which case you can more closly control the pupil's use of the hardware, and could probably afford better equipment, i.e. you'd have maybe half-a-dozen pupils in a school with a need for text-to-speech, and those could have decent headphones or maybe a directional speaker.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    So that it's taught properly, not just lumped in with a general GCSE. GCSEs are academic subjects, doing a certificate course would give the pupil something to take away immediatly with them, even if they can't pass a whole GCSE.
    Okay, can't argue with that one, and at least it's an easy one to test.

    But that would mean designing the tablet PC in a particular way to suite one function - sitting down and hammering reams of text into a word-processor, which you'd rather hope pupils won't be doing very much of. They shouldn't have any need to copy-type, and it won't do them any harm to have to think while they're typing an email.
    You're assuming that's the only function of touch-typing, it's not. Being able to quickly fire off commands is useful.

    As for the e-mail argument, well, people don't think when they're typing an e-mail normally. If you're touch-typing it you can actually read the e-mail as you type, meaning that you're more likely to pick up typos or mistakes as you go. You're much more likely to miss a mistake if your attention is split between keyboard and actual text coming up.

    Probably very little, but the PC should be capable of it, just incase thing improve in a few years time. Note that "capable of speech-to-text" just means "has a microphone (or inputs for an external one)" - I'd expect speech to be processed on a server, and to be used in relativly few cases, you wouldn't have a whole class talking away.

    Again, I'd expect text-to-speech to be used in relativly few cases, in which case you can more closly control the pupil's use of the hardware, and could probably afford better equipment, i.e. you'd have maybe half-a-dozen pupils in a school with a need for text-to-speech, and those could have decent headphones or maybe a directional speaker.

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    We're back into the technology improving again - shouldn't we be looking at the technology that's available now? The tablet thing just looks like a 'give all of the kids a shhiny new toy' rather than a carefully considered move. I still believe that if you're going to give all of the kids tablets, you'd be better off providing them with the ASUS T90 or something similar.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jamesb View Post
    people don't think when they're typing an e-mail normally.
    I can't argue with that, either :-)

    We're back into the technology improving again - shouldn't we be looking at the technology that's available now?
    A tablet PC capable of streaming audio from the device to a server for speech recognition processing (or podcasting, or whatever) is feasible (and available) right now, it's just that the field of speech recognition hasn't advanced as fast as everyone kind of assumed it would 30 years ago. That might change over the next couple of years as GPU processing architectures bring supercomputing-like capabilities to the desktop / server room, but I wouldn't count on it.

    The tablet thing just looks like a 'give all of the kids a shhiny new toy' rather than a carefully considered move.
    It would be a tablet PC designed for the (UK) education market, not a general end-consumer device to be used for absolutly anything. It might be an idea to limit the tablet to being only able to browse a school's VLE - if nothing else, that would allow you to limit the bandwidth used so you could then provide mobile broadband for some pupils.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    It would be a tablet PC designed for the (UK) education market, not a general end-consumer device to be used for absolutly anything. It might be an idea to limit the tablet to being only able to browse a school's VLE - if nothing else, that would allow you to limit the bandwidth used so you could then provide mobile broadband for some pupils.

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    I'm still liking the idea of an Android Slate being carried around by every pupil and instead of having any desktops or laptops anywhere in the school, have cheap usb keyboard/mice in most classrooms converting the slate into a mini desktops when needed. I'm sure for classes like music and art you can get appropriate software and usb attachments to make the system work?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tmcd35 View Post
    I'm still liking the idea of an Android Slate being carried around by every pupil and instead of having any desktops or laptops anywhere in the school, have cheap usb keyboard/mice in most classrooms converting the slate into a mini desktops when needed. I'm sure for classes like music and art you can get appropriate software and usb attachments to make the system work?
    OSes like Android, iOS and Windows Mobile are designed for consumer use, where the slate device is your own and you want to be able to customise it arrange it to how you want. The modern mobile OS is very much about how many apps the vendor can sell you to add functionality. For a school you want a bunch of identical devices with minimal management needs, easily interchangeable for repair purposes. Probably your best bet is a basic OS that skips having any kind of desktop and just loads a full-screen web browser on boot. Have it keep up-to-date with Flash player, Adobe Reader, Java and all the video and audio codecs you can think of and make it so schools can specify their own URL as the default. You might also want a video conferencing client like Skype. Nothing else, no need for any apps or other gubbins.

    I'd avoid cheap keyboards and midce in "most" classrooms and just keep them for where they are needed, probably just for touch-typing lessons. You might as well buy decent keyboards and mice then, too.

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    Replace DT and Engineering with Robot Wars

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    Quote Originally Posted by JJonas View Post
    Replace DT and Engineering with Robot Wars
    I'm joining your school - when do the gates open

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    Quote Originally Posted by tmcd35 View Post
    I'm joining your school - when do the gates open
    It the potential staff are this excited about it what are the students going to think.
    Last edited by JJonas; 28th October 2010 at 10:03 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JJonas View Post
    It the potential staff are this excited about it what are the students going to think.
    A robotics class, with a robot wars, or robot football, or robot olympics every year sounds like a brilliant idea to me. If you could get other schools involved as well it could be a big event.

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    Forget Robot Wars ... now THIS is something I quite fancy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    OSes like Android, iOS and Windows Mobile are designed for consumer use, where the slate device is your own and you want to be able to customise it arrange it to how you want. The modern mobile OS is very much about how many apps the vendor can sell you to add functionality. For a school you want a bunch of identical devices with minimal management needs, easily interchangeable for repair purposes. Probably your best bet is a basic OS that skips having any kind of desktop and just loads a full-screen web browser on boot. Have it keep up-to-date with Flash player, Adobe Reader, Java and all the video and audio codecs you can think of and make it so schools can specify their own URL as the default. You might also want a video conferencing client like Skype. Nothing else, no need for any apps or other gubbins.

    I'd avoid cheap keyboards and midce in "most" classrooms and just keep them for where they are needed, probably just for touch-typing lessons. You might as well buy decent keyboards and mice then, too.

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    devices like the ipad maybe designed for consumer market, but as we've seen with the iphone, this bottom up approach has had the result of permeating organisations, whereby IT in big companies see a consumer market product as a viable alternative to their top down designed-for-business or if we're talking education, designed-for-education device. it might be that it takes a while for the management apps to catch up, but they do to an acceptable or better than acceptable level eventually....

    with an ipad you can provide some level of minimalism, you might have to make adjustments becuase of the absence of flash, but that's where the app model becomes an advantage in providing a growing market of alternative apps, and a licensing model which suits education where licensing software for each individual tablet/handheld device within the school could end up being prohibitively expensive. Plus, if education is moving more toward personalised learning, it makes sense that should you choose to not go fully down the lockdown route with the type of client devices, that you have personal devices that do allow for customization beyond just a 'here's your full screen browser, customize you VLE page' approach.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    Forget Robot Wars ... now THIS is something I quite fancy.
    That's the handy thing about schools - the "I wish I had enough like-minded people to play this game with" issue becomes "Right, class, today we are...". I'm not quite sure a literal Star-Trek-like game would be all that useful / interesting, but some kind of collaberative exercise that properly utilised the large-screen display you find in the majority of school classrooms these days would be nice. Something designed for small groups of children, three or four maybe, who use a workstation between them to update a central display.

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    I've always envisaged one of these free schools to move away completely from the standard "School structure" and move towards a real world, business structure with an education focus.

    Run the school, AS a business, and tie it into the community as a conglomerate support company, providing all sorts of services and solutions.
    The head would in fact be the managing director, with a board of directors being the teaching staff.

    Your departments would be comprised of the student body, with your traditional subjects broken into the departments. Marketing department would be exactly that, and the basics of presentation, geography, business studies, History could be covered.
    Accounting and HR covers Mathematics and sociology, Administration covers communication (english, ICT), You then have the services covering ICT, building maintenance, and so on and so forth.

    The work would mostly be project based, lead by the department head (aka the teacher) who would steer the project, and provide support along the way.

    It is a massive step away from the way education is now, but the key factor is a massive grounding in students taking responsibility for their own actions, having to think for themselves to achieve their goal, and being used to a standard operating practice that is used in most real life businesses.

    Wheither it would work would be the challenge, and one heck of a challenge for the MD!

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    @Rydra ... as much as some folk might want to set up free schools like that, there is a need to set up schools as they were 70 years ago, where people learnt their times table by rote, where the teacher was the fount of all knowledge and you absorbed it from them ...

    And there are those places which want to re-open the small local school which the council closed because it cost too much to run for too few children, so the community will get a school running again because *everyone* in teh village wants their kids to go their.

    There are lots of presumptions about what free schools will mean, but one thing is for certain, the DfE has very little idea whether they will work or not, or even how much they will cost. There are a raft of concerns about the people involved (and the lack of procurement / tender for them to do the work when at least 2 existing organisations could do it) and we have to accept that a number of the decisions being made about the program are political.

    Saying that, it could open things up for a wealth of opportunities ... and I look forward to the good stuff which can come out of it, but would like to see how the Govt will step in if it goes wrong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JJonas View Post
    Replace DT and Engineering with Robot Wars
    Excellent :-)
    The History department should also be run by The Sealed Knot



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