Re: [xmca] wikis, textbooks, developing countries, impoverished US schools

From: Tony Whitson (twhitson@UDel.Edu)
Date: Sat Sep 16 2006 - 17:05:56 PDT


Carol,
Yes, these surely are problems.
There are some people making an effort: for example, the $100 computer
that does not require an electricity source (there's a hand crack to
charge a battery). See:
http://www.newscientisttech.com/article/dn8338

I have a Canadian friend who developed a program for retooling discarded
old-version computers to run on Linux, so the whole package would be much
less expensive. He was meeting with a VP of an African country about them
using it. I'm told that Micro$oft swooped in and preempted that with some
sweet deal for the government.

I think our public schools systems should make a social choice to
standardize on Linux and JUST SAY NO to the never-ending path of continual
obsolesence and upgrading on Micro$soft systems. If we did that, we could
do everything that we need to do for educational purposes on much less
expensive systems, and the developing of such a market would create a
demand for reasonable systems economically available to other populations
as well, outside of schools.

BTW, the $100-laptop program makes its machines available to geographic
areas that commit to 100% distribution to the school children of that
area.

On Wed, 13 Sep 2006, Carol Macdonald wrote:

> Hi Tony:
> I find you argument interesting to read. However, I would like to put you
> in the picture in our rural Black schools. They don't have any access to
> computers (there may be no electricity) and they are unlikely to receive
> textbooks--or sometimes near the end of the school year. So, they can't
> even access wiki. Of course the better school in the suburbs have
> electricity and computers, and so it's the case of the rich getting
> richer... In the Grade 12 exams all the students have to show competence on
> using Work as well as Excell, and this is manifestly unfair to those
> students who have never seen a computer. Universities tend to ignore these
> marks, as well they might.
> Carol
>
> On 9/12/06, Tony Whitson <twhitson@udel.edu> wrote:
>>
>> I see that I should have done a better job with the SUBJECT line of that
>> post. It's about inequality and opportunity, not just about media and
>> technology.
>>
>> On Tue, 12 Sep 2006, Tony Whitson wrote:
>>
>> > See
>>
>> http://tonywhitson.edublogs.org/2006/09/12/wikis-textbooks/
>>
>> > for links
>> >
>> > An article in Teachers College Press reports on the lack of adequate
>> > textbooks in California's public schools especially in financially
>> less
>> > well-off communities. The authors have been sharply critical of
>> high-stakes
>> > consequences being imposed by NCLB on students in schools without the
>> > resources needed for an education that measures up to the state's
>> standards.
>> >
>> > Meanwhile, NewScientist online reports that 'Students in developing
>> countries
>> > are to get free textbooks written using "wiki" technology that lets
>> anyone
>> > add to or edit an online document.'
>> >
>> > This suggests two possibilities:
>> >
>> > 1. Maybe California students would be better off ; and
>> >
>> > 2. Maybe all students would be better off if they could use wiki-style
>> > textbooks developed by, say, scientists and science teachers, or
>> historians
>> > and history teachers, instead of the textbooks being marketed by
>> commercial
>> > publishers. There are people who would be terrified by this prospect;
>> there
>> > are also legitimate concerns.
>> >
>> > What do you think?
>> >
>> > Tony Whitson
>> > UD School of Education
>> > NEWARK DE 19716
>> >
>> > twhitson@udel.edu
>> > _______________________________
>> >
>> > "those who fail to reread
>> > are obliged to read the same story everywhere"
>> > -- Roland Barthes, S/Z (1970)
>>
>> Tony Whitson
>> UD School of Education
>> NEWARK DE 19716
>>
>> twhitson@udel.edu
>> _______________________________
>>
>> "those who fail to reread
>> are obliged to read the same story everywhere"
>> -- Roland Barthes, S/Z (1970)
>>
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>>
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Tony Whitson
UD School of Education
NEWARK DE 19716

twhitson@udel.edu
_______________________________

"those who fail to reread
  are obliged to read the same story everywhere"
                   -- Roland Barthes, S/Z (1970)

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