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Re: [school-discuss] student:computer - studies to reference?

These are interesting responses which indicate that I need to clarify
what/why I'm asking.

Of course we're not focusing only on hardware, or only on
a computer:student ratio. The district has already conducted teacher
surveys (concerning prof. dev., amount of usage, hardware, software,
gadgets, etc.) at some schools and several more are currently
following suit.

The planning committee has some idea of where we want to go, and since
at the moment only labs have computers for students (no classrooms
that I know of in the entire district have computers for students to
use!), it's obvious that having more computers for kids to use is one
thing that we need to change.

We can't change the entire district at once, and we don't want to take
off at 100MPH in a direction that turns out to be wrong. So we're
hoping to propose a pilot project to the school board, and we could
really use data from other schools and studies that have been done to
bolster our claims that such a pilot project has the potential to
improve the lives of teachers and the educations of students. Instead
of adding one computer to every classroom in the district and assuming
we're headed in the right direction, we want to know how many *Linux
thin clients* to add to a small handful of classrooms as a pilot to
find out what kind of difference it makes in those classrooms. 1:1 is
not an option on the table at this time, so we need to know where we
should be aiming -- /if there is a specific place to aim/.

At this point in the meeting, I indicated that I believed other people
had already studied this issue and that we could make use of those
results. I was asked to find such data and report back.

Therefore, I sent a very specific question to three widely-dispersed
lists without explaining *any* of my background assumptions and giving
the impression that I was blindly sprinting into hardware-centric
confusion in which obtaining a particular ratio will be expected to
yield precisely-defined results. Hopefully this message rectifies that
concern at least a little. :)

I should mention that I'm already planning to recommend that we do
a survey (another one, unfortunately) to ask teachers how many
computers they would need to make a difference. My wife (a teacher,
also on this committee) and I, along with the other members of this
committee, are very concerned to know what teachers think and we value
their input highly. Unfortunately, we can't take it as a given that
everyone has that same degree of respect for teachers' opinions, so we
want/need more than just teachers' input, and I was hopeful that some
more formal investigations had been conducted.

Thanks for your input, Yishay, and I will contact you separately for
more information.


Yishay Mor wrote:    [Sun Oct 08 2006, 06:06:36PM EDT]
> Matt,
> I want to strongly support Les here. In focusing on hardware you risk a
> backlash. We've all heard of endless research that 'proves' that computers
> don't contribute to performance. I reject it, and yet it's right: computers in
> themselves are heaps of metal. They don't contribute to performance any more
> that the tables they stand on. A study of the sort you imagine would most
> probably be outrageous. Any result showing improvement in standard test in 
> direct relationship to the ratio, and ignoring all other factors, would only be
> obtainable by exotic manipulations.
> I think its important to involve the teachers in the process, let them say how
> many computers they want, and where. Perhaps present them with case studies,
> and collaboratively design a solution which includes hardware, software and
> practices. Here's an idea: if 1:1 is the golden grail, why not give each
> student a wifi enabled PDA, and have one PC+projector for sharing? See: http://
> www.simcalc.umassd.edu/projects/cc2/
> All that said, you may find some useful resources here:
> http://www.g1to1.org/inventory/bibliography.php
> Also, I remember once seeing a serious article which used sophisticated
> econometric methods to eliminate all other factors, and showed that generally
> children with access to PCs perform better in school. I can try to look it up
> if you want (contact me directly).
> good luck!
> - Yishay
> On 08/10/06, Matt Oquist <moquist@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>     Note: I'm also posting to k12osn and k12opensource; sorry for any
>     duplication.
>     I'm on the newly-formed school tech planning committee in my
>     community, and at the second committee meeting I discussed the idea
>     that there's a tipping-point at which access to technology naturally
>     snowballs into increasing technology integration. (There's a bit of
>     the "if you build it they will come" thinking in here.) I asserted
>     that I believed studies had been done on such data points as the range
>     of student:computer ratios that define such a tipping-point.
>     The committee chairman (a school board member) insightfully asked if
>     I could find out about such studies and report back at our next
>     meeting -- so now I'm asking all of you. I've done some googling and
>     I'll do some more, but what studies (formal and informal, but I'm
>     looking for more than just opinions) do you know of that communicate
>     concrete results such as (NOTE: I'M MAKING THIS UP as an EXAMPLE!):
>       "Moving from a 10:1 student:computer ratio to a 2:1 ratio is 75%
>       more likely to result in a 20% increase in math standardized test
>       scores than moving instead to a 5:1 ratio."
>     A study with results like that would be outstanding, of course, but
>     I'll be pleasantly shocked to find one. What has actually been done?
>     What more do we have than anecdotal evidence of the sort of
>     tipping-point that I described?
>     I'm pretty sure I snagged the phrase "tipping point" from one of the
>     slides in Daniel Howard's presentation to the CIO of Atlanta Public
>     Schools on their case study at Morris Brandon Elementary School.
>     Here's what he said:
>       Tipping point: must have at least 5 PCs for teachers to fully
>       integrate into instruction, more is better for most teachers
>     I'll follow up with Daniel to find out how many students those
>     5 (LTSP) PCs are covering...but what have the rest of you experienced
>     in your own schools?
>     With 1:1 as the assumed goal, what ratio will give us the best
>     bang-for-the-buck along the way?
>     --matt
>     --
>     Open Source Software Engineering Consultant
>     http://majen.net/
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> --
> ___________________________
>   Yishay Mor, Researcher, London Knowledge Lab
>    http://www.lkl.ac.uk/people/mor.html
>    http://yishaym.wordpress.com
>    https://www.linkedin.com/in/yishaymor
>    +44-20-78378888 x5737
Open Source Software Engineering Consultant

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