All entries for Wednesday 26 July 2006

July 26, 2006

Wireless PCs motivate students, says wireless PC maker

Writing about web page

My title is perhaps overly cynical.

About 23,000 students and 1,500 teachers in 100 Michigan school districts are participating in the program. Students get their own wireless HP notebook PCs and are allowed to learn at their own pace. Teachers, meanwhile, receive comprehensive training and curriculum guidance through a centralized learning portal. The report is backed by HP.

But if these notebooks are effectively free at the point of use for the students, and the teachers get a rich, well–supported infrastructure to help them, then it's hardly surprising that the participants regard the program as beneficial. What would be more interesting is to know whether the benefits are worth the costs of providing the program or whether the same sum spent on other activities (books? laboratories? more teachers?) would have produced equivalent or greater benefits.

University download services 'not popular'

Writing about web page

This article in the Chronicle notes that universities which had offered their students legal paid–for music download services have not had great take–up, and in at least two cases – Cornell and Purdue – have decided to abandon the service. The problem seems to be at least in part that subscription services which lapse when you leave university are innately unappealing, which I completely understand.

Warwick briefly considered whether this was something we wanted to pursue; I'm glad we didn't (and although it's easy to say so now, I didn't think it would have been a good idea at the time, either).

In more positive news about digital music, though, Radford University in the US intends to require iPods for its music students, logically enough, so that they can listen to music. They plan to build a kind of distribution hub for their students containing the set works for the course. Funny how this is the first time the primary purpose of the iPod has been mentioned as the rationale for using it in education.

Famous logos, web 2.0 style

Writing about web page

Web 2.0. It's all about participation, about the web as a platform, about harnessing collective intelligence, right? Wrong. It's about looking as though you're web 2.0. And that means pastel colours, gradient fills, curves, reflections and shiny corners. So what better way to pay tribute to this magnificent trend than to redo the logos of famous companies in finest web 2.0 style. Here's one to give you the idea; there are dozens more if you choose to click.

Click for so very many more

Fees, debt and spending

I get a daily email from the BBC which includes their education stories of the moment. Over the last week or so, there have been three stories which individually caught my eye:–

None of these stories is especially startling in their own right; under–estimating future debt is a widespread problem, not just a student one. Large swathes of the population own more gadgets than they used to, at least in part because there just are more gadgets than there used to be, and they're cheaper than they used to be. And it would be odd if fear of future debt didn't deter at least some people from applying to university. But it's interesting that there have been three stories in just over a week about higher education on the BBC news site, and they're all, in one way or another, about cost. Is this going to be the dominant topic for the foreseeable future?

One other oddity about the reporting; the story about under–estimating debt has been on the BBC web site before:–

Slow news day?

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