Monday, January 7, 2013

More CMS schools to get BYOT

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is about to clear the way for students and teachers at 33 more schools to start using their own tablets,  phones and other digital devices at school.

In October the district picked 21 schools to pilot the Bring Your Own Technology program. This week CMS will notify 33 more that their buildings now have the wifi capability to allow widespread use of personal devices, Chief Information Officer Valerie Truesdale said. She said the list will be posted soon after schools get the word.

The goal is to have all schools ready for BYOT by the start of school next year,  a year later than originally announced.  Truesdale said the holdup is installing enough routers to provide good coverage,  which will take more money than CMS currently has budgeted.

CMS has also launched a Transforming Digital Teaching and Learning web page,  designed to help educators share what they're learning.  Anyone can click in,  and it may be a good resource for parents trying to keep up with the fast-changing world of cyberschool.

Speaking of sharing ideas:  Trish Cloud,  technology instructor at Torrence Creek Elementary,  introduced me to the concept of augmented reality while she was talking to me about using video games in education. While the more familiar virtual reality uses only computer-generated experiences,  augmented reality combines those images with real-world views seen through the screen of a digital device.  To illustrate,  Cloud used NASA's Spacecraft 3D app to make a small-scale Curiosity rover pop up on a desk in her computer lab (see a video demonstration here).

Of course,  a quick Google search made it clear this concept may be new to me,  but it's not really new.  But if you're like me and just getting up to speed,  here's another video on how augmented reality might be used in classrooms.  Meanwhile,  I'm going to search the Apple store for an AR app to impress my friends.


Anonymous said...

This is NOT good news for CMS families. More technology devices in the hands of elem students is a terrible idea. And I'm a teacher! Most kids have enough screen time. This is being used as a behavior management system, used to fill any "dead" time during the school day (kids grab their devices to play games when done with an activity). I love technology and it has its place on a limited basis in the classroom when it fits into a lesson plan. It should not be used as a substitute for a teacher, teaching and it should not be assumed that this is improving a students learning. Getting the CMS parents to foot the bill for this and buy their young children expensive tech gadgets is a shame.

Anonymous said...

I wish my south charlotte BYOT elem school would actually use technology to update their school website and that teachers had updated websites that stated curriculum, schedules, homework and access to on line textbooks and resources. Our elem school can't even handle doing that, yet we're a BYOT school in the news. BTW, The students are having a blast playing games and videotaping/photographing eachother in class. What a joke.

Shamash said...

Just keep in mind that today's technology is tomorrow trash.

I was once put in an English class using the latest technology (the "dictaphone", anyone remember those?) with the goal of unleashing enormous amounts of creativity being stifled by the use of the written (rather than "oral") word.

Didn't matter.

The smart kids were still smart, the less smart, still less smart.

Don't be fooled into thinking that technology can substitute for teaching.

Sure there are some useful tools out there but there is a lot of junk, too.

My kids have had access to technology since birth.

My 8 yo has a Kindle Fire HD and has used computers since he was taking a bottle. We have photos of him drinking his bottle and using a mouse at the same time.

Left to his own devices, though, he would use technology to watch Pokemon cartoons all day long.

However, there is device management software out there to control usage.

If a parent puts that on the device then how will CMS teach around that?

It sounds to me like there will need to be a lot more coordination between schools and homes with the technology than is currently done without the technology.

I would rather send my child to school to be taught the old-fashioned way and save the techno-candy for home where I can monitor its use and use it to reward other behavior (like homework).

Anonymous said...

Hey, look at the bright side. Teachers will no longer have to teach and parents will no longer have to parent. The tech devices are being used as electronic pacifiers.

Anonymous said...

BYOT "Bring Your Own Technology", or "Bring Your Own Teacher"?

Is it just me or does it seem like the babysitter aspect of our nationally renowned CMS public school system is now being delegated to electronic "smart" devices.

Many others have touched on the very dark, downsides of unsupervised technology in our elementary school classrooms.

First we were told that SmartBoards were needed in every classroom. Now we are being told that we need iPhones, iPads, tablets, smartphones, etc. for each and every child.

What's next CMS???

Anonymous said...

seriously thinking about pulling my kids out of CMS. Lack of common sense has failed this school system.

Anonymous said...


Now my daughter's classmates are bringing "their own" iPhones into her elementary classroom, and as someone else mentioned they play games and watch videos on their phones in class.

We don't even have an iPhone, and my husband and I would much prefer for my child to avoid becoming another electronic zombie.

Anonymous said...

AGREE! This is being done at the expense of actual teaching. This policy of actively encouraging students to bring in random, expensive devices of technology from home is ludicrous and irresponsible of CMS. Rather than being more engaged, students will hurry up with their math worksheet so they can play videogames. Good teachers will struggle with keeping students on task with real learning and bad teachers will use it as an excuse and check out.

Anonymous said...

who approved doing this in our schools? The BOE?

Missouri said...

Ha, ha, ha! Go read the NY Times article about the digital divide. They interview a black urban boy who got the digital advantage in his home like LIFT is proposing who readily admits he stays up till 2 or 3 in the mornings doing games, facebook, etc. and is too tired to participate in class during the day.

Anonymous said...

The problem that I have with this is now the students have unlimited access to technology, in other words video games. There is a place for technology used occasionally and responsibly in the classroom. I do not think this is it. Will the students no longer go to the specials Technology class because it is redundant and unnecessary now?

Anonymous said...

Seven stupid mistakes teachers make with technology

3. Not supervising computer-using students. It is really stupid to believe Internet filters will keep kids out of trouble on the Internet. For so many reasons. Even the slow kids who can't get around the school's filter, can still exploit that 10% of porn sites the filter won't catch if they choose to do so. They can still send cyber bullying e-mail - maybe even using your email address. Or they can just plain waste time.

Anonymous said...

Ann, I remember that you did a piece on BYO technology being used at Providence Day, but I believe that was for high school, maybe middle school. Are the local private schools jumping into this as quickly and as deeply as CMS?

Anonymous said...

Fortunately my 2 high schoolers go to a local private school. They are allowed to use laptops and school supplied netbooks only under the supervision and direction of the teacher for a specific reason in class. I do not blame CMS parents' concern about this. Why would they allow this at the elementary school level? Just reinforces our decision to take our 2 kids out of CMS. Thank you very much.

Shamash said...

We're trying the Kindle Freetime app to control unlimited access to junk on our kids Kindle Fire.

We'll see how that goes. I don't think he is old enough or tech savvy enough to hack around that, but we'll see.

Yeah, I think the problem with unleashing all these tech toys on the "ghetto" kids is that their parents WILL NOT control their use.

But I can imagine that once this camel's nose is under the tent, it won't be long before the poverty pimps are screaming for free iPads for their "disadvantaged" youth.

Jeff Wise said...

Jeepers people, judging from the comments here, one would think that technology is akin to becoming a witch! No, we can't have tech in our classrooms, it'll distract students, it'll create disruptions, they'll watch videos all day long.

Look the sky, it's falling!

There will of course be some issues with BYOT, but this is after all the 21st century and we can use technology to reach more students and keep more students engaged in the learning process.

You all seem to want students to be taught the same exact way you were taught, but yet you also complain that our students are too far behind and we have to reform. Ironic, no?

Well placed and properly used technology will foster more student growth and have the ability to bring more underachieving students up to par and beyond.

This ship is sailing, figure out how to proactively get on board and make it work as best as it can.

Jeff Wise said...


I sure hope in a few years my kindergartener will try to hack around any firewalls I put up - it means he's engaged, it means he's being creative.

Sure we'll have to keep an eye on him, but that's part of being a parent.

Shamash said...


Thanks for the article.

The ignorance of some of the parents in it is startling.

Here's my takeaway quote:

But “access is not a panacea,” said Danah Boyd, a senior researcher at Microsoft. “Not only does it not solve problems, it mirrors and magnifies existing problems we’ve been ignoring.”

Yeah, people just don't "get it".

The "problem" is not technology it's the home, parenting, culture, and values.

Sure. Give a ghetto kid some tech toys and he plays until the wee hours of the night neglecting his school work.

That's EXACTLY what I would expect.

Funny, though, how all the "experts" are puzzled by this outcome.

Simply put, the "experts" are brainwashed fools.

But I don't labor under the illusion that we are ALL "equal" or any such nonsense.

There's a reason people rise and fall in any and every society.

Access to technology will not make everyone successful.

In some ways, this reminds me of a book from the 1980 about TV & culture called "Amusing Ourselves to Death" which is probably just as relevant today.

Anonymous said...

12:02 I don't read any comments here that suggest technology is evil or that we should go back to using an abacus. I just hear a lot of concerned parents legitimately questioning a new CMS policy. I'm wondering who is going to pay for all the i-phones and I-pads CMS wants our kids using. It appears that they have rolled out this BYOT program in the burbs where parents can afford all the shiny tech gadgets. CMS is sneaky like that.

Shamash said...

Jeff Wise,

I'm sure my kid will be one of the hackers. He's shown signs of that since being in diapers.

However, it doesn't mean I will just let him do what he wants.

We gave him a chance with the Kindle. About two weeks and all he did was play Pokemon videos.

Well, the holiday is over now, so we've "re-purposed" the Kindle for education.

When he hacks around this, I'll find another way, much like those parents in China who hired online "assassins" to take out their kids avatar when he played video games too much.

http://www. huffingtonpost .com/2013/01/03/chinese-dad-hires-in-game-assassins-to-discourage-son-gaming-habit_n_2404111.html

Too bad, so sad,

Your Dad.

Anonymous said...

Charlotte Catholic High provided MAC notebooks to all students this year. I believe the goal is to eventually phase out traditional textbooks. Traditional history books are dated the minute they leave the assembly line. Math, art, reading, other subjects?

I have mixed feelings about BYOT.

Shamash said...

Anon 12:16.

I'm definitely not a Luddite.

I've worked in computer technology long before it was cool.

My MBA was with a concentration in information management, so I'm no dope with a computer, either.

Kids were playing "adventure" and "life" games on computers when the best "video" you could get was a dot-matrix printout.

The problem is that technology generally looks "smart" to people who don't really understand it.

And not every kid who plays a video game will absorb all the complex physics and math that goes into creating that game.

Some parents really do not understand if their kid is doing anything useful with their tech toy or not.

Some think that if they don't understand it, then their kid must be smart.

Way too many kids have fooled their parents into thinking they were techno-whizzes when all they are is goof-offs.

But, hey, don't knock the abacus.

It is something I hope my kid uses. Maybe even a slide rule, too.

And he even watches educational videos and uses educational software as well.

Just not as much Pokemon as he would like.

Jeff Wise said...

12:16p - BYOT has gone to a cross section of CMS schools. The pilot was an application process. This isn't a new policy either and it has been decently detailed in terms of expectations. The pilot has had almost a semester of use and now it's being expanded.

CMS appears to be trying to get as much tech into schools as it can using their own resources and the community's resources. I don't imagine CMS will ever purchase iDevices for every student, it would be impractical. Leveraging what many families may already have is a decent way to keep pushing forward.

I don't think anyone is saying that students should be using tech every minute of every day they're in school but it's not going away. Middle class and higher careers in this century will revolve around understanding tech.

Something like 40% of the careers that elementary students will end up in do not even exist yet. Students need exposure to a variety of devices, coding, content creation and so on if they want a hint of a chance to be successful in the marketplace.

If anything, CMS is a few years late getting more tech into schools.

Missouri said...

Jeff, the issue is the students today are not being taught like we were. The teachers have much less time for instruction. The teachers can not discipline students. Many of the parents of the disinterested students are just as disinterested. Students have easily found out the teachers have no authority and never have the final word on any issue in the classroom. And I can go on and on.

Clearly, there is a place for use of technology in today's public education but CMS seems to have opened the barn door and let anything go. This leaves the teachers again in a horrible situation like CMS is prone to do. I am actually surprised CMS teachers have not been the targets of more lawsuits over assaults, bullying, lack of discipline, etc.

Ann Doss Helms said...

11:42, I don't know -- since there's no "central office" for private schools I'd have to call them one at a time and ask. Anyone with private-school connections know how this is playing out at the school(s) you're familiar with?

Shamash said...


As someone who has been in "tech" for over 30 years now, I would like to caution you in one area.

Do not even begin to think that people today have ANY clue how people 15 or 20 years from now will be working.

I often use the example of how the well-meaning administrators introduced the "high-tech" tool called a "dictaphone" into our classroom because according to their beliefs, the office of the future would not need anyone who could read, write, or type (at least not above the clerical level).

And look how dead-wrong they were about that (this was the mid 1970's...)

I think it is just as likely that the particular "skills" gained from the technology today (beyond the knowledge content of the particular subjects they study) will be just as obsolete as that technology in the future.

At the same time my school was experimenting in the "dictaphone" a friend of mine at a local technical school was learning how to use a linotype machine because that was a "high-paying" job back in the 1970's.

Now, the only place you can find a linotype machine and a dictaphone of the type we used is in a museum.

The same will be true of these i-devices, too.

We have no idea what the technology of 15 years from now will be like.

Technology doesn't move in straight lines or necessarily continuous curves.

"Coding" as we know it today may even become obsolete or be considered a low-level skill.

It's already almost unnecessary in using computers today.

Remember, that at one time, the the telephone switchboard operator was one of the fastest growing jobs in the nation.

Anonymous said...

As the famous philosopher Forrest Gump stated " stupid is as stupid does". Most of these kids are just excited to be playing mindless video games and nothing more than that. Wake up parents!

Anonymous said...

At age 49.698743029 and holding, today's technology is intimidating at best.

I'm currently enrolled in a post-bac. program for K-6 elementary teacher licensure. There does appear to be a difference between "veteran" teachers and "newbie" teachers in terms of embracing and using the latest technology in the classroom. I haven't taken Teaching Methodology yet but I imagine it's going to be radically different than the same course offered 20 -30 years ago. The thing is, I have mixed feelings about the use of technology in the classroom because I haven't been convinced that all the fancy Smart Boards and latest gadgets teach fundamental skills any better than teaching them the old-fashioned way. I had to take a timed Praxis math exam in order to continue into the upper level courses because my SAT scores from 1981 weren't valid - which is the last time I took a standardized math exam. Talk about scary. Holy moly! The thing is, I passed because multiplying mixed fractions, converting decimals into percentages and changing numbers into scientific notation doesn't require knowing how to Twitter. Who knew?

My professors who fumble around presenting material using technology aren't any less capable of teaching their subject matter in depth than those who whiz through material using the latest high-tech. marvel. In fact, I think a lot of material produced by monopoly companies like Pearson's Books is shallow, mind numbing, and downright useless. Every course now comes with an on-line/CD component (rendering used books useless for the sake of profit which is another matter). I'd be interesting in seeing some hard research data on the subject of technology in the classroom. What works, what doesn't? You can't convince me it's all wonderful. Technology in the classroom is here to stay. This being said, I find it hard to believe that technology, in and of itself, makes students smarter or teachers more effective. Technology is a tool - not a substitute for real teaching and real learning.

Alicia Durand

Anonymous said...

can parents opt out of this? I don't want my rising Kindergartner to be using this type of technology in the class next year.

Jeff Wise said...


I'm not really going to disagree with your comments, but to a degree I think they are separate from the BYOT topic.

Tech has the ability to reach disinterested students - certainly not every one of them, but a decent amount. If using tech in this fashion can reach even 1% of students that's nearly 1500 students who would be otherwise disengaged.

Personally, I think it can go even further than that. If schools can figure out how to best engage students before 3rd grade - and keep them engaged, whether that's utilizing tech, alternative settings, etc. - then I believe we'd have many more students graduating with useful degrees.

There should be tech academies, somewhat modeled like Berry Academy, but more along the lines of start-ups. Let the students get involved in creating tools and apps and do something with their class time instead of regurgitating facts by filling in bubbles on tests.

We should see stories every month about groups of students who made $X on this app, or took an Android tablet and made it useful for medical patient monitoring, and so on.

We are stuck in this mindset that every student must go through the same curriculum and experience K-5 and even 6-8 when we know beyond a doubt that all students learn differently - so why not do whatever we can to reach them in as many ways as possible?

Sorry, a bit off topic there, but this technology piece will become more important by the day in reaching disinterested students.

Jeff Wise said...


My dad worked on the U of Illinois' version of ENIAC in college. He started his own data processing business about the time I was born. I grew up with a terminal and modem in the corner of the living room.

I run the IT department for a large architecture firm, a job that didn't exist when I was in high school, let alone back to elementary school.

You are right that few people know where tech will go in the next 10-15 years, but we can definitely say that tech will continue to be a growing force in the job market.

Understanding coding is not so much about understanding how to structure a SQL query to run a report, but about understanding logic. It's like leaning how a car works. You may never replace the bushings in the crank case, but you know how that works and how it affects the car's operation.

My point in all this is there is - and never will be - a single correct path for teaching and utilizing technology. We can sit back and study and wait for years trying to find the best path forward and it'll still be somewhat wrong.

I'd rather we get our students away from rote learning and more into creation and doing so that whenever tech does change they'll be able to pivot with it and keep moving forward.

Missoouri said...

Alicia, a quote free for the using.

Just because you have a hammer, does not mean everything is a nail.

Anonymous said...

Ann, I am not aware of any other private elementary schools that allow students to bring in techno devices from home on a daily basis. It cannot be managed by the staff, and would probably not be supported by most parents.

In a recent journal article, a study notes that "it should be noted, however, playing video games is linked to childhood distractability, over arousal, hostility and aggression" And our school system supports the use of video games in the classroom. What am i missing?

Shamash said...


I'm definitely not opposed to technology in the classroom.

But I think it needs to be done in a sensible way with sensible expectations.

Not every kid who uses an iPad will turn into a sofware engineer or a physicist from playing Angry Birds.

Maybe one or two will, but not the majority.

Technology will not revolutionize anything by itself.

It is simply a tool to be used for the moment, usually to create the next level of technology by making some of the more onerous tasks a little easier.

In the hands of older students it may be more useful, though, because they have a background of knowledge which can be leveraged through computer use.

We used laptops in my MBA program.

It would have been a real drag to work out everything by hand that we were able to do with computers.

I'm not sure a 2nd or 3rd grader, though, needs that kind of assistance.

They probably DO need to work a lot out with their hands and step by step.

Anonymous said...

Answering Ann's question about private schools, my daughter is at PD, and in high school, yes, she can bring her own laptop and tablet in (and has been doing so for 3 years). For lower and middle school, I'm not sure about the BYOT policies, but they're piloting iPads in lower school classes. It's actually pretty impressive to see how the teachers have incorporated them at that level.

On the BYOT side (for HS), it's cut down on how much weight kids need to have in their backpacks, since they can get a decent number of the textbooks are available in ebook format. My daughter also uses her iPad to take all class notes, and is far more efficient taking notes that way than with a paper/pad. She can take notes in different OneNote notebooks and have them available on any device anywhere with internet access (including her phone, if need be). No more forgetting a notebook at school or at home.

To be honest, I've been pretty happy with the BYOT program there (and how the school utilizes technology overall), but private schools have a better ability to manage programs like that than a district the size of CMS does (imo, of course), so I completely understand the reaction by some parents here.

Shamash said...


We may have some similar backgrounds.

I was a system admin for an engineering firm for around 15 years until the mid 1990's, mostly supporting CADD systems.

I saw a lot of changes during that time, including the introduction of the WWW into businesses.

At that time, people were saying the WWW was a solution in search of a problem.

Even when we demonstrated how it could be used to organize and manage CADD drawings and help integrate a lot of our engineering paperwork/data issues.

I'm sure that has been well-accepted by now, some 15 years later, and is probably old hat.

I started programming on a computer which had REAL magnetic core. 16K of memory.

The skills at that time were wildly different from the ones needed today where 8gig of memory is pretty standard for handheld devices.

I learned to program on some rusty stuff by today's standards, but my degree was in mathematics.

At that time (1970's), SQL did not exist.

Relational databases did not exist.

However, set theory (which I studied) did exist.

Set theory and number theory were the bases for a lot of computer technology which later developed.

I was able to jump into relational databases faster than most people because I had the math background to understand it back when it was still being developed.

The actual technology I learned in the 1970's is in the dustbin (I'll bet you've never even seen a line of code in APL..., or a real magnetic core donut)

The MATH I learned in the 1970's is still useful today.

Given my experiences, the math was still more useful than the computer classes.

I even learned logic in math class.

Without using a computer.

Anonymous said...

Interesting topic. How does CMS control what has already been loaded onto a student's personal device that he brings into the classroom from home?

Anonymous said...

If this BYOT initiative helps the children learn, then great!

Sadly, this also creates a situation where the children without technology devices feel embarrassed by this each day.

So, apparently CMS will now become party to peer pressure and possibly bullying in the schools.

Shamash said...

Anon 2:24.

Don't worry.

Studies will be made.

Deficiencies will be noted.

And all "gaps" will be closed.

For equity's sake.

As usual...

Anonymous said...

What's the deal with Angry Birds? I've seen it mentioned before.

Trust me, the CMS BOE won't allow any child to be bullied because they don't have the latest I-something. It's all about "the children". The money will miraculously come out of thin air from somewhere.

Weren't elementary school children at all ProjectLIFT schools given personal laptops this year? I could be wrong about this.


Missouri said...

This technology based learning movement (guess who the real winner is of this in the end?) is at great odds with research that shows childhood brain development is most stimulated by hand manipulatives such as use of crayons, pencils, etc. where the motion of the hand constructing the letter, the word, etc. does the most for the child. Bottom line, guess which households have the fewest, the least opportunity for this. Much like a study identified in Dr. Canada's book actually done in NC is that the reason poor children have less developed language skills is because their households do not engage in such reinforcing behavior with the child.

So bottom line, 6 months to 3 years or so of age is the most critical time second behind neo-natal care for a child''s brain development. Sadly, our social services network is so geared toward finding all the monetary assistance it can for the recipient that it ignores the most crucial time periods to break the cycle of poverty. And thus, the cycle just continues on.

Anonymous said...

I work in HR. Overall younger applicants are getting worse in the interview process due to poor intrapersonal skills, communication skills, inability to effectively write and properly spell. Although they do not have as much experience, the "high tech" generation has many deficiencies due to, and in spite of their dependence on technology.

I rarely see any writing projects, journals or stories coming home from my elementary aged children. Does anyone teach grammar or writing/spelling anymore or are we just teaching our children to google information, then cut and paste?

Anonymous said...

The "One Laptop Per Child" initiative. I remember watching this on 60 Minutes. The goal was to provide little lime-green laptops to all the children of the world in an effort to eradicate poverty and promote world peace.

Hey, I like visionaries so I'm not going to knock this project. I'm just not convinced that having a Twitter account and free access to on-line porn is the best way to get there.


Anonymous said...

Thank you.

My best English teacher (7th grade) wasn't armed with the capacity to set off a nuclear missile. All she had was a big red pen. Some days were brutal. No rubrics either.


Anonymous said...

There is a fantastic English (Language Arts) teacher at NWSA. She uses a big red pen too. I saw the carnage on one Senior Exit Project. It wasn't pretty.

She knows who she is.


Ann Doss Helms said...

Thanks, 1:58 -- that's interesting.

Alicia, is that your question about Angry Birds? It's a very trendy (maybe passe by now) time-killer. If you have any kind of smartphone I'm sure you can download a free version and fling some birds at pigs.

Anonymous said...

I'm on my way out for my first class of the semester. I want to leave ya'll with something to ponder...

Regarding the promises of the latest and greatest technology:

In 1962, Garinger High School was featured in National Geographic as a state-of-the-art example of modern architecture which represented all that was possible during the age of space exploration and booming technology. I was born in 1962 and remember a man landing on the moon.

By 2006, Garinger High School found itself threatened with closure by the State of North Carolina for poor academic performance. I took my Praxis exams here.


Anonymous said...

In response to numerous postings. None of the students under the 4th grade get to participate in the BYOT project unless your in a LIFT zone school. Then they give you a iPad or laptop to watch spongebob on. In the other schools they dont evne know what type of technology they want the kids to have so its just goggle searchs for now. Some much news so much effort so little benefit. Thank you Scott Murri I hope Atlanta enjoys your great services !

Anonymous said...

to 3:51 Yes, 3rd grade is part of the current,initial roll out of the BYOT initiative. CMS hopes to include K-2 for the upcoming school year. Parents should be concerned and upset by this.

Jeff Wise said...

A couple of points.

I'm definitely a tech fan, but I agree with some others that it does not replace everything. Students are still to be taught how to write properly and how to add/subtract by hand - these concepts are important building blocks.

Technology definitely does not solve everything, but it is a tool of great value.

Regarding video games, there are studies showing that some games promote excellent hand-eye coordination, to the extent that some medical schools are experimenting with using video games to help aspiring doctors sharpen their surgical skills.

Video games are what we make of them. I watched hours upon hours of Looney Tunes as a child and I harbor no desire to drop anvils on people, or shoot ducks during rabbit season.

There was a tremendous series of posts by a 20-something man with a history of mental disease and he freely admitted that violent video games helped keep him from becoming a menace to society. Bottom line is we need to be careful about the generalizations of video games and the like.

And lastly, for Shamash, as a wee lad I'd accompany my dad when he would rent time on a bigger mainframe for processing and he'd have me help load magnetic tapes and showed me whopping 10MB platters. Those were the days!

Texas Girl said...

it's becoming harder and harder to be a parent trying to do the right thing and make the right decisions for your kids, especially when you have your school district working against you.

Texas girl said...

2;07 asks a good question, what about all the games, etc.. that are loaded on personal devices? how is a teacher supposed to control, manage and supervise that? Would love to hear from some CMS teachers on this topic. Where are they?

Anonymous said...

In other news, North Carolina just got a D grade in its school reform efforts:

Missouri said...

You have to understand the agenda this organization has. As you see as you read the details, many states have these same issues. Such is the state of public education driven by the democrats and their either coddling of the unions or circling the wagons to prevent any changes to this domain.

Clearly you see how educrats and democrats cherish the role of "saving the black people" yet still refuse to use hard fact and data to understand how to effectively educate them because they do not want to. They rely on the race card politics and character assassination by the local mass media to keep taxpayers at bay.

Jeff Wise said...


I don't think you can just point a finger at Democrats on bad school reform. Republicans are essentially the same. Both parties are heavy on favoring high stakes testing and using bad data to try and measure teacher effectiveness.

The current wave of school reform knows not partisan politics.

Anonymous said...

Teachers can pinpoint the release date of the latest and most graphically violent first-person-shooter video game by the corresponding uptick in behavior problems the following week.

Kids, (yes, even in the suburbs), routinely come to school irritable, exhausted, and bleary-eyed from far too much screen time and far too little sleep.

Parents can barely be bothered to turn off their cell phones long enough to acknowledge their child's presence when picking them up from school, so I suppose you could say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. We need to set the boundaries for the appropriate use of technology at home (and practice what we preach) before we can expect teachers with 25+ kids in a classroom to do so.

The commentators who referred to the BYOT initiative as "a pacifier" and "a joke" are right on the money. It's just another CMS feel-good time-waster and taxpayer fleecing which will primarily serve to create more jobs for an already overflowing pool of unnecessary and ineffective CMS administrators.

Missouri said...

Jeff, interesting you think Republians have anything to do with testing. If you want to discuss NCLB, there was no NEW testing criteria in it. It only referenced states using their existing testing criteria. The Obama administration has been offering money like a "john" to the states to get on board with even more extensive testing as in the "mis" use to evaluate teachers via their students' scores. A serious mis-step if you have never proctored tests in middle school and high school as I have done. All NCLB was after was stopping illiterate students from getting a diploma and yet our democrat controlled state passed law after law preventing the test from being used to stop the promotion of illiterate students.

The democrats abused this strategy by allowing this inner circle of consultants/past superintendents to scrape off valuable education budget dollars for these tests/reports/etc. Additionally, they were more than glad to prostitute themselves for money from any foundation they could and generally with no useful results after multi-years of experimental school reform.

So don't try to pawn much of this off on Republicans. They and their business buddies were tired of graduates that could not fill out a job application, could not conduct themsleves in a job interview and could not interact with a customer.

But in any case, public education, like medical costs, college costs, etc. has been ruined by the intrusion of the federal government.

Anonymous said...

George W. Bush enacted the No Child Left Behind Act.


Missouri said...

Alicia, actually the worse feature of NCLB was from the insistance of Ted Kennedy, the portion about the school being labeled "failed" if any subgroup failed. Don't forget Bush tried to work along with the Demo's and all they did was stab him in the back and put idiots like Michael Moore in front of cameras with taxpayers' money.

Anonymous said...

Missouri and Jeff,

1. On the topic of being in the zone...

In terms of critical brain development periods which, BTW, the Educational establishment prefers to call ZPD - Zone of Proximal Development.

Is it more important to allow a child to freely draw with crayons, or, is it better to have children learn how to master video games using two opposable thumbs?

2. Which takes us onto the subject of "Differentiation"...

Perhaps 2-year-olds who want to become surgeons should focus their thumbs on video games while 3-year-olds who want to become journalists focus all ten fingers on coloring?

* Did you know teachers are no longer allowed to give children old-fashioned coloring book pictures? Doing so prevents children from being "creative" which, apparently, is critical to making sure they can neatly draw within the bubble on a high-stakes standardized test using a #2 pencil.

Angry birds? More like mad cows to me.


Jeff Wise said...


I'm not going to debate partisan politics. It's clear both parties are on the wrong path with their current education agenda. If you don't see that, that's fine.

Both parties want high stakes testing. Both parties want testing to be tied to teacher pay. Both parties completely misunderstand the flaws in testing and how useless it is to measure student growth. And on and on it goes.

I believe education to be a non-partisan issue, I'm a registered independent and I ran for school board 2 years ago as an independent. I've done plenty of reading on these issues, trust me.

Please then, don't pawn off some song and dance about how one party is to blame while the other party only wants rainbows and unicorns - that's garbage.

Jeff Wise said...


To your points on my points. The idea of video games enhancing dexterity isn't something for toddlers, but more in line with teenagers.

Our 5-year-old enjoys using our iPad, but spends more time doing creative stuff with non-tech objects.

To that end, if an engaged parent wants to push their child to be a brain surgeon fro age 3 and use video games, that's their choice.

The people behind the Welcome To Your Child's Brain book talk a lot about the optimal ages for various developmental milestones. Their blog is good too. Paul Tough's books address this to a degree too. It's a fascinating area of study and highlights the wonders of human development.

Anonymous said...

Now a HR employee causes the Transportation Dept. to have to worry about the loss of their identity. Their solution was for them to contact the FTC?

Please say it isnt so!

Anonymous said...

George W. Bush enacted the No Child Left Behind Act.


NCLB was a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, which was supposed to expire in 1970.

It was reauthorized every 5 years since then, with Bush renaming it NCLB with the changes he made to the act.

Anonymous said...

After reading many of these posts yesterday, I asked my 4th grade daughter who is in a BYOT classroom about it. She said "Mom, I know why they want us to do it, so we will can play and have fun all day." Out of the mouths of babe.

Shamash said...


On the tech-nostalgia angle, I actually programmed a PDP-8 as an undergrad in BINARY machine language.

I'm not kidding. Pure zeros and one's toggled into memory using toggle switches indicating either 1(up) or zero(down)

Bit by bit.

The goal was to search a list of numbers stored in a particular range of memory and return the largest number.

I think it took something like 60 lines of code to do this as I recall.

Talk about some "skills"...

But think about this.

Such "skills" were probably very similar to those used by computer programmers who were responsible for putting a man on the moon in the 1960's.

The technology was crude in comparison to what we have today, but they made very good use of what they had.

Jeff Wise said...


Granted it's only a quarter after 9, but your comment there is the best thing I've read all day.

Shamash said...

Texas girl,

I also wonder about this.

I have already put some parental control software on my son's Kindle Fire called Freetime.

The device powers up using that device which restricts the content (video, books, apps) and the time which may be spent on each category each day (unlimited books, 30 minutes video, 30 minutes apps) all at MY choice.

Now, if he takes his device to school, someone has to disable those rules or broaden them to make the rules worthless.

Or else teachers have to learn how to manage each type of parental control software for each type of device and have the access codes to do so.

Or they should develop a STANDARD control process for everyone.

I don't think they are capable of doing and enforcing either option.

So, the end result is unrestricted access to whatever the kids can find.

I just wish they had let me listen to a portable radio when I was in school.

I must have missed hours of cool "underground" radio broadcasts while in class...

Anonymous said...

The problem with "technology" in the classroom is that it will only rarely be used in a constructive manner; especially with elementary students. More often, the "technology" will be used as a babysitter and time filler. Since these students LOVE their iphones and such, they will fall back on those pieces of entertainment for all free time. The teacher will struggle to continue quiet small-group instruction while other students play with their videos, cameras, games, etc. Students will be rewarded for finishing work quickly by getting more time to play. Teachers will struggle to keep students on task. Technology in the classroom, in the hands of the students, will make teaching more difficult. How many parents find it easy to get and maintain their child's attention while they are playing a video game? The same will go for a teacher and her/his students.

Texas girl said...

3:36 You are 100% correct. I have seen that exact phenomenon in the classes already with BYOT. And, now parents are calling, texting and emailing their little darlings throughout the day.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful. Little to no available technology in the classroom now. Grants for i-pads were bogus and every student has better equipment than the employees. Sounds like a reasonable plan to me.

Anonymous said...

In the eyes of CMS they can now increase class sizes and layoff more teachers if they increase technology use. Seems like a good deal for more money to be poured into downtown offices.

Anonymous said...

seriously, what is the upside to this decision? I can't come up with anything solid from a parent's point of view. I can see why CMS likes it, as previous people have noted here, it must save them a lot of money.