Are there too many computers in the classroom?

In today's open source roundup: Do computers help or hurt students? Plus: XCOM: Enemy Unknown released for Linux, and learning Linux through poetry

By , ITworld |  Open Source, education, Linux

The open source revolution has helped put more computers in the classroom at a significant cost savings for schools. But are computers an asset or a liability when it comes to learning? John Dvork at PC Magazine thinks that the use of computers in the classroom should be limited and that computers are not a panacea that will improve the ability of students to learn and grow.

According to PC Magazine:

I'll make this assertion once and only once. The only thing a computer does in the classroom is distract from studies. Of course, if you are studying how to use a computer or how to do a great Web search, then the computer is a perfect tool. But that should be where it ends. Teachers should be the focal point for teaching, not computers.

There is something weird and pathetic about a teacher who goes from student to student to help them individually on the computer. This is not teaching, this is IT support.

More at PC Magazine

Too many computers in the classroom?

I could not disagree more with Dvorak. One of the things I always hated when I was in school was having to sit in a classroom and listen to a teacher drone on endlessly about a subject. It felt like it was taking forever for them to get to the point and present the information. Really, I remember doodling on my notebook while the teacher went on and on in what seemed like an endless monologue about whatever.

Maybe that was just my perception at the time (I graduated high school back in 1987), but I would much rather have had faster access to all of the course information rather than waiting for the teacher to regurgitate it verbally to me. Oral communication in person is such a slow and ponderous way to transfer information compared to what you can do with today's computers and tablets.

And I would have welcomed the ability to take tests on a computer instead of using a pencil and a piece of paper. It would have been faster and easier than writing things out by hand, and it certainly would have been easier for the teacher to read what I wrote on a computer screen than in my awful handwriting.

I truly wish we had had today's computers and tablets back when I was in school. Unfortunately, that was more than 25 years ago so computers were never an option. I would have given a lot for one of today's tablets or laptops back in those days.

I think perhaps John Dvorak's commentary about computers in the classroom is more an indication of his age and a longing for "the good old days" than anything else. He seems trapped in a past that thankfully no longer exists. Today's students are blessed with the power of today's technology and that's a good thing.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown now on Linux
OMG Ubuntu notes that XCOM: Enemy Unknown is now out for Linux.

According to OMG Ubuntu:

The game, first released in 2012, puts you in control of a paramilitary group called ‘XCOM’ who carry with them the burden of defending the earth from an extraterrestrial enemy boasting superior technological advantage.

Alongside the base game, an array of add-on content enjoyed by Windows, Mac and console gamers since 2012 has also been made available for Linux gamers through Steam. This includes the XCOM: Enemy Within expansion pack.

More at OMG Ubuntu

Another great game makes its way onto Linux, and it surely won't be the last. It seems we're experiencing an avalanche of games coming to Linux lately. Well we've been through the famine years of Linux gaming so now it's time to enjoy the feast.

If you haven't played XCOM: Enemy Within before you might want to check out VentureBeat's "8 tips for saving the world in XCOM: Enemy Unknown" to bone up on strategy and tactics. You can also visit the XCOM: Enemy Unknown forum to connect with other gamers and learn their secrets.

Learn Linux through poetry
Linux.com reports on a unique way of learning Linux via poetry.

According to Linux.com:

Writing poems about the Linux kernel has been enlightening in more ways than one for software developer Morgan Phillips.

Over the past few months she's begun to teach herself how the Linux kernel works by studying text books, including Understanding the Linux Kernel, Unix Network Programming, and The Unix Programming Environment. But instead of taking notes, she weaves the new terminology and ideas she learns into poetry about system architecture and programming concepts.

More at Linux.com

Poetry and Linux
Image credit: Linux.com

I must admit that I would never have thought of combining Linux and poetry. What a creative and different way of learning about Linux, kudos to Morgan Phillips for sharing her Linux poems with us on her poetry blog.

What's your take on all this? Tell me in the comments below.

The opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of ITworld.

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