Posted by GiantsFan, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Feb 13, 2012 at 11:40 am
Glad to read this. On this particular issue, I like the "as long as it doesn't interfere" approach rather than the ever increasing "zero tolerance" and draconian rigidity approaches. Not that is appropriate for every issue, but on this, I think its wise. I personally wouldn't support "as long as it doesn't interfere" with smoking weed and drinking booze on campus.
Hard to imagine what this must be like though- when I was a kid, the height of personal electronic technology was a "Walkman." Cell phones were mainly for people like doctors. I still remember my dad's (who is a doctor) Motorola MicroTAC, circa 1990. It was very substantial - made of high grade polymer with a bright alphanumeric dot matrix LED display. It must have cost around $1000.
Posted by former Paly parent, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Feb 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm
I am going to be the one to take a harsh stand against this - though I no longer have students in the schools here.
Wealthy, highly educated young people who are privileged to be able to own luxury gadgets like iPads, smartphones(especially in high school and college)are often convinced they can multi-task to an extreme extent without any issues. I do not believe this is the case, and there was a serious tv show recently addressing this intriguing subject.
Unfortunately, I only saw part of this show which featured MIT and Stanford professors (did I get your attention with that?) who did experiments about information retention/ability to multi-task and/or commented based on their experiences as professors on these "top" high-tech/knowledgeable students using electronic gadgets all the time, including in some classes.
The takeaway, at least in the time I saw the show, was even the students who said they were absolutely certain they were "the best" (such humility!) and could deftly handle multi-tasking, multiple gadgets, Tweeting while posting on fb at high speed in continuous fashion while in an MIT class....COULD NOT.
A particular MIT engineering prof, for example, said his students (who are all "brilliant," of course) should have much higher grades on his tests (he described one particular recent test quite specifically) and he attributed it to their lack of attention. They should have much higher grades and would...IF they paid attention in lecture (material is thoroughly covered by prof - appeared to be palatably conveyed).
These students (or their parents, I should say) are PAYING for them to attend and learn at MIT --(some may have some scholarship or FA support) and instead of focusing on the lecture, as directly shown on the tv show, they preferred to focus on their laptops and other gadgets! Not too smart, in my opinion.
Maybe someone on this forum from Stanford can flesh out my casual commentary since I don't have the name of the show (on public tv or a "serious" channel) and I believe there were more details on the relevant research there, which appeared commendable.
At the least, theft IS a major issue with gadgets (do ANY of you have students in college or young adult children on public transit anywhere?!) and I believe a major portion of gadgetry is for entertainment and quite inane communication as opposed to anything worthwhile (look at Ashton Kutcher's tweet history!) and gadgets should be DISCOURAGED in our public high schools and harsh penalties should fall on those disrupting classes. Looking down and facebooking while attending class is idiotic. Trying to get rid of gadgets altogether is unrealistic, I know...but watch it when you step off that curb (latest form of Darwinism?)
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Feb 13, 2012 at 4:09 pm
Former Paly Parent
Whereas I appreciate your concern, I do not for a minute think that "multi-tasking" during classes is the reason these gadgets are being allowed in school. I think much more they are taking the place of pen and paper, and text books, etc. The majority of the middle school classrooms have smart boards (not so the highschools) and there is talk soon of having etext books on ipads rather than hard copies.
At present, most of the homework many students does is submitted through websites eg turnitin, to check for plagiarism, and inclass, infinite campus and schoology are being used by teachers and staff alike as tools for communication, teaching, admin and group projects, etc.
Yes, theft is a concern, but, I think you are still looking at technology as it was used a few years ago. We maybe moving too fast forward, but we do need to move into the area of technology in our schools and the wise principals in our high schools can see this.
I agree, that students should not be using technology for personal use and presumably there are protocols for this. But, using technology in the classroom has to be the way to go.
Posted by former Paly parent, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Feb 13, 2012 at 6:23 pm
I think we are focussing on a variety of different things...the ideal vs. what is really happening. If I were a school administrator, I would be looking to place crystal clear limits on electronics use at school, during the school day.
Theft is one obvious issue with this scenario - the more one waves portable valuables about, the more there is risk, whether by fellow students or members of the general public who steal stuff.
Also, personal use of electronic gadgets is so widespread that it IS a true headache (as MIT prof explains in the show I referenced above). Check with students at university - extreme personal use of social media and gadgets is the norm. I believe personal interaction is being very compromised in favor of endless texting, etc.
I have a student at university who mentioned to me iPads/e-readers don't suit for certain subjects (I guess where there are formulae?); I realize such gadgets/online textbooks MAY sometimes suit (and save money) - fine.
I know students are increasingly submitting work via web; nobody is objecting to a student owning a laptop or desktop.
I am thinking of the increase in multiple gadgets and distractions and how inane these distractions often are (keeping up with fb while doing something else similarly irrelevant) during the work/school day.
To leap back to the theft issue...as a taxpayer I resent the multiple thefts of valuable school/district owned electronics that have occurred in this region; at a minimum students and staff must highly respect school district property and be held liable if such property is lost/stolen.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Feb 14, 2012 at 4:06 am Walter_E_Wallis is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
There are tablets available for as little as $75. If instructors were encourage to use on-line free or reduced price text books the tablet cost would be insignificant. If bans on backpacks were lifted then thefts cold be reduced. The school might even supply software that identifies computers on the internet.
Posted by annie, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Feb 14, 2012 at 9:50 am
Backward idea. Turn off the wifi
When the research is turning up that being constantly wired
1. Stops eye to eye communicatio
2. Encourages destructive "multitasking", ie doing 4 things at once and losing 40 percent of your time "switching"
3. Reduces note taking skills and learning
4. Reduces deep thought
5. Makes you beholden to service providers to get an education
6. AND this is the most important one
ENABLES TEACHERS TO BE SUBSTITUTED by SCREENS.
Students look at the screen not at the teacher. SO why have the teacher? Why the subtle cues of eye to eye contact when there is none?
Its a disaster. SUre use computers but only for one thing at a time, WITHOUT multitasking, WITHOUT wifi access in classrooms or in the PLAY ground. Kids lose communication skills and the ability to concentrate.
Posted by Technology for languages please, a resident of the Esther Clark Park neighborhood, on Feb 14, 2012 at 10:55 am
Speaking of technology,
when are our local schools going to start and use technology to teach foreign languages?
With class sizes as they are, it's the only solution to effectively teach foreign languages. Yet, we still have old fashioned teacher lecture based foreign language classes, with the predictable outcome that our students spend 2 or more years in languages classes and in the end... can't speak the language at all.
It is mind-boggling that technology has not been adopted in this field yet in our local schools.
Growing up in Europe 30 years ago, we had language audio labs we went to in order to practice our oral skills in the languages we were learning. 30 years ago!
How come we have nothing of the sort or equivalent in 2012 in Palo Alto schools?
Posted by Annie, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Feb 14, 2012 at 11:09 am
you see 'when are we going to use technology" will be the overwhelming push here. Then the next step is to remove teachers. Nothing beats a teacher. They adjust speed and content based on eye contact . Add technology, remove eye contact, do away with teachers. Its way cheaper to have the technology than teachers.
This will be just like the 1960s when they did away with grammar! and grades for fear of self esteem reduction! This will be one of the greatest follies in history, like communism, or the crusades, a monsterously dumb destructive idea. Its just a fixation with technology. Sure teachers can use it in the classrooms. But DO NOT let the kids have wifi, and DO NOT reduce teachers and replace them with technology.
Its a slippery slope guys.
Now think about your real estate. When the Palo Alto schools use technology not teachers they have no edge over other schools. Your real estate will lose value!
Posted by What happened to teachers?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Feb 14, 2012 at 11:43 am
What are you doing on this thread all alone? I agree with you, and some.
Wifi is already a major issue for teens at home, and the LAST frontier left without the juice was school.
Technology in and of itself seems to justify the means, and like financial derivatives, families and educators are treading on thin ice on this topic. The most ignorant about it think the more technology the better, and buy the fear mongering on the need for tablets, and the need for wifi freedom. Of course Apple and Facebook will tell you it's all good, it's their business.
The worst is that in the case of Phil Wisnton he has HIgh School kids - talking about frontal lobe in mid-development, hormonal, attention deficient, over-stimulated kids.
Do the Principals know the flood gates are already busting at home with the wifi?
I know, "they will do it anyway" it's what they are asking for"
Duh the kids want it in school! It's likely restricted at home.
Adults can't contain themselves, anyone seen the billions of dollars in loss of productivity from social media in companies? and we're saying let wifi loose in school for teenagers?
Could you please at least take a thorough look at this issue, survey parents not just kids, instead of just saying the kids want it.
Posted by Annie, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Feb 14, 2012 at 4:13 pm
What happened to teachers?, Of course we are talking sense. Why doesnt the Paly Principal see this. Its a reason to leave the school district. It is backward, NOT up with the latest research and destructive. In the school yard they gaze at screens. At home with friends the gaze at screens and its a CONSTANT battle just to get them to play in the fresh air. At any child care they gaze at screens, in the cars, at the gas station, in the elevator! People are never left alone with their own thoughts. Can never develop a big concept.
I think we should protest to the Paly Principal in the STRONGEST way. He must show us the evidence that allowing kids to flick on and off games and facebook in the class is good for learning. To spend all day looking at screens not learning how to interact with people is a good thing.
Skelley is more responsive. That letter he sent saying his family was switching off all devices for the holidays gave me hope. We should go to him.
Its a game changer for me. I will not have anything to do with a school that lets kids go online all day.
Posted by Annie, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Feb 14, 2012 at 4:38 pm
We should call the press - its a hot topic and they are all over it and the research on destructive effects of constant multitasking has been recently in the NYTimes - and then have a rally in front of Palo Alto High School. This would be front page news being in Palo Alto. Plus we could invite the relevant profs to join us.
Watch this space those who are interested. If the principal continues this we should organize.
Posted by Geez, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Feb 15, 2012 at 12:55 am
Wow, some insane comments on this thread. Phil Winston is a fantastic and popular principal who is in touch with students and parents, unlike Skelly, our superintendent. We have seen improvements at Paly since he arrived.
Posters here are misinterpreting. Teachers don't allow students to text or check emails in class (get real). All Winston is saying is that they can do this on campus outside of the classrooms. Put your whips away and worry about yourselves.
Posted by Annie, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Feb 15, 2012 at 10:30 am
Firstly they cannot monitor in classroom use. If they have devices and there is wi-fi they will flip in and out of screens during class. They do at Stanford, and Harvard and MIT so they will at high school. It is a huge additional stressor to expect them to self monitor.
Secondly if wi-fi is available in the school yard the kids will do nothing else during the break than gaze at screens. This is not insane to point this out. This is simply observations of kids behavior in the last few years since these devices became widely used. If you want your kids to gaze at screens rather than run around or interact socially, if you want your kids to get addicted to checking facebook or buying or emailing online every few seconds, if you want them to become distracted 24/7 then this is a "sane" policy for you.
At very least you must admit that there is now almost NO evidence that this benefits and much emerging evidence it does not. So WHY introduce it.
I am not a luddite. No one in Silicon Valley can be accused of that. Nor are the dozens of other concerned Palo Alto parents who have personally expressed their concerns to me. The only good thing about this is that it will be a useful case study - interesting to see how the SAT results go (down) in a year or two after this introduced, compared with schools that only use computers for one thing at time, no wi-fi and no cell phones on campus. Other than that useful study this serves no useful purpose other than appearing "hip". It seems to fly in the face of every piece of commonsense or any parents observation of what these technologies are doing to kids attention spans. And it is just the marketing push of the technology companies that makes reasonable people think this is a reasonable policy.
Posted by Computer-Based-Education-Is-Good-For-All, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Feb 15, 2012 at 11:20 am
> ENABLES TEACHERS TO BE SUBSTITUTED by SCREENS.
Yes, that's true. Because of labor unions, teachers are now costing taxpayers from 100k to over 150k for a 186-day work year. With all benefits, and pension payouts, the cost of a senior teacher is now easily $250k a year in districts like Palo Alto. Society can not afford this craziness.
Teacher quality also varies from class room to class room. Computer-based instruction goes a long way to deliver the highest quality instruction to the largest number of students at the lowest price.
Education was supposed to be a positive thing. Sadly, it has turned negative, and is one of the contributors of bankrupting the country.
Posted by Geez, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Feb 15, 2012 at 11:57 am
@Annie: Interesting that there actually ARE luddites in Palo Alto - imagine that! The parents are responsible for their children. If they have a smart-phone addicted child, it's their responsibility to set limits on usage. Students are not allowed to use their phones in class or the teacher will take the phone away. And if someone is sneaking in text checks in class, that's their issue. Cannot regulate college students in this matter. Live and let live.
Posted by Technology for languages please, a resident of the Esther Clark Park neighborhood, on Feb 15, 2012 at 11:59 am
I am close to the issue, although I am not a teacher, and I know very well how languages are taught at PA schools and how ineffective it is, at least for some languages.
I am not saying that we should completely replace teachers with technology. Teachers definitely have their place in teaching languages. However, as things are now, the kids learn to read and write the language but don't learn to understand it well orally and even less to speak it. Part of the reason is that the classes are huge (30 +) which does not work for language classes. You'd need a much smaller group so that each student has ample opportunity to practice.
Hiring more teachers and reducing class size dramatically for language courses is not a possibility as things stand in PA.
So, supplementing with technology would be VERY beneficial.
I speak several languages, as many Europeans do. I learned them in Europe and the audio labs of the 70s were a godsend. They allowed each student to practice speaking and oral understanding thoroughly, individually, at their own pace. Nothing could have replaced this practice.
Nowadays it can be done even more easily than with the audio labs of yore. There is so much technology.
Teachers should actually welcome and embrace these opportunities as their students would become much more proficient, at least for foreign languages.
Posted by What happened to teachers?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Feb 15, 2012 at 2:50 pm
Would Rock and Roll be allowed in the classrooms?
how about some love and incense too.
In case anyone has seen research on sleep and teens, or stress and teens, and the high stakes academic environment - it does not mix well with Facebook or Tumblr. THe schools themselves are already saying the playground is going home with the kids, now it needs to be in the classroom, does not make any sense.
I think social media also contributes to depression in teens - compounding the problems of self-esteem in an image obsessed media form.
Isn't the whole point of Science to question it? WIll the schools know just how much "technology" is being used on social media?
When you actually have the right research and tools AND technology in place, then put forth a reasonable argument for it. "The kids are asking for it" That is not an argument.
If I were 15, I would also rather look at pictures of the quarterback, and stalk them on FB instead of listening to Spanish tapes. Oh wait a minute, I can do BOTH.
I agree with Annie, "It is a huge additional stressor to expect them to self monitor."
On a separate note, I think Phil WInston is grand, but am completely against his rock and roll wifi idea.
Posted by C, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Feb 15, 2012 at 3:10 pm
I am wondering what is his motives of sending this message out to the students/public? These days, kids are bringing these devices with them almost everywhere even inside the bath room, on the dinner tables.. :-$
Posted by The-Wheel-Turns-But-Never-Seems-To-Get-Anywhere, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Feb 15, 2012 at 4:26 pm
> Would Rock and Roll be allowed in the classrooms?
The comment was made in response to the silliness of:
> Do the Principals know the flood gates are already busting
> at home with the wifi?
Keep in mind that 3G/4G/LTE are all "in the classroom" as well as WiFi. We have been seeing combination wireless devices on the market for a couple of years now. There is supposed to be an LTE Kindle out soon.
What is so funny about this silliness of the parents posting here is that they can turn off the WiFi in their home any time they want. They pay the bills, and they set the rules--if they have the backbone to do so.
As to monitoring WiFi in the classroom..this could be done by simply logging all of the connections on each given Access Point. If there are people logged in when they should not be, then the connection log will identify the users. This sort of thing is easiest to do when the school has its own username/password scheme.
This router logging might require writing a little software, but it's hard not to find people here in the Silicon Valley who are capable. This is the sort of thing that hardware vendors should be will to help school districts figure out, since any innovations that emerge from work in one school district can be applied to every school district in the nation, and probably worldwide.
There are too many people posting this topic that have absolutely no technical knowledge, or even any sense that even if it "can't be done today".. it "will be done tomorrow". People need to stop making blanket statements, and asking instead if "something can be done?"
Posted by Annie, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Feb 15, 2012 at 5:34 pm
I am sure you "The-Wheel-Turns-But-Never-Seems-To-Get-Anywhere" are more technically hip than me. The little I know on the topic includes the fact that they tried to scramble cell phone reception in jails but rain into civil liberty issues - if you can believe this.
And ithe recent GPS tracking decision by the Supreme Court, no less. No one knows how to handle this. Is it an invasion of privacy to let kids be monitored? If so how is it that we can let out kids consume advertisements in a public school via Orwellian nightmare of facebuck? This is a HUGE topic. I dont have the answers. I just know that to buy the sales pitch which comes with the selling of the next gizmo is easy. Any moron can do that. To think how this may playout in 3 years time is hard. That takes the brain of George Orwell which I do not have!
WHat I do know is that its not so easy to scramble one class room at a time without scrambling the one next door- that is the nature of Wifi. Maybe it is possible to create a "Faraday cage" around a classroom so that kids can neither wi-fi OR cell phone. And that is what many university professors want - but this is now that easy or that cheap. Way easier just to provide landlines to the teachers and TURN OF THE WIFI. My point.
And please stop the one upmanship - I know more about technology than thou - talk. You probably do. Well done. Clever you. But clearly what you know nothing about, as none of us do, is the long term consequences of providing constant junk readily available to school age children trying to actually learn something!
Posted by Annie, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Feb 15, 2012 at 5:49 pm
And, as someone said that we SHOULD substitute technology for teachers becaues tech cheaper. I REST MY POINT> The paly principal is complicit in the demise of the teaching profession. Wonder how the teachers union will react to that. I will forward this link to the principal. That IS the end point of this. NO more face to face teaching. Is this really what we want.
Did you know that a baby prefers a FACE to anything else at the age of 3 MONTHS!!!!! That is how wired we are to facial expression. Faces are critical to our survival. But right now we are prepared to let this subtle nuance communication go cos it costs more than technology AND because marketing guys have told us to, herd mentality, buy the latest gizmo. The stupidity is mind boggling!
Says that cell phones are not allowed in most prisons, although with more than fifty prison systems in the country--who can tell without a comprehensive review.
This issue of wireless networks at the PAUSD has a troubled history. Back in 2003, the Weekly managed to create a firestorm over there (at the School District), when one of its reporters managed to get into the wireless network and find some proprietary information. The following link provided just a few of the high-lites:
Editorial: Breach of security needs special probe:
At the time, the wireless network was shut down. Only someone with close association to the story, and the School District, can be depended upon to tell the whole story. However, it's good to hear that the wireless networks are back up on the PAUSD campuses.
We are Channel One News, the leading television news network for teens nationwide. Our mission is to inform, educate and inspire by making news relevant and engaging for young people and sparking discussion around the important issues impacting youth today.
Broadcasting since 1990, Peabody Award-winning Channel One News, now a division of Alloy Media + Marketing, is the top source of high quality, unbiased news and information for young people. The dynamic 12-minute news broadcast is delivered daily to nearly six million teens in approximately 8,000 middle schools and high schools across the country, providing global and national headlines from a teen perspective with a fast-paced production style, youthful reporters and contemporary music.
With about 65m students in public schools, it would seem that Channel 1 has so far managed about a 10% penetration of that market. Best anyone can tell, none of the 6+M kids exposed to Channel 1 advertising has become deranged, flunked out of school, or ended up in a mental institution.
To the extent that Facebook is accessible via kids cellphones while they are on a school campus, or the schools WiFi network--this is definitely a non-issue for all but those who see nothing good in technology, or technology-boosted education.
Posted by Annie, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Feb 15, 2012 at 9:42 pm
So you think it is good for high school kids to put their private information out so that a private corporation can benefit? If it were a government it would never be allowed but now corporations are people so they dupe fools into giving them their info for private profit. Its like smoking. Everyone thought that cool too. Companies profited. Millions got sick.
In Europe there is a challenge to Facebook. There are issues about how well informed people are when they click that I agree button. But here you are saying its good for MINORS to do this and while at school!! It is truly terrifying.
Did you get up to mischief? Would you want your current employer/spouse to know all you ever did? Would you want a government to get hold of your data and use it to spy on you. This is all possible because poor duped people like you give their data away to be exploited by a facebook or any of the new social network companies which will soon erode fb's short term monopoly. Facebook is for fools. It is unnecessary. You can email your photos privately to your REAL friends. And to say that this is now the preferred means of communication for children at school is so short sighted as to be terrifying. Americans of our generation were nothing if not trained consumers. All you need is a product and the average guy or gal thinks that life is automatically better if they use it!
Take a deep breath. Anyway the next gizmo will soon be superceded. But what is truly new is the effect this is having on peoples brains, particularly young minds who never had it any other way. The good and bad is not clear to all. Not me, not you, and not the principal of Paly. Think about thinks like privacy, solitude, deep interpersonal communication, focus, calm, deep thought, culture, nuance... These things and more are what is at stake here. If this is not stopped in out hitherto excellent public schools and in a community where, thank goodness there are enough smart people to question these things openly, then what hope is there in communities where everyone thinks like he-Wheel-Turns-But-Never-Seems-To-Get-Anywhere, ie that its good to be a passive consumer of whatever advertisers foist on them because, er, because, er because if your not you are some how ...as you were before!
Posted by What happened to teachers?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Feb 16, 2012 at 9:58 am
The wheels turn but.......
"With about 65m students in public schools, it would seem that Channel 1 has so far managed about a 10% penetration of that market. Best anyone can tell, none of the 6+M kids exposed to Channel 1 advertising has become deranged, flunked out of school, or ended up in a mental institution."
Have you ever watched Channel 1?
Commercial-laden or commercial-free, using data about Channel 1 penetration in teenagers, compared to Facebook penetration in teenagers is like using data on sprouts vs chocolate.