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The Wi-Fi Classroom
Wireless laptop push spreads
by Karl Bode 01:23PM Wednesday Oct 15 2003
Though facing budget crunches, schools nation-wide work to outfit students with Wi-Fi enabled laptops, with varying degrees of success. While the push is growing in a number of different districts, not everyone is on the same page.

Former Maine Governor Angus King decided that 239 middle schools in the state should be outfitted with wireless networks. What's more, he wanted to provide every seventh grader in the state a laptop to access it with. The plan wound up costing $37 million, and naturally upset a few people who thought the money could be have been better used elsewhere.

"Dear Governor," begins one letter (LA Times link), "This is the stupidest idea any politician ever had. What are you smoking?" There are some schools in Maine where classrooms are little more than portable trailers, and the laptops stand sharply out of place in lower-class schools, desperately in need of far less elegant upgrades.

But since the project was implemented, many who were originally opposed to the idea have changed their minds, after watching how the wireless connectivity has affected the students' hunger for learning; though critics apparently remain. The addition of wireless laptops to schools that had gone without PC's has also cost more than originally anticipated, as they've had to dole out additional money for printers, software, and training.

It isn't always money that sidetracks some schools plans for wireless access.

Plans to install a Wi-Fi network in an Illinois school have been halted after parents sued the school for planning to install a WLAN without consulting parents in the community. The filing itself alleges that there's a "substantial and growing body of scientific literature studying and outlining the serious health risks that exposure to low intensity, but high radio frequency ("RF") poses to human beings, particularly children."

Schools who have embraced wireless laptops claim the benefits are clear. Twelve year old students in suburban Chicago prepare themselves (and their stomachs) with mock dissections before heading off to do the real thing in science class, according to this Reuters report. Wireless laptops allowed Hong Kong schools, closed during the SARS outbreak, to continue operations while students learned from home.

Not every school system is fighting the idea. Michigan recently announced they'd be placing an order for 130,000 Wi-Fi enabled laptops, enough to give one to every sixth grader in the state, says the Detroit Free Press. With that total being just for the first year, hardware manufacturers are naturally salivating over the possibilities.

Application service providers like the Learning Station are also thrilled by the profits to be made by wireless bandwidth as a mainstream educational initiative. The company can provide 12,000 programs from 75 content publishers under a centralized framework, and is one of several ASP's looking to capitalize on the trend.

According to research from Eduventures, there are 110,000 public schools throughout the United States alone, which combined spend $6.2 billion a year on technology. $500 million of that total was spent on wireless connectivity during the 2001-2002 school year; a total that's expected to quadruple by 2004.

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Microhard3

join:2001-08-03
Huntington Beach, CA

Wha....

Where is this money coming from to do this? I know from you and me, but common when will this spending stop?

Yes, I am mean I want to take the laptops out of the childrens hands. I want a white board with books and a computer class with desktops...am I wrong here do they really need laptops?

Stewy85
Premium
join:2003-01-16

Re: Wha....

I agree, I think they need a classroom with desktops not laptops.

Philmatic
Premium
join:2000-07-15
Santa Barbara, CA
You have no idea how valuable a personal computer can affect the learning experience for a child (or young adult for that matter).

It gives them a sense of privacy, uniqueness, and allows them to work on homework at any time.

It allows the teacher to give digital handouts, which saves paper and space. Student can turn everything in digitally and work on group projects must easier.

Students have more self-confidence, especially low-income families that cannot usually provide such things for their kids. As we all know, when a child is confident in him and in his education, he will embrace education with excitement.

It has been proven that when used effectively, laptops can save money in the long run by using digital books rather than the school having to purchase physical ones.

technick
Premium
join:2000-12-16
Wheat Ridge, CO
kudos:1
Though I agree and disagree with this, I disregard most people's negative thoughs about this. Desktops have had their time in classrooms, back in the day. Today is the age of mobility, and portability. Not stationary, and im sure many people will agree, desktops are old.

Ever since I have had my first laptop, it has changed the way I work, the way I use the internet, the way I travel, and it has touched my life in great ways.

I am 23 now, I could have only wished that when I was in middle school the schools would do this. This is the future guys, we need to move foward, and advance at all costs. The school book thing was good back in the day, but these are the kids that will be walking with fully automated computers on them all the time, and live in a electronic age more than ever.
--
AMD 2500, 1024 MEG PC 3200, 180 GIG HDD, MSI KT4 Ultra Board, MSI GEFORCE 4 TI 4600

pnh102
Reptiles Are Cuddly And Pretty
Premium
join:2002-05-02
Mount Airy, MD
said by Microhard3:
Where is this money coming from to do this? I know from you and me, but common when will this spending stop?
States and local governments have been engaged in an orgy of tax hiking since 2000. I guess they have to waste all that money somewhere.
--
The tobacco industry is more respectable than the telemarketing industry.
anewdoman

join:2003-05-27
Spokane, WA
Get with the times. The advatages are tremendous. Have some kids, then complain about paying for taxes on school bonds. If you don't own property in the district then what's it to you?
Beeper
Part Of The Problem

join:2001-09-27
Dayton, OH

Re: Wha....

said by anewdoman:
If you don't own property in the district then what's it to you?
Everything.

Those kids are future taxpayers. My prescription drug benefit in 2040 depends on them paying 60% tax rates.
--
Guaranteed Fear and Loathing. Abandon all hope. Prepare for the Weirdness. Get familiar with Cannibalism.

oliphant5
Got Identity?
Premium
join:2003-05-24
Corona, CA

1 recommendation

Exactly, schools crying poverty but their wasting money on what EVERYONE knows is the biggest money pit in computing...the laptop.

Districts their bloated spending say they haven't the budget for books, desks and basic necessities, but these same districts, who can't even get their students to pass basic exit exams are wasting money on this crap.

Get them to learn to read and performing basic mathematics before bothering to give them a $1000 laptop.

Man their priorities are F-ed up.
--
-- Munis Killed the Telco Star -- Powered by Barry McKockenner Racing in association with Jack Mikkokov Motorsports

pnh102
Reptiles Are Cuddly And Pretty
Premium
join:2002-05-02
Mount Airy, MD

Re: Wha....

said by oliphant5:
Districts their bloated spending say they haven't the budget for books, desks and basic necessities...

Get them to learn to read and performing basic mathematics before bothering to give them a $1000 laptop.
And this is even after education spending on the Federal level was increased by the largest amount ever under the "No Child Left Behind Act." At least now we know where all this money is going... ugh.
--
The tobacco industry is more respectable than the telemarketing industry.
Beeper
Part Of The Problem

join:2001-09-27
Dayton, OH

Re: Wha....

said by pnh102:
And this is even after education spending on the Federal level was increased by the largest amount ever under the "No Child Left Behind Act." At least now we know where all this money is going... ugh.
Federal spending on education is close to irrelevant.

The Education Dept. was 63 billion dollars. They say that's less than 10% of the budget for K-12 education.
Congress could quadruple Ted Kennedy's wildest fantasy spending scenario for "No Child Left Behind Act" and it would be a drop in the bucket.

The proper question is: "What does America get for $770 billion dollars spent on K-12 education?"
--
Guaranteed Fear and Loathing. Abandon all hope. Prepare for the Weirdness. Get familiar with Cannibalism.

pnh102
Reptiles Are Cuddly And Pretty
Premium
join:2002-05-02
Mount Airy, MD

Re: Wha....

said by Beeper:
Federal spending on education is close to irrelevant.
In my state, local school districts increased their tax burdens on the people through higher property taxes. They clearly aren't starving for funds. I am so sick of schools saying they "have no money" even after they do this, and then continue to spend money on BS... the sad part is that no matter who's on the school board, it still happens.
--
The tobacco industry is more respectable than the telemarketing industry.

oliphant5
Got Identity?
Premium
join:2003-05-24
Corona, CA
said by Beeper:
said by pnh102:
And this is even after education spending on the Federal level was increased by the largest amount ever under the "No Child Left Behind Act." At least now we know where all this money is going... ugh.
Federal spending on education is close to irrelevant.

The Education Dept. was 63 billion dollars. They say that's less than 10% of the budget for K-12 education.
Congress could quadruple Ted Kennedy's wildest fantasy spending scenario for "No Child Left Behind Act" and it would be a drop in the bucket.

The proper question is: "What does America get for $770 billion dollars spent on K-12 education?"

Well then, if it's such a small amount, then we should be able to return that tiny amount to the taxpayers.
--
-- Munis Killed the Telco Star -- Powered by Barry McKockenner Racing in association with Jack Mikkokov Motorsports
Beeper
Part Of The Problem

join:2001-09-27
Dayton, OH

Re: Wha....

said by oliphant5:
Well then, if it's such a small amount, then we should be able to return that tiny amount to the taxpayers.

You won't find a complaint from me.

Who will complain? Likely, those with a vested interest in the status quo, namely, people on the government payroll.
--
Guaranteed Fear and Loathing. Abandon all hope. Prepare for the Weirdness. Get familiar with Cannibalism.

BoredofTrade

join:2003-06-29
Wheaton, IL

As Time Goes On

I think this is a great idea. I would love to see this adopted by all school systems nation-wide. Though it will not be immediate, it will eventually happen (give or take decades). For those of you who do not embrace educational referendums, these children will be running our country one day. Let us hope they are well educated enough to do so.

latez

join:2002-01-07
Brooklyn, NY

'Bout time!

I was not lucky enough to go through grade school or middle school with a technology oriented education and look where I ended up? just kidding. But on a serious note, this stuff has been talked about for years, the possibility of a computer based classroom and I think its absolutely wonderful. Giving kids the oppurtunity to work hands on with technology at such an early age will certainly give them a competitive edge when it comes time for high school , or college and especially work. The future of our economy and just about everything else; is computer's. Just about any white collar job requires at the very least SOME computer training. I think that the United States looked far and wide to figure out whats wrong with our educational system since its ranked REAL low on a global scale.. and I think if they can deploy these kind of classrooms on a country wide scale , things will certainly change. And I dont mind my money wasted on these things THIS IS WHAT ITS SUPPOSED TO BE USED FOR. Not recall votes.

--
“The human mind ordinarily operates at only ten percent of its capacity — the rest is overhead for the operating system.” —Nicholas Ambrose

bokamba
Chengdu Rocks
Premium
join:2002-04-05
Falls Church, VA
Reviews:
·Cox HSI

A poor allocation of money

Excuse me, there is no justification to spend $37 million on something like that, unless the teachers are excellent and well-paid, the school buildings are in good repair, and the curriculum is of high quality. In other words, if you're a private school or a public school in a rich neighborhood, go for it. Otherwise, fix the more pressing problems. Wireless laptops are nice, but the benefits they provide are inadequate. Hooray, they could prepare for the dissection with their laptops... not such a big deal.
Sprinter99

join:2003-10-10
Grants Pass, OR

actual equality in education?

Who'da thunk it... I think that this is a great step toward providing real world training to our kids and it may just be the best idea to come out of public school since... well God only knows the last time they had a good idea.
I volunteered at a local elementary school with many underprivileged (poor) kids, and I was very disheartened by the sheer number of students who had no PC at home and minimal access at school. I would say over 90% were utterly inept technologically and lacked access to the proper educational tools that would help them learn.
I don't think many people in this forum would argue with me when I say that it is absolutely VITAL for our children to be techno savvy if they want to have the best chance to succeed. Plus if we have an entire generation that is computer literate, we have a much better chance of seeing broadband service expand to every home in our lifetime, and I would venture to say FTTH is not far behind.
In other words this controversial program could actually lead to Americans adopting the PC as an integral part of everyday life instead of just a toy that sits in the office and collects dust except when the kids come home from college. It also attempts to ensure that even the lowest income classes will be wired and have access to the same technological resources that are seemingly frivolous expenses to many low income families.
Although you can lead a horse to water you can't make him drink, but if you ride him hard enough you can sure make him thirsty.

gruggni
Oxygen Gets You High

join:2003-07-28
Corpus Christi, TX

Kids play games

I know a kid who was lent a laptop to help their study. All he does is play games with it. Education software needs to incorporate fun and learning.

The education system needs the money for better teachers and facilities. These days, tvs and computers teach kids, the parents and teachers need to keep in touch with their kids. Giving laptops to kids doesn't solve the problem, it's just another solution, not a real answer. Who needs teachers if the laptop can do it? First TV now laptops, no one learns, just ignoring the failure of our education system, and throwing technology at the problem. The same thing happens with security and technology. Before using technology to help solve the problem, you must first understand the problem.

The education problem remains unsolved.
--
When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.
--Henny Youngman

[text was edited by author 2003-10-15 15:27:12]
Jenna9654

join:2003-04-17
Atlanta, GA

Laptops in Classrooms Do Work

Our school system purchased at least 10 wireless carts for every middle and high school in the district. Each cart holds 15 computers. Previously, we had one open computer lab with 25 computers loaded with windows 95. The other 3 labs are used for business classes. This was for a school with over 1900 students. Time in the open lab was as scarce as a hen's teeth and usually the English department held the lab hostage. Now, we can wheel the computers to our rooms, hook them up and use them. Since the computer labs are mobile instead of stationary, more students per day have access to computers. The computers are loaded with SAT and graduation test software to aid in test preparation. Students that sign an acceptable use policy have access to the internet for research. Also, classroom space is at a premium in most schools and to reserve a room to be occupied solely by desktop computers when wireless laptop carts could fit the bill seems to be a more common sense answer these days.

While you may think this is not a good use of funds, the funding for our computers came from a special option sales tax that was voted on during a special election. The purchase of the laptops was a major part of the initiative. My experience with these carts has been very positive and every cart in our school is used on a daily basis by one teacher or another. There is no move to buy every student in our system a laptop (thank goodness) and most of our teachers would oppose such a purchase considering most of our students can not even keep track of textbooks.


Sarick
It's Only Logical
Premium
join:2003-06-03
USA
Reviews:
·Frontier Communi..

I can see it now.

I remember back in school I knew a lot of kids that where REALLY upset with the teachers.

Some even did nasty stuff to the computers.

With this setup I have a feeling someone is going to create a wireless blaster device.

What I'm talking about is a student that makes or buys a device that DOS attacks the schools wireless network.

It's going to happen, kids call in bomb threats etc.. If schools use these services wireless they are more susceptible to attack. With a wired network devices can be halted because the hookup needs a node.

Wireless networks don't have that, all someone would need to do is make a scrambler that finds the schools frequency and then attempts to flood the wireless channels.

The devices needn't be expensive..

I can pretty much say the same for Hot Spots, but people don't hold grudges against them.
--
Trouble with spelling.. This browser extension changed my internet life. »www.iespell.com (it's really nice!) -Sarick

superdog
I Need A Drink
Premium,MVM
join:2001-07-13
Lebanon, PA

Re: I can see it now.

said by Sarick:
If schools use these services wireless they are more susceptible to attack. With a wired network devices can be halted because the hookup needs a node.

Wireless networks don't have that, all someone would need to do is make a scrambler that finds the schools frequency and then attempts to flood the wireless channels.


Well, sorry, but that information is not correct. WI-FI devices are layer 2, so all they are doing is replacing the wires. With this tech. any type of gateway, radius auth. etc could be installed just like a wired network.
I would agree slightly with You on the second part of Your statement. Wireless networks can be "sniffed out" or found with various programs available on the net. Once the network is found, You will still have to break 128 bit WEP(encryption, not that hard to crack), figure out the ESSID of the radio(Any secure access point has that turned off), and then go thru any type of authentication setup that any "intelligent" Admin. would have in place(RADIUS,MAC auth. etc.). While any of the above steps can be done, the average user hopefully has better things to do?. There are quite a few proprietary radios on the market that avoid a lot of these problems and would keep the schools network secure, lets hope they use them?;)
--
»www.wavecrazy.net

Sarick
It's Only Logical
Premium
join:2003-06-03
USA

Re: I can see it now.

About me being wrong, I never intended my comment to mean break ins. My Comment though it might appear otherwise was surely based on being snuffed out.

Glaice
Brutal Video Vault
Premium
join:2002-10-01
North Babylon, NY

Instead of doing this...

Why not actually improve the quality of the schools that have out of date textbooks, give better pay and maintain schools that need refurnishing? Sounds like a waste of our tax dollars.

I can't wait to see one of those kids get caugh playing CheaterCounter-Strike on the Wi-Fi (unless the wi-fi blocks the required ports).

mymegabyte
Mmm Glue

join:2001-12-09
united state

Re: Instead of doing this...

said by Glaice:

I can't wait to see one of those kids get caugh playing CheaterCounter-Strike on the Wi-Fi (unless the wi-fi blocks the required ports).
The ports won't be blocked... My school district couldn't even keep people from installing HL on school computers, much less the sense to block the ports.

bigdaddy175

join:2003-05-08
Miami, FL

wish they'd do that here..

Damn I wish they'd put wi-fi in just one school down here especially when Florida has some of the largest school districts in the nation. Miami-Dade County Schools now the 4th largest district in the nation and I havent seen a single word about "wi-fi in schools". We barely get to use the computers in our school. They should of put desktops in classrooms years ago. Did that article just say they were giving 130,000 free labtops in Michigan? What are they doing raising the taxes to .40? Now Im not saying this is a bad idea I actually think its a great idea because well.. maybe Im just a tad jellous. Computers are the future and so are todays students.

bigdaddy175

join:2003-05-08
Miami, FL

Tax

And speaking of improving schools most of the tax should go to that. Some of my text books are over 10 years old and some of the pages are missing. Even though Florida has the worst test scores on the FCAT Dade County tops the chart of the failing schools. I agree laptops in school would be so sweet but what about renovating the crumbling old schools a bit and newer text books? Even though my school has around 1500 kids its not really their fault they terrorize the schools (well it is) but its also the County that has delayed planning to renovate our schools for over 30 years now. Besides if kids were to bring labtops to school wouldnt they get stolen or damaged?

Xzibit
Wtf Mate?
Premium
join:2002-04-19
Santa Clara, CA

wow..

My highschool's had wi-fi for about 2 years.

mymegabyte
Mmm Glue

join:2001-12-09
united state

Is this the right way?

I have to admit.. Just having gotten out of the public school system, I don't think this is needed. I am a computer enthusiast to say the least, but I do see this as a bit too extravagant.
I do recognize economic situations of school districts vary greatly from location to location, but I have a feeling some of these areas wanting to implement this are putting money in the wrong places.
In middle school(6-8 grades here) we got our first real experience w/ technology in school. The Math and & science rooms were equipped w/ good, internet connected, computers for every 4-5 people. This opened up so many opportunities.
As soon as I hit high school, this was out the window again. Unless you were in a computer class in a lab, your room only had 1 computer, that was for the teacher.

The money would be much better spent trying to bring desktop computer environments as I described before. OR even one desktop per student.

Now I want to use a current example, I go to University of Texas at Dallas now, and I love the way one of my classes if conducted. The freshman english is done in a small atmosphere, 15 students, 1 TA, and a computer for every person in the room. This has opened up so many opportunities to make the class more interesting, and too draw more interest.
I believe that is the goal these districts should be working towards.

johnt82

join:2002-09-13
Richmond, VA

Just my 2 cents

I might be way off here - but it is my opinion, just an opinion...

In regards to the updated textbooks - I agree, however let us look at the costs of printed textbooks that often get lost, go out of date, or are abused. Now compare that to the cost of an e-text book. You could update the textbooks every year....

Also - there is the aspect of leveling the playing field. You have lower income students that do not have access to computers and/or the internet. Yes, yes - I know that we didn't either when we were in grade school BUT the point of the matter is that the internet is here AND it CAN be a VERY useful educational tool when used correctly. By giving all students access to these tools you give them all an equal chance of reaching their potential. You know the old have vs. have not argument. Well, now they all have.

Also - here in Henrico County, VA anyways - Apple worked out a GREAT deal with the county school system for iMac and iBook equipment. I know that the main reason is to develop a core base of kids growing up with MAC's and thus building a market base - but if that also means that these same kids get an educational boon, so be it.

There are other things as well - but like I said these are only my humble opinions.

Back to work for me...