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Education Government

White House Calls On Kids To Film High-Tech Education 95

Posted by samzenpus
from the lights-camera-learn dept.
theodp writes "Over at WhiteHouse.gov, Bill Nye has issued a call for entries for the first-ever White House Student Film Festival, a video contest for K-12 students, whose finalists will have their short films shown at the White House. From the website: "The President has an assignment for you: Our schools are more high-tech than ever. There are laptops in nearly every classroom. You can take an online course on Japanese — and then video chat with a kid from Japan. You can learn about geometry through an app on your iPad. So, what does it all mean? We're looking for videos that highlight the power of technology in schools. Your film should address at least one of the following themes: 1. How you currently use technology in your classroom or school. 2. The role technology will play in education in the future."
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White House Calls On Kids To Film High-Tech Education

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  • I'm torn (Score:3, Funny)

    by mutube (981006) on Sunday December 01, 2013 @02:58PM (#45569537) Homepage

    Competition is good but if the government is doing it this must be socialism.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Competition is good but if the government is doing it this must be socialism.

      Not quite, for this is lacking the manipulative brainwashing element of organized religion.

      And since Bill Nye is involved, hopefully it'll stay that way.

    • I'm sort of wondering what the overall purpose in this competition is. Does the white house want to prove how "good" our education system is? Or is the goal to improve it by trying to get more students into filmography?

      Neither of those seems terribly effective. Our education system isn't really that great, and I don't know about anybody else, but from where I sit there doesn't seem to be high prospects of growth in the film industry (it's sort of a saturated market, and quite often people spend more money o

      • I think the goal is to get kids excited about being educated, because kids who are excited about school tend to stay in it longer and get more out of it.

        I also think that given them a goal - explaining what they do for a film festival - is a good application to focus their efforts. I'm sure you meant "application" in terms of "job training" but, for those kids doing the filming and editing, it might be job training. For the others, they still have 4-12 years to take care of that.

      • by SuperKendall (25149) on Sunday December 01, 2013 @05:28PM (#45570413)

        I'm sort of wondering what the overall purpose in this competition is.

        The government has no idea what to do with technology in schools. They are hoping kids can figure out some use for it and show them.

      • by anegg (1390659)

        I share your wonderment about what the overall purpose of the competition might be. The results will be anecdotal at best, which is not something to base policy upon.

        The cynical side of me thinks that these submissions will be used to justify spending on "technology" for education. It seems to be a long-standing yet not necessarily proven meme that using technology in education will make education "better" (cheaper, more effective, etc.). I haven't seen much in the way of a cost/benefit analysis that wo

    • if the government is doing it this must be socialism.

      You misspelled "propaganda".

    • Competition is good but if the government is doing it this must be socialism.

      Since the private sector only looks to monetize every possible event, profiting from the kids, it is about time that a "foss" approach to challenging youngsters is given. The stimulus will actually help to raise the average level of education, which from the last statistics was quite far down from the top.

      Socialist Canada's kids on the same tests, did better and the statistics say that on the average, Canadian kids are better educated than Americans. In regards to smartness (IQ), one group has exclusivity

  • by areusche (1297613) on Sunday December 01, 2013 @02:59PM (#45569547)
    Some group of kids should get together and do a film on biometrics and RFID tracking. Call it, "getting ready for the future of safety!"
  • by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Sunday December 01, 2013 @03:07PM (#45569589)

    There were high-school computer classes already in the 1982. I know, I attended them. Now, more than thirty years later, with the advent of the internet on top it, schools and politicians still speak of computers as high-tech? In my world they're commodities.

    • by Sperbels (1008585)
      No kidding. Video chat? That's been available to the average PC user for over 10 years. What kids should be doing right now is interfacing their PCs and microcontrollers with the real world: Making robots, drones, 3D printers, automated beer brewing systems, fabricating their own parts, etc. The information on how to do these things is all over the internet. It's easier now than it ever was.
      • That assumes they can spend any time at school doing anything besides preparing for their next standardized test, and have access to resources at home to accomplish these things. And that they like tinkering with stuff, too, which probably means that we need to get their parents to like it so they'll instill it in their kids.

    • by sir-gold (949031)

      In some schools, it's still 1982....

      When I graduated HS in 1997, they were still using Apple II computers to teach typing class. That would have made a great video, a bunch of students using computers that are almost as old as they are.

      We also had a "modern" IBM PC network lab, using diskless IBM PS/2 model 30s (8088 cpu) with IBM classroom-lan on a 386-based server.

      • We also had a "modern" IBM PC network lab, using diskless IBM PS/2 model 30s (8088 cpu) with IBM classroom-lan on a 386-based server.

        Ay and we were grateful. In my school, they cut us in two wit' a bread knife...

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      when I was in high school the place was loaded with computers, you were not allowed to do anything with them but they were there collecting dust and acting as jewelry

      that was in the 90's

    • by Seumas (6865)

      More importantly, why are we wasting time and resources asking children to propagandize implementations of technology in education for the sake of it rather than worrying about the quality of education, itself? If technology itself somehow inherently improved education, you wouldn't need to promote it. Steve Jobs understood this ages ago.

      I used to think that technology could help education. I’ve probably spearheaded giving away more computer equipment to schools than anybody else on the planet. But I

      • More importantly, why are we wasting time and resources asking children to propagandize implementations of technology in education for the sake of it rather than worrying about the quality of education, itself?

        Because kids who are excited about their own education can get more out of it, regardless of school condition, than those who are just passing time until 4 PM. Hands-on applications like these with a deadline and goal help build that excitement.

        But if you think getting kids excited about learning is a waste of time and resources, there's little point in trying to improve the quality of an education that the kids won't care to learn.

        • by Seumas (6865)

          This is about getting kids excited about making a video.

          • ....a video about ways they learn at school. Though, honestly, getting kids excited about anything intellectually challenging is a success.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The people that think technology is the problem with our schools aren't addressing the real problem: The fact that our culture is anti-learning, anti-education, pro-sky-fairies and anti-critical thinking. You need to get kids to enjoy learning, get them reading and writing, then get them to learn to think rationally and analyze things critically. Without learning the scientific method and a disciplined approach to problem solving, at best our schools will be producing burger-flippers and some astonishingly

    • by Anonymous Coward

      As a follow-up, children need to keep an open mind, but not so open that their brains fall out. Society appears to be more tolerant of differing belief systems than it was in the past, which is good. The bad part about it is when people come to believe that every viewpoint, every side of a discussion is equally valid. Sometimes it isn't, sometimes it isn't. One needs to apply those critical thinking skills, do some research, and perhaps perform some experiments on their own before agreeing to accept someone

    • by 0123456 (636235) on Sunday December 01, 2013 @04:35PM (#45570131)

      The people that think technology is the problem with our schools aren't addressing the real problem: The fact that our culture is anti-learning, anti-education, pro-sky-fairies and anti-critical thinking.

      Well, yes. But that's compulsory schooling for you. Kids are forced to sit in boring classrooms for the best part of twenty years being indoctrinated by left-wing, unionised government employees so they'll vote for left-wing governments who'll demand higher taxes to pay teachers more.

      You need to get kids to enjoy learning, get them reading and writing, then get them to learn to think rationally and analyze things critically.

      Kids naturally enjoy learning and want to learn as much as possible. Takes years of teaching to beat that out of them.

      What these people really don't want to hear is that 'high tech' is making schools themselves irrelevant when a kid who can read can find just about any information they want either online or in a good library.

    • The people that think technology is the problem with our schools aren't addressing the real problem: The fact that our culture is anti-learning, anti-education, pro-sky-fairies and anti-critical thinking. You need to get kids to enjoy learning...

      ...like by having a focused, deadline- and goal-driven event to get them excited about things that they do at school. Let's have a film festival and get the students to film themselves showing off something that their schools are doing, unrelated to sports.

  • by khallow (566160) on Sunday December 01, 2013 @03:10PM (#45569621)
    I wonder how many of the subsequent examples will turn out to be shams. It has to be possible for technology to help education. For example, I routinely interact online with people from the rest of the world. But in practice, I've had mostly negative experiences with technology in the classroom.

    The positive experiences I recall: displaying complex data like charts and such and enabling a professor bound to a wheelchair to project their written words on a screen (both which incidentally could be done with an overhead projector). I've also had some positive experiences with remote teaching and computer lab classrooms which are oriented around study of particular software.

    The rest just seems like a very expensive way to implement cheap technologies that already work. It's a way to turn a thousand dollar blackboard into a ten thousand dollar blackboard.
    • I learned more in my middle school shop class than I did in my "technology" class. Technology changed so fast that what I learned 20 years ago is utterly useless today. The lessons I got from shop class, though, are timeless: Always wear safety goggles. Always keep your eye on the saw. Measure twice, cut once. Work on big projects in pairs - a second pair of eyes will make you more productive AND safer. And most importantly, don't use flammable paint on your rocket!
      • I learned more in shop (9th grade) than in my first few computer classes (6th and 8th grades) as well, but that's in part because I was already programming before I took those computer classes. Honestly I didn't learn much in my first computer science class either (9th grade) but did in my second year, especially because I was competing for the school in programming competitions, learning how to quickly grasp requirements, break them down into known parts, and implement those parts logically. That sort of

  • Perhaps some budding Michael Moore [michaelmoore.com] might want to contrast the technology available [sidwell.edu] to the President's kids at the $35,288-a-year Sidwell Friends School ("The number one blessing for this [iMovie] project [blogspot.com] was the delivery of noise-cancelling headphones for each child") to the tech available at rural Appalachia schools [npr.org] (avg. family income $40,000). Sidwell Friends is also living-the-cyberlife as a charter member of the elite Global Online Academy [globalonlineacademy.org], which boasts that "classmates in Washington, D.C. $35,288 [sidwell.edu], and

    • by jcr (53032)

      Of all the things there are to blame Obama for, sending his kids to a private school is not one of them. His kids are not public property, and his duty as a parent is to get them the best education he can afford.

      That being said, he's a flaming asshole for throwing his weight into killing DC's voucher program. [newsmax.com]

      -jcr

      • by ganjadude (952775)
        I have no issue with him sending his kids to private schools. But I think there is a good argument for sending them to the same schools he wants the rest of us to go to. He works for us, he is not a king, and he should send his kids to the same schools that he believes that we should be forced to go to by doing as you said, killing the voucher program
        • by femtobyte (710429)

          For the president's kids, certain logistical considerations make this nigh impossible. Consider that those kids are way up near the top of the list as the world's juiciest kidnap/assassination/crazy-whackjob-murder targets. If I had kids, I wouldn't want them to be going to the same public school as the president's, because any such school would necessarily need to be utterly isolated and cut off from the outside world, under constant heavy guard and severely restricted access.

          I do certainly favor the gener

        • As another commenter says, I agree with you in principle. If I believe in the public school system, I should send my kids to it. And I will at least in part, tempered to compromise with my wife who found one of her life's passions (music) at a Montessori elementary school before she switched to public schools, too.

          But I'm not POTUS. My kids are anonymous. I wouldn't want my kids to be at a school that is itself a terrorist target due to the presence of the POTUS' kids.

      • Of all the things there are to blame Obama for, sending his kids to a private school is not one of them.

        Actually it is.

        DC had an awesome voucher program going, that helped poor kids attend good schools.

        When Obama came in, he nixed it.

        So his kids should attend the same schools he made the poor kids attend when they didn't have to.

    • by Monsuco (998964)

      Perhaps some budding Michael Moore [michaelmoore.com] might want to contrast the technology available [sidwell.edu] to the President's kids at the $35,288-a-year Sidwell Friends School ("The number one blessing for this [iMovie] project [blogspot.com] was the delivery of noise-cancelling headphones for each child") to the tech available at rural Appalachia schools [npr.org] (avg. family income $40,000). Sidwell Friends is also living-the-cyberlife as a charter member of the elite Global Online Academy [globalonlineacademy.org], which boasts that "classmates in Washington, D.C. $35,288 [sidwell.edu], and San Francisco $38,900 [harker.org] work on projects with peers in Madaba-Manja, Jordan $38,272 [kingsacademy.edu.jo], and Portland, Oregon $25,850 [catlin.edu]. Students in Hawaii $19,950 [punahou.edu] (President Obama's alma mater) and Chicago $29,985 [latinschool.org] discuss global health issues with students in New York $40,220 [dalton.org], Seattle $28,500 [lakesideschool.org] (Bill Gates' alma mater), Boston $46,700 [nobles.edu], and Jakarta, Indonesia $30,200 [jisedu.or.id]."

      And what would the message of this movie be? "America has expensive but fancy private schools"? I think we already knew that. Yeah, if you're willing to shell out some coin, you can indeed buy a great education for your kid. So what? With more money you can also buy better healthcare, go to better colleges, eat at better restaurants, drive safer cars and live in better houses located in better neighborhoods.

  • by Nyder (754090) on Sunday December 01, 2013 @03:42PM (#45569809) Journal

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/us-education-spending-tops-global-list-study-shows/ [cbsnews.com]

    While the USA spends more on education, we still aren't learning better then anyone else.

    Funny how Lincoln educated himself with a piece of coal and a shovel to write on (according to stories I was told in school), yet today kids have to have an tablet to learn?

    Maybe the kids could do a high tech film about how throwing money at technology doesn't actually improve education.

    • by binarstu (720435)

      Maybe the kids could do a high tech film about how throwing money at technology doesn't actually improve education.

      Exactly what I was thinking.

      There is a general feeling in the U.S. that public schools are failing (regardless of whether that opinion is justified). It seems to me that buying more technology is the lazy administrator's way of "doing something about it." Purchasing technology also provides a convenient measure of progress, however dubious. Administrators can brag about how they are providing every student with an iPad, or putting smart boards in every classroom, or whatever the current fad is, and cla

      • I agree that, for many students, whatever toys they get in 9th grade might be too late. I don't think that this is just due to the public school system, though. Kids need to enter elementary school intellectually curious and wanting to learn. For some, that's a genetic certainty. For others, though, it may take hard work on the part of their parents (or extended family, not that those exist to the extent they used to). How do we fix this? Do we have the money to train new parents on how to prepare the

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by femtobyte (710429)

      The US has to spend more on education because it spends so much less on providing a decent quality of life for overwhelming numbers of children outside school. Lack of living wage and labor protections, along with a generally terrible social safety net and public commons, means that millions of kids arrive at the school door in no condition to learn. When you can't afford nutritious meals at home, regular healthcare, or a clean and calm environment to sleep in, or access to extra-curricular educational and

      • by sumdumass (711423)

        Yes, because Hungary, Slovenia, Estonia, Czech Republic, and China (Hong Kong) are all known to have higher standards of living then the regular Joe's in the US.

        Perhaps there is something else involved like the family units or even cultures in some US areas or even among certain people?

        • by femtobyte (710429)

          Family social conditions are certainly a big part of this --- and the US ultra-Capitalist system has been extremely destructive of family structures compared to more civilized countries. Forcing parents to work multiple minimum-wage jobs, with ever-changing erratic hours, does not permit for a stable family life --- you're not at home with the kids when you're working 80 hours a week to keep a home. Nor does the US global-chart-topping incarceration rate, for minor or non-existing offenses, which results in

          • by sumdumass (711423)

            Not to mention the safety nets encourage single parent families by doling out benefits disproportionatly for single parents verses families. This is even true with the ACA where people claimed they are considering a divorce because their combined income as a family did not qualify for federal subsidies where theirr indevidual incomes did. Then there is the trophy culture of some who think the number of kids you claim means you are a man verses raising them like men traditionally had to.

            I know you are workin

  • by MacTO (1161105) on Sunday December 01, 2013 @06:35PM (#45570803)

    Seriously. Even though I'm sure there are some great uses of technology in schools today, the education systems that I have worked with made two critical mistakes.

    1. Deciding that technology should be integrated into the classroom, rather than being a dedicated subject. In theory, this sounds great. In practice, very few teachers have computer skills beyond word processing and web browsing. This means that kids are typically exposed to computers as writing and research tools, but little else within the core curriculum.

    2. Promoting a philosophy that kids know more and are more adaptable to emerging technologies. This is only true because schools are unwilling to hire people with the skills necessary to teach courses using the contemporary tools. Even then a teacher with a couple of hours of professional development will have more computer skills than most children because adults have a nasty tendency to confuse seat time with proficiency.

    Don't get me wrong. I'm confident that some great videos will come out of this competition. There are excellent teachers and teachers who excel at integrating technology into the curriculum. But I would not take these videos as representing the norm. They are actually representing an idea.

  • Mr. Nye, we are not your (government's) employees, nor do we donate our labors to the government. If you want multimedia records of our children's excitement about their technical education, go out there and record it yourself, on your own dime. Our children are not your property, and they do not take orders from you.

    The #1 lesson in "good citizenship" you seem to treasure for our children, is how to say "piss off" to self-important government bureaucrats.

    Piss off.

    Sincerely,
    ChipMonk
  • WRONG SOLUTION (Score:3, Insightful)

    by litehacksaur111 (2895607) on Sunday December 01, 2013 @07:21PM (#45571059)
    Technology is not going to fix the problem of parents not being involved in their children's education. People learned how to spell and add numbers before there were computers, tablets, Ipads, etc. Somehow everyone thinks that spending more on technology or blaming teachers in going to fix education. The problem begins and ends at home with the parents getting involved in their kids education to motivate them to learn. One of my favorite quotes regarding this is "The man who learns only when and what he is taught in school has truly learning nothing at all." The main problem with education is motivating students and that cannot be solved with teachers, small class sizes, or technology. END RANT
    • Technology is a solution that liberals love to apply to education for three reasons. First, it's high tech and anything tech related in education makes the person who suggested it look smart. Second, it distracts attention from the unholy alliance that exists between the teachers' unions and the Democratic Party by suggesting that the problem is not poor teaching but rather "low technology" in the classroom. Third and finally, it provides a target at which to throw money which is a favorite liberal "solutio
      • What does this have to do with liberals? I consider myself left of center and I have clearly stated that technology is not a solution. My wife is a teacher with a masters degree and she makes $42K. That is not an obscene pay. Somehow you managed to turn this into an argument to bash teachers, liberals, and unions - none of which are responsible for this. I live in Georgia which is a dead-red state where there no teachers unions, yet technology is being forced on the schools by private companies looking to s
        • What does this have to do with liberals?

          Education has been a battle ground in the culture wars for decades in the United States, especially in California where education and government policy regarding it has been the source of much strife between those who favor parental choice and private education and those who favor government control, higher taxes and limitation of private options. In California we spend over half of the entire annual budget on education and hardly an election goes by without school bond measures and other education related

      • by Monsuco (998964)

        Technology is a solution that liberals love to apply to education for three reasons. First, it's high tech and anything tech related in education makes the person who suggested it look smart. Second, it distracts attention from the unholy alliance that exists between the teachers' unions and the Democratic Party by suggesting that the problem is not poor teaching but rather "low technology" in the classroom. Third and finally, it provides a target at which to throw money which is a favorite liberal "solution" to any problem, never mind the outcomes because it's the good thoughts and intentions, not results, that count.

        Actually, most teacher's unions would just prefer the money be spent on hiring more teachers. Regardless of what class sizes actually are (and regardless of all the evidence that suggest class size isn't all that important relative to other factors), a union's top priority will generally be to ensure more money is spent on its rank and file.

        While unions are a huge problem in our public education system, they are far from being the only problem.

        • Actually, most teacher's unions would just prefer the money be spent on hiring more teachers.

          Yes, that's true but more education spending is always desirable from the liberal point of view, even if it's earmarked and cannot be used to hire more teachers, because spending begets more spending and larger budgets in future years which translates into more political power for their constituencies, namely the teachers unions and their fellow travelers in the Democratic Party.

    • by Monsuco (998964)

      Technology is not going to fix the problem of parents not being involved in their children's education.

      There is no public policy remedy for a lack of parental involvement. Public policy can change the way in which we hire and fire teachers. Public policy can set curriculum and determine what sort of things we test for. The sort of technology schools purchase can be set by public policy. You can blame the parents all you want, but that will never accomplish anything since it is outside the realm of problems that are solvable.

One possible reason that things aren't going according to plan is that there never was a plan in the first place.

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