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Education is a passion of Gates', and he has some ideas on how to make it better, but throwing tablets into the hands of students apparently isn't one of them

Microsoft may be looking to take the tablet market head on with its Surface initiative, but there’s one area where Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates thinks that these devices don’t make much sense: classrooms.

Gates participated in an interview with The Chronicle of Higher Education recently where he gave his opinions on technology used in the classroom, and what needs to be done to help students stay interested in school.

Gates heads the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which aims to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology among other efforts. Education is a passion of Gates', and he has some ideas on how to make it better, but throwing tablets into the hands of students apparently isn't one of them.

"Just giving people devices, that has a really terrible track record," said Gates. "You really have to change the curriculum and the teacher and those things, and it's never going to work on a device where you don't have keyboard-type input. I mean, students aren't there just to read things -- they're supposed to actually be able to write and communicate, and so this is a lot more in the PC realm."

According to Gates, a low-cost PC is the best device for engaging students because it is a more interactive experience.
In addition to issues with tablets being thrown around in schools, Gates mentioned other problems like the high cost of education and selective admissions. He also mentioned that using technology to step out of the classroom, yet still have that classroom interaction, would be a great step toward increasing graduation rates.

"If the kids don't have to come to the campus quite as often, that would be good," said Gates. "But then what's the element that technology can't deliver? And it's through that that I really have developed a lot of optimism that we can build a hybrid. Something that's not purely digital but also that the efficiency of the face-to-face time is much greater. Where you take the kid who's demotivated or confused, or where something needs to be a group collaboration as opposed to the lecture."

Cost breakdown of iPads vs. textbooks [Source: San Jose Mercury News]

Gates' comments come at an interesting time. Just yesterday, it was reported that the Unified School District in San Diego, California had purchased nearly 26,000 iPads for its K-12 students. The district paid $15 million for the 26,000 iPads, which will be used in 340 classrooms, through Proposition S funding. This measure offers money for enhanced classroom technology.

The students in the Unified School District will be using apps like iBooks, which provides students with textbooks on the iPad as well as new study options like note taking. Most books in iBooks 2, which was released in January of this year, are at the high school level and started off at $14.99 or less. The app also offers books from well-known publishers like Pearson, McGraw Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which combined make up 90 percent of textbooks available. 

In addition to iPad deployment, many tech companies are releasing new tablets soon, including Gates' company Microsoft. It's funny that Gates should mention the need for keyboard-type input on devices for students, since Microsoft is on the verge of releasing its Surface Windows 8 tablet with keyboard support. The 10.6-inch tablet comes with a 3 mm fold out keyboard that doubles as a case, and it contains a trackpad. The keyboard also has a multi-touch surface and features "digital ink," which is a pen-input technology that samples at 600 dpi.

For more on Gates' opinions concerning tablets in the classroom, check out the following video:

Sources: The Chronicle, The Verge

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By GotThumbs on 6/27/2012 10:47:28 AM , Rating: 5
This is just the reason California is broke. They are spending millions of dollars on these....what about the additional costs of buying books?

I calculated a cost of 577 for each tablet. Not a very good deal when you have to factor the additional cost of books and accessories. BTW... Is Apple still getting its 30% share from the sales? I'm amazed that one company has gained so much control. Where is the DOJ on the fact that Apple runs such a closed system. You cannot load content on an IProduct without using Apples systems. They need to open it up to others or face legal woes. MS was sued just for having IE embedded in windows....when MS NEVER prevented users from installing and using other browsers. Try using your Iproduct with software other than Apples. You can't

I wonder how long these tablets will survive?

By GotThumbs on 6/27/2012 10:49:56 AM , Rating: 3
By sales I mean any content purchased through its portals...ITunes, APP store or whatever they call it.

By Brandon Hill on 6/27/2012 10:52:37 AM , Rating: 3
Check out this graphic from San Jose Mercury News:

I'll include it in the article

By MrBlastman on 6/27/2012 11:19:29 AM , Rating: 1
Total absurdity. It must be great that they can afford such luxury in California. Oh, wait, they can't! At least, not all of them...

Looks like Stockton is going outta business, well, declaring bankruptcy. I'd hate to be one of the bondholders there.

Hmm, yeah, frivolity--a great thing, right?

By Akrovah on 6/27/2012 12:50:45 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah well, speaking as a Californian, we all pretty much agree that Stockton should be wiped off the map. It was a dirty cespool long before the economy collapsed.

And San Diego's spending on these doesn't appear to be comming form the state at large, but from bonds that the city of San Diego is selling specifically to fund school improvement.

By MrBlastman on 6/27/2012 1:29:31 PM , Rating: 2
You'd have to be insane to buy a school bond for the purpose of purchasing "i" products. I predict a ratings downgrade sometime in the future.

By Akrovah on 6/29/2012 6:47:15 PM , Rating: 2
True that.

By NellyFromMA on 6/27/2012 4:05:06 PM , Rating: 2
Some have said the same about California as a whole.

By Akrovah on 6/29/2012 6:49:24 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know about Dirty Cespool as a whole, but we are driving ourselves into the ground pretty damned rapidly.

By Gungel on 6/27/2012 11:23:54 AM , Rating: 2
On top of the higher cost they will have to continue to buy certain text books and work books. So the iPad scenario will cost the school even more. I highly doubt that any iPad will last for 6 years, that is another big drawback if they have to replace them after 3 years. And one more thing, the parents have to purchase an insurance coverage for each iPad which also is a burden to some families.

I'm happy that our school district vote the purchase of iPads down. It was not even close with 66.15% no votes.

By chmilz on 6/27/2012 11:33:21 AM , Rating: 2
Also factor in:

a) theft of iPads (not many people steal textbooks)
b) power - how much power is needed to charge 26,000 iPads every 2 days?
c) breakage - screens and ports are easily damaged

I predict they'll look back on this in a couple years and realize it was a massive money pit with little to no benefit.

By Brandon Hill on 6/27/2012 11:40:02 AM , Rating: 4
b) it costs $1.36 to charge one iPad for a year

By NellyFromMA on 6/27/2012 4:05:54 PM , Rating: 2
lol interesting stat. not sure why you were downrated for providing it though.

By Manch on 6/28/2012 6:42:56 AM , Rating: 2
so for 26K ipads it will cost $35,360.00 a year to charge them.

for an infinite amount of books tho, it cost $0.00 to charge them.

By amanojaku on 6/27/2012 12:05:32 PM , Rating: 3
Bond supporter John Bistoff, a father of a 9-year-old son at Springfield Plains Elementary, said, “It didn't go down by a slim margin. It went down significantly.”

“I am absolutely demoralized. I am really appalled. It almost makes me cry. It really does. But I'm biased because I have a little guy in the school system,” he said. “We're not giving them the educational tools they need to compete in the future with people from school districts who are willing to ante up more to give their kids the best education they can.”
This guy is delusional. My high school made us do calculus by hand, no calculators. We had to go to the library and read books and newspapers for research. We had 60-page reports that included interviews. We learned to be independent and self-sufficient, back when computers were still a luxury. I guess I was abused?
Independence Township resident Dawn Schaller said she has never voted “no” on a school bond proposal - until Tuesday, that is.

“Clarkston Community Schools has too much debt. The best thing we can do for the kids is to teach them that you don't borrow money for technology that is obsolete in 24 to 36 months. You live within your means,” said Schaller.
This woman has a brain.
Larry Matta, who voted against the bond, said he thinks so many people showed up at the polls because they were informed about the proposal.

Matta said he thinks the board needs to “reorder priorities.”

“I think, first of all, kids have to feel safe in their environment so they can focus on learning,” said Matta. “They won't be able to give every student an iPad or netbook, but they can certainly go wireless, upgrade equipment and do maintenance and repair.”
So does this guy.

By 3minence on 6/27/2012 12:59:28 PM , Rating: 1
My high school made us do calculus by hand, no calculators. We had to go to the library and read books and newspapers for research. We had 60-page reports that included interviews.
My wife is getting her PhD and she doesn't go to the library, she brings the library to her curtesty of the internet. She searches for and reads scientific journals that are now online. She uses statistics programs and GIS software rather than doing calculas by hand. The iPad is very useful to her as she lays in bed at night reading. Go back to the good old days when computers were a luxury? No thanks.

A tablet CAN BE an asset to learning IF it is used right. However, I doubt buying iPads for grade school kids is going to work. Bill Gates is right, you need to change curriculum and things like that. And I also agree that a state with so much debt really needs to quit spending money on questionable things like this.

By nofear4COMment on 6/27/2012 4:58:11 PM , Rating: 2
You are ridiculous, we are talking about grades school here. You are talking about at different classes, her profession we don't care she makes enough money and she able afford one. For Grades school kids not deserve to have luxury device, you should have young kids by now and they don't know to care of their shit but school property this stuff evolve lots more. This device like Mr. Gates stated and it cost significant higher, damages, software purchase...etc. A CrApple have huge benefit for this for many years to come. This device is should not be cost this much anyway.

By nofear4COMment on 6/27/2012 5:16:57 PM , Rating: 2
This device cost crazy high and without any discount. if Apple did not discount their crappy device at all, so my opinion is Apple was not support community and it is a 10th scale in greediness.

By Kiffberet on 6/28/2012 9:32:31 AM , Rating: 2
Your grammar is terrible!

I wager you learnt to write on an iPad...

By nofear4COMment on 6/27/2012 5:05:49 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry 3minence, I jumped on conclusion too fast i did not read your last paragraph.

By JediJeb on 6/27/2012 5:13:17 PM , Rating: 3
Yes it is nice to have the advantage of computers and the internet that I didn't have when I was in school. But what happens when people depend solely on those things and then have an emergency when they do not have access to them?

My high school physics teacher taught us to do the work by hand, and by using a slide rule before letting us use a calculator, simply so that we would know what was taking place behind all the technology. I know people who will blindly punch numbers into a calculator and take the result as a solid fact even when it could not possibly make sense because they do not know how to even estimate what it should be in their heads. We had a result in the laboratory we caught in the QC process where a tech reported that something was 500% pure. He messed up putting numbers into a calculator and simply trusted it would give him the right answer, when it was obvious to anyone who could do the work in their head that it was completely wrong.

So yes, it is good to have technology, but if we are not teaching people what goes on behind the tech, what will happen once the tech breaks, or there is an internet outage or power outage? Work comes to a standstill and mistakes are not caught. One good sized solar flare could knock out the power for a good portion of the country at one time for several days or weeks, I hope we have a few people who can keep things running without needing computers or the internet. Heck I am trying to use my calculator and computer less at work simply because I find myself loosing the ability to do even simple math in my head easily, but once I begin doing it more it comes much more easily.

By nofear4COMment on 6/27/2012 5:27:51 PM , Rating: 2
Go to visit near by library or internet cafe or ask people or at least among his/her friends should have this stupid device and use magic word "PLEASE" eg. Please, May I use your device to search for....? Hello...

By jimbojimbo on 6/28/2012 3:51:55 PM , Rating: 2
I'm glad she's getting her PHD since it'll make up for your stupidity.

So do you really think getting a PHD candidate is the same as a 5th grader? If so, you good man are a sure fire PHD candidate.

By Autisticgramma on 6/27/2012 4:43:09 PM , Rating: 2
YES! amanojaku nailed it.

iPad deployments are what happens when a trendy administrator is dying for a 'magic bullet.'

You'd get more giving one to the kids who could show competency in core curriculum.

Motivation, and extra apple $tore robbery handled. Since you know, they're already paid for.

By bah12 on 6/27/2012 12:27:21 PM , Rating: 2
Question, would that graphic be correct if they iBook was purchased on one AppleID. Say the school has 1 id and it as an entity buys the iBook. Every device on that account would then have access to that book.

I'm sure somewhere in the Apple's terms this would be an issue, but on the surface it seems one book could be purchased for hundreds of students.

By Scott66 on 6/27/2012 5:10:04 PM , Rating: 3
Maybe you should have checked the recent article on AT re San Diego School division purchase. iPad cost them under $380 and a good case an additional $40. Makes the price comparison a lot closer

By jimbojimbo on 6/28/2012 3:54:08 PM , Rating: 2
If you do the math they paid $570 per iPad and whatever accessories they got with it. It's either we all believe that or they paid $420 for them and someone pocketed $500,000 or so themselves.

By mckinney on 6/27/2012 5:11:56 PM , Rating: 2
According to your graphic, (and to get back on track) Bill Gates appears to be wrong. Even by replacing the Ipad with a low cost Laptop, the cost is much higher almost as much as the price of the hardware itself.

Why does the school have to buy digital books every year for six years? Once they buy them, dont they own them?

By nikon133 on 6/27/2012 7:42:33 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, but students will still need a PC to write their assignments... well, anything with more than couple of sentences. Tablets are just not good enough for writing - typing is hard for anything longer than a few sentences, and word processors are basic. Can you do formulas on iPad/Android tablet word processors, for example? Complex tables?

In addition, tablets have limited storage. Whatever version of iPad they are getting, they are much more likely to hit the storage limit compared to a computer, even a puny netbook. What happens then? Deleting your old papers/assignments, or backing them up to a computer? You need computer again.

I agree that tablet is more comfortable for reading all sort of ebooks, compared to laptop, but it is only matter of comfort, not functionality. On the other hand, laptop does things that tablet simply cannot - so it is matter of functionality, not just comfort.

If I'd to carry only one device to college, it would have to be laptop. I'd probably go for smaller one - 13" maybe. Portable enough and big enough, without any serious sacrifices.

By Ammohunt on 6/27/2012 12:26:55 PM , Rating: 3
I wonder how long these tablets will survive?

Don't know about you but the books i used in Junior high and high school were at least 6-10 years old. Topics like Algebra just just doesn't change much in that time frame to warrant an e-book. Will an ipad last 10 years? will the ipad technology be relevant in 10 years? these things will have to be locked down so tight as to make them little more than e-readers. Who is going to maintain all these ipads? when they get broken hack or otherwise destroyed. Another dumb idea from the dumbasses in California.

By AssBall on 6/27/2012 1:24:19 PM , Rating: 2
This is so true. What kind of crap are highschool students needing to learn that only works on a f-ing ipad. We used the same recycled books.

Geography might change a little, current events for social studies might change a little, but standard history, math, basic sciences don't change in ten years.

And the biggest problem is that half the high school kids I meet are semi illiterate and can't divide 99 by 9 in their heads, but they can tell you how to beat Angry Birds and post drivel to Facebook.

Lets get a little bit back to basics in schools, shall we? It is not only cheaper, but it is a better education.

By TSS on 6/27/2012 4:52:01 PM , Rating: 1
These are all very easy to awnser questions.

Will an ipad last 10 years?

No. It may survive that long under regular use, but not under regular use by high school kids. Remember how you used to treat your rugsack the second you didn't need it?

will the ipad technology be relevant in 10 years?

Ipad 1: april 2010
Ipad 2: march 2011
Ipad 3: march 2012

These ipads won't even be relevant *next* year.

Who is going to maintain all these ipads?

The schools IT department, which will never do this effectively since these things aren't designed to be operated on a network with restrictions for students to make sure they do not infect the schools network with viruses. How do i know this? Just look at the damn thing. And that's assuming the IT deparment actually knows what their doing. Also these things aren't designed to be maintained. Their designed to be sent back to apple at a premium to get it repaired.

I don't have anything against tablets replacing books eventually to study. The point is i'd want the tablet specifically designed for education. First thing, no internet capabilities. Everything has to be put on there manually by USB stick. Because you only have to put all the books on there at once and it's supposed to replace a BOOK. They don't have a wifi connection either.

The point is you want a book that can play back video and audio, because if you can hear and see something you're much more likely to retain the information then when you just read it (i remember seeing a video on this in highschool (hah), you retain 20% of what you read but 70% of what you hear and 80% of what you see). It would actually enhance learning. You just have to make sure that no idiotic videos get on there.

What really has happened here, is Indoctrination. You're giving kids at a young age apple so they will grow up using apple. The reason i don't use linux is because i grew up with windows (i'm a gamer, sorry). I simply can't figure it out because everything i learned all these years works differently. It's not that i can't learn new things, it's that it's hard to forget old things.

These Ipads are ment for 1 thing and 1 thing only: To teach these children Apple.

By NellyFromMA on 6/27/2012 4:04:39 PM , Rating: 2
Bill Gates is spot on with this one. It's about the overall approach and execution of our education system. Simply throwing iPads or other consumer tech toys at the problem isn't going to solve the problem. It might get non-union elected education personnel re-hired though.

By Solandri on 6/27/2012 7:38:00 PM , Rating: 2
I calculated a cost of 577 for each tablet.

According to the fine print on the graphic, school policy is to replace technology hardware after 4 years. Since the cost calculation was done over 6 years, they factored in 1.5x the cost of an iPad (one 4-year term, and half of a second 4-year term).

So that works out to $385 per iPad, assuming it's worthless after 4 years (dunno if they have a used computer sale policy or something). That's consistent with the educational pricing I've seen from Apple.

Not saying this is a good idea. I think it's a terrible idea (why in the world would you want to replace cheap textbooks which you use for 6 years with expensive tablets you use for just 4?). But just pointing out that the tablet cost is actually pretty good compared to retail.

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