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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 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.

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