Wired Versus Wireless,
section 3 of 3
and a wireless network provide the most access and flexibility for
learners. For renovation projects, particularly in cities with high labor
costs, laptops and a wireless network will be more economical as well. For
new construction, a hard-wired network with desktop computers is currently
the most economical installation, and affords greater bandwidth for large
on the future costs and bandwidth capabilities for wireless networks is inconclusive. Prakash Nair feels confident that within two or
both the bandwidth capabilities and costs of wireless systems will make
desktop systems unappealing. Glenn Meeks disagrees, stating that there is
no technology on the horizon that will allow wireless networks to
accommodate comparable bandwidth.
indicates that computers are a useful tool at the elementary level.
Prakash proposes that laptops are provided for all students at the fifth
grade level and beyond. My own opinion is that computers be de-emphasized
or left out altogether from elementary education. Research from numerous
sources (see Jane Healy’s "Failure to Connect"*) indicate that
computers for children under ten year of age are more likely to do harm
than good. My own experience bears this out. I recently attended a student
display at my daughter’s elementary school. The preponderance of
computer-generated graphics was astonishing but sad; there was sameness
about it all. A small minority created their own graphics – crude,
colorful images - displaying creativity unmatched by the
computer-generated materials. Let young children learn to use their hands,
eyes and voices - there is time enough for “professionalism” in later
Glenn and Prakash assume that a fully accessible central network is
critical in schools. I question this assumption. School is an ideal place
for collaborative learning, social interaction and face-to face
involvement with teachers. Continual access to a local network or the
Internet are not necessary, and potentially at cross purposes with the
interactive potential of the school environment. Utilizing laptops, middle
and high school learners can connect to the Internet at home and on a
part-time basis in school. A limited number of students can connect to a
local network for presentations and file sharing at any given time.
Students can charge their laptops at home or in a library carol. Two hours
of laptop use a day in school is sufficient for a balanced learning
program A limited number of charging stations in classrooms can
accommodate the exceptions. This approach would eliminate many of the
costs associated with electrical and network wiring.
Constant access to hi
bandwidth connections for transmission of multi-media files is not
critical. Word processing, spreadsheets, and most graphics can be handled effectively with laptops. Full motion
video and processing of large, hi-resolution files can be handled by a
limited number of “mission critical” desktop computers.
Glenn’s reference to a computer
commons area sounds a lot like a computer lab – described by Prakash and
others as an obsolete concept. The academic “house,” with a common
resource area, surrounded by a group of classrooms for related age groups
has merit, but designing it for 25 – 30 computers seems short-sighted. A
school building will likely be around for 40 years or more, but the
integration of computers in curriculum will surely go through radical
changes in the next ten years. A better model for a commons area is a
flexible project space, with electrical power for computers and other
equipment, flat tables for projects, a sink, small library and space for
Glenn Meeks is president of Meeks Technology Group of Cary, N.C.,
which helps educational organizations with technological planning and
implementation. Visit the Meeks web site at www.meeksgeeks.com
or contact Glenn at email@example.com.
Prakash Nair is President Elect of Urban
Educational Facilities for the 21st Century, an organization
committed to the development of urban educational facilities that provide
the best possible learning environment for children. Visit the UEF website
or contact Prakash at PrakashN@notesys.com.
is an award-winning architect and planner, a contributing editor to School
Construction News, and the editor of Design Share. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities
Hot Topic: "Technology Integration," with abstracts and links to
21 full-text resources.
to Connect: How Computers Affect Our Children’s Minds, for Better and
Worse," by Jane Healy, PH.D.
children will choose an entertaining visual task over a more taxing
“Unless we get the emotional
brain involved, higher-level thinking and problem-solving will be
“Newer technologies emphasize rapid
processing of visual symbols (e.g. icons, film strips) and de-emphasize
traditional verbal learning (e.g., expository writing, text reading) and
the linear, analytic thought process that accompanies it.” Sequential
argument, reflection and “making pictures in your mind” are diminished
in favor of immediate experience. It is easier to convey emotional tone
with visual images than with text but more difficult to deal with abstract
verbal reasoning, such as analyzing the difference between a republic and
a democracy.” book
"Growing Up Digital,
The Rise of the Net Generation," by Don Tapscott.
"Their shift from broadcast to interactive
is the cornerstone of the Net-Generation. They want to be users -
not just viewers or listeners."
"Innovation is a hallmark of N-Gen culture.
Innovation, rather than traditional factors such as economies of scale,
access to raw materials, productivity, and the cost of labor, determines
success in the new economy."
"In a recent survey I conducted of business
leaders, 95.7 percent indicated that knowledge management was more
important than to their success than business process reengineering ...
Knowledge sharing is at the heart of this challenge." book