Intel: Think of the children - give them PCs, not e-readers
Tablets for the kids
Intel said school kids need computers, not e-readers, as it kicked off the Cebit computer show in Hannover this morning.
Apart from the pre-teen crowd, the vendor made a grab for everyone from desk jockeys to data centre managers as it tried to get round the fact it's already made most of its announcements for the quarter.
The server giant showed a Classmate tablet design aimed at school children.
The new Classmate runs on an Atom processor and can run Windows or Linux. Demo models today were running Windows 7. The touch-sensitive reversible screen can be "written" on with a stylus, with text conversion part of the reference platform.
The ruggedised design should be droppable from desk height, and hacks at Cebit today were happily chucking the devices to the floor as Intel product managers warned these were preproduction samples.
Asked if the device pointed the way for Intel's interests in the e-reader market, Gehad Galal, director of ecosystem relations for emerging markets, said in the education market the need was for more than just e-reading. Students needed to be able to access links, cut and paste text and the like. "We believe in e-learning, not just e-reading."
The platform design is designed for the K8 market - ie just into the teens, and should be priced at slightly more than the current classmate design, which starts at $200. Older students can be expected to focus their broader ambitions - and presumably bigger (parental) budgets - on full fat notebooks.
Intel expects local OEMs to start shipping Classmate products next quarter. ®
Think of the children? Ok.
This is a book. Learn how to read them. Learn how to maintain a stream of thought for longer than 30 seconds. Learn how to use an index and bibliography.
This is a pencil and paper. Learn how to do basic arithmetic, algebra etc. No, really; it's important. You'll thank me when your bank screws up.
That is the outside world. Go make some actual friends and learn some actual social skills. Get some exercise, lower your risk of heart disease and an early death.
Kids DO NOT need laptops. They need to know how to drive a computer, sure. But there are many more way, way, WAY more important skills than pressing buttons.
Also, last time I checked, my pencil and paper has a better battery life than any laptop. They were cheaper too.
The curse of cut and paste...
That about sums up educational computers, cut and bloody paste!
- Speaking as an IT lecturer here, who has to mark piles of BTEC assignments that are clearly cut and paste patchwork quilts and who then gets moaned at when I hand them back for redoing in the students own words.
Personally I would want to give out tests but we're not allowed to do this because it might disadvantage the poor little (16+) children. At least we'll be able to see who has actually been reading the Wikipedia pages (and don't get me started on that!).
Personal opinion? Readers for all, not PCs. Make them read the stuff and then copy it the long way, at least some of it will get lodged in the brain that way.
I don't care if I do sound reactionary over this but it's true, as you get older you do become your parents and maybe they had a point!
Choosing to remain anon as some of my collegues are known to read these pages occasionally and this might start something off in the staff room.
Online flames from younger readers expected.
Try giving them books ... and making sure they're literate enough to read them...
But then we all know that companies like Intel have our children's best educational wishes at heart, don't we?
Mind you, blaming Intel isn't the complete answer since they are in the business to make money, after all. It is noticeable, from years of observation of this market, that many of the worst decisions about technology come from high-powered yet uninformed people who make decisions based on their own ignorance.
Acorn's RISC OS, for example, was a classic tale of a product designed with classroom use in mind yet was pushed out by governers that insisted that, as the business world ran on Microsoft, so should all our classes. They didn't take into account that not every class is about teaching word processing (spelt with a capital W) or kids training to be future MCSAs, nor that, at the time, the Microsoft platform for education was woefully inadequate (some might say that this is still the case, but I'll leave that to people with a more recent view of that particular situation).
So, I suppose, Intel and company have nothing to worry about. As long as the suckers are in charge, they can turn out as many VHS-type failures as they like, knowing that the badge will always lead them to profit.
Need to stop dumbing down the world
Instead of giving kids new gadgets and dumbing down the world, teach them how to read and get out into the world and socialise.
While they are at it, they can also teach them how to accept responsibility for their actions by actually punishing them when they do something wrong instead of just slapping them on the wrist lightly.