Posted on 04-02-2008
Filed Under (Mobile technology, teaching, Technology) by gashed

I have bought an Asus Eee PC; it’s an ultra portable laptop computer and it is mind boggingly brilliant.  The screen is only 7″ wide (a version with 10″ is to be released soon), so it is tiny.  It is robust and quiet as there are no spinning parts, it has no CD drive and a solid state hard disk memory.  They ship with Linux but you can get XP installed; both work great.  In Ireland they are available from www.expansys.ie for about 345 euro.  You can get more variety and cheaper options on www.ebay.ie

It is easy to imagine that every kid will have one of these in their bag soon.  They pop into class and crank up their ultra laptop (boots in seconds) and update their blog, work on a wiki, check their RSS feeds, open the class moodle course etc.  These laptops are perfect size and functionality to allow easy integration into the classroom and if the costs continue to fall it won’t take long.

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Posted on 25-08-2007
Filed Under (teaching) by gashed

ICT companies have launched a Student Laptop Programme offering affordable computers to 3rd level students.  Perhaps this could be extended to teachers, please.

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Posted on 06-08-2007
Filed Under (Examination, teaching) by gashed

The Irish Independent reports on the government’s decision to limit the points required for entry into medicine to 450 points (Universities are looking to alter this to 480 points).  Irish students complete a Leaving Certificate examination at the end of their 2 year senior cycle, generally they sit 7 subject exams, 6 of which they use to matriculate.  If the subjects are taken at honours level any percentage over 90% is called an A1 and is awarded 100 points.  Lower percentages result in lower points.  The points of 6 subjects are added together to form an overall points total.  The students apply for entry onto a college course and those with the highest points are accepted.This ‘points race’ has placed tremendous pressure on these students; however with the expanded range of 3rd level courses, the increase in the number of places and the more flexible routes (often more expensive) into courses this pressure has been relieved for many students.  The exception is the medical courses.  Caps on the number of medical places on offer mean there is still a extremely high points requirement for these courses.  The question has often been asked does obtaining 600 points mean you are better suited to be a doctor than someone with 560 points.  The government has responded by looking to allow anyone with over 450 points to sit a separate aptitude test to determine who should gain access to these courses.It is not clear to me how extra examinations will relieve pressure on students.  Certainly it is good news for grind schools as students will flock to be prepared for these tests.  Is a measure of IQ in the form of these tests a good barometer to determine who is best equipped to become a doctor or dentist?  What does this say about our Leaving Certificate or education system that it does not allow us to select students that have the potential to become doctors?  Why is a combined score of IQ and LC be preferably to LC alone?  Is there not a concern that IQ tests have a reputation of being socially exclusive?  Does this evaluation of suitability look at the crucial traits required to be a great doctor; empathy, communication, decisiveness etc?  Are we just following the

UK and

Australia for no particular reason? 

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Posted on 13-07-2007
Filed Under (teaching) by gashed

In an interview with Michael Galvin, head of Cisco’s Galway R&D plant with siliconrepublic.com, featured on Independent.ie and reffered to on NetworkWorld.com, he adressed the problem of insufficent science and technology graduates in Ireland.  He highlighted 3 areas to be addressed:

  • Focus on science in primary school.
  • Increased use of technology to communicate as students do outside of the classroom.
  • Teachers to equip the student’s with problem solving skills and ‘reskill its workforce to become knowledge  orchestrators’.

Science at primary level has recently been overhauled and there is now a postgraduate certificate/dipolma in Teaching Science at Primary level in University College Cork.  The 2nd and 3rd points refer to second level; certainly it’s hard to argue against that we should be communicating with students in a way they understand in order to engender uderstanding, and we should be allowing the students to work together to create and develop their knowledge, as they will have to in the workplace.

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