This is part two of my guide on hardware and education. This series is made to educate a novice on the basics of computer hardware and how it applies to education. I’m actually sure the audience for this post isn’t actually novices…let’s face it…you’re probably a power user-you’re reading my blog.
So what I was addressing earlier was what major components are in a computer (smartphone, tablet, laptop), and how they play a part in education. I’ve worked in many schools where the laptops were just really slow, and that was due to the fact that the hardware was just incredibly old. 2010 was one of those years.
In 2010 laptops came standard with about 4 gigabytes of RAM (random-access memory). The operating system and many programs that system administrators install on school laptops slow them down. For instance, many schools have tight security protocols, which require a couple of antivirus programs and data “sniffers.”
These programs, along with office and graphic design applications can really suck the life out of a laptop.
Fast forward to 2014, and those once-fancy laptops that were slow to begin with now take five minutes to boot up. They have now reached “end of life.” That means that from an average user standpoint…they’re practically unusable.
This is attributed to the former blog post, which described how the CPU, GPU, RAM, and other hardware components are simply overwhelmed by the sheer size of what’s going on inside it.
I once remarked in one of my ITED courses that computing with small processing power was good for education. Government refurbished computers and netbooks would be ideal for students. As I have spent more years in instructional technology, I’ve found that certain things may have been “blocking my view” regarding that assumption.
- Operating system requirements and updates
- Security program needs (required background applications hogging memory)
- Video requirements
- The sheer need for students to develop things other than basic text or image-rich materials
- The need for instructors to develop things things other than basic text or image-rich materials
Today, things are getting more-CPU (central processing unit-computer’s brain) intensive. Systems are being required to do more things. Not only are students instant-messaging one another, collaborating on a document, and receiving a tutorial on a social media site, but they are those all together. Having YouTube, Word, Skype, and other programs open all at once aren’t nice on an Intel Core 2 Duo machine.
At the Law Library, we’ve installed larger GPUs (graphics processing unit-see above just applies to graphics) on our machines (to accommodate for a new interactive tutorial software), and even those lack some days.
When I first heard the phrase “sage on the stage” in 2013, I couldn’t help but remember every college professor that I have ever had. First off, professors are usually experts in their field, and then asked to become experts of pedagogy. Now, with the advent of vigorous online instruction, we are asking them to carry around their PGP-encrypted laptops and teach from cyberspace.
How does a seasoned professional in a distinct field demonstrate their knowledge soundly? With as little droning on as possible? (I’ve droned, really). The article by “On Ramps”, a University of Texas-Austin publication, discusses how chunking material can be used to enhance overall course design. I’m not talking about just less droning, but less material.
Reducing material in smaller units can improve student engagement, and be less taxing on the instructor. Smaller course units give the students more room to learn. While the instructor may feel less in-control, social learning theory discusses that students will still learn, and feel engaged.
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Here are some paintings I cataloged for a local high school.
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