Or does it? As Tera says in her commentary below, there’s “lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
For four years students in Henrico County have had the pleasure of using iBooks. The $43.6-million program got nearly 26,000 iBooks into the hands of students, teachers, and administrators.
Did it help the teachers teach? Did it help the students learn? Where the iBooks easy to administer vs. Windows PCs? Was it a positive experience or not?
A Virginia consulting firm conducted a comprehensive survey (not comprehensive enough for Tera) of students and educators. Their findings?
Tom Lappas of the Henrico Citizen says, “The first comprehensive study of the groundbreaking Apple iBook initiative in Henrico County’s public schools shows that most students want the laptop program to continue even though some are unsure how much it is helping them academically.”
That would appear to be an ambitious and appropriate objective for such an expense. Any survey worth a moment or two would ask a simple question: “How much of your time on the iBook was spent on schoolwork and how much on recreational use?”
The Citizen found out that some questions are easier than others. “According to parents who participated in the survey, students spend an average of 1.8 hours per day using their iBooks while at home. The survey did not ask how much of that time was devoted to schoolwork and how much was spent on recreational use.”
Now it’s time for the statistics (lies, damned lies, and uh, well, statistics):
“The survey also found that 90 percent of families have another family computer at home, and that 92 percent of those computers are Windows-based.
The iBooks are most effective as research and organizational tools, according to a majority of the 20,409 students who completed the survey.
Seventy percent of middle-schoolers and 80 percent of high-schoolers want the iBook program to continue, but only 55 percent believe the computers have helped them perform better in school. Students reported that the iBooks are most useful in social studies, history and science.
Among parents, nearly three-quarters support the continuation of the initiative and nearly that many believe the iBooks have helped improve their children’s education. Slightly more than half also believe their children have accessed inappropriate websites through their iBooks.
The survey found lukewarm support for the Apple operating system; 54 percent of parents would prefer a Windows-based system for their children, while only 12 percent favor Apple.
High-school students also favor Windows over Apple, 51 percent to 24 percent, but middle-schoolers prefer Apple 41 percent to 36 percent.
Teachers were split at 34 percent apiece, while administrators showed the strongest support for Apple, selecting it over Windows 66 percent to 8 percent.”
Click Here to read the whole Henrico Citizen article and gather the details for your own analysis. As you’d expect, Tera has here thoughts encapsulated below:
Lies, damned lies, and statistics. A bunch of things pop out of that article. For example:
#1 – “54 percent of parents would prefer a Windows-based system for their children, while only 12 percent favor Apple.”
What about the other 34%? What do they favor?
#2 – “The survey found lukewarm support for the Apple operating system.”
Mac OS 9.x or Mac OS X? Were the systems upgraded regularly? Were students working on the latest Mac OS and what applications where in use?
#3 – “while administrators showed the strongest support for Apple, selecting it over Windows 66 percent to 8 percent.”
Hello? What’s that say? People who “know” prefer the Mac?
#4 – “The survey did not ask how much of that time was devoted to schoolwork and how much was spent on recreational use.”
That’s like, oh, I dunno, a REALLY important piece of information, don’t you think?? That would seem to be one of the first questions to ask.
#5 – “High-school students also favor Windows over Apple, 51 percent to 24 percent, but middle-schoolers prefer Apple 41 percent to 36 percent.”
Amazingly, Apple’s 2% marketshare becomes 24% “preference share” for high schoolers who haven’t been as heavily indoctrinated by the Microsoft Industrial Complex as adults. Among middle-schoolers (less indoctrination by MIC) Apple (assumes we’re talking about Mac OS X) is actually preferred.
Remarkable. More telling is the fact that no one is telling readers how the applications are being used. It’s only “used by students” but not how? Internet access? Wireless? AppleWorks? Home work assignments? PowerSchool?
It’s to be expected that there’d be a mixed bag of preferences (Windows vs. Mac). What’s sad is that there’s no list of specific objectives that were on the table back in 2001 when the program started. That would make survey results today much more telling.
As it is, the Henrico County project ends as many other school initiatives end. A mixed bag.