Apple's Craig Federighi talks Hour of Code, dismisses findings on value of educational tech spending

Posted:
in General Discussion edited December 2015
Apple's senior VP of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, promoted the company's participation in Code.org's annual Hour of Code events in a Monday interview, while downplaying suggestions that school spending on technology hasn't provided any meaningful advantages over regular education.




"These devices are so much a part of our lives, we have a computer in some form wherever we go, that the ability to create in that medium is as fundamental as the ability to write," Federighi toldBBC. Apple Stores will host a free hour-long programming class for kids on Dec. 10, as well as six related events running today through Dec. 12.

The executive added that he first tried coding when he was 10, and that programming should be considered the "next level of literacy." He also tried to dispel stereotypes about the field, calling it "among the most creative, expressive and social careers."

Notably, he indicated that he'd like Apple Stores to be used for training and education more frequently. The company does host regular workshops for customers and summer camps for kids, but these don't involve programming or other advanced skills.

The BBC raised the issue of complaints about school spending on technology, noting that the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development) found no direct link between billions spent on computers and other hardware and improvements in learning. Apple has long sold computers to school districts, and is currently making a strong push to get iPads into classrooms.

"There's no question in my mind of the value in technology in fueling young minds," Federighi said. "Like any other tool, if you simply throw it in the classroom, and don't consider how best to take advantage of that tool, and you try the old ways with a new piece of technology on the desk, it's no panacea. But the potential of the technology when well applied is phenomenal."

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 6
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    Given the amount of money at stake and the limited amount of that stuff all Western governments seem to have at that moment, it's not good enough to just reject such findings out of hand. You need to provide evidence to the contrary. Some Chinese schools are significantly outperforming most in the west and they manage that without vast deployment of high-tech learning aids. You would likely get a far better result spending the money on improving teachers salaries and doing more to make education a more attractive career for bright people.
  • Reply 2 of 6
    I'm highly suspicious of what exactly the studies were measuring when they concluded that technology (spending) had no impact on "learning." I think technology, particularly coding, teaches kids to think abstractly.
  • Reply 3 of 6
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,007member
    cnocbui said:
    Given the amount of money at stake and the limited amount of that stuff all Western governments seem to have at that moment, it's not good enough to just reject such findings out of hand. You need to provide evidence to the contrary. Some Chinese schools are significantly outperforming most in the west and they manage that without vast deployment of high-tech learning aids. You would likely get a far better result spending the money on improving teachers salaries and doing more to make education a more attractive career for bright people.
    There's always money for certain things, like the military in the US. It all comes down to what a government or society feels is necessary. The larger issue is who is controlling the purse strings and what their understanding of anything is. I'm sick and tired of all the old white men making the major decisions. We need to get rid of them and bring in people who weren't brought up learning the three R's (goes to show you these people can't spell) and nothing else. 

    That said, there's been a lot of poor decisions regarding the use of technology again made by people controlling the purse strings who have absolutely no understanding of what's going on. If we use the BBC's understanding of technology, auto shop classes would have been run without a car and tools, only using a book. This doesn't work.

    Your comment about Chinese schools needs to be taken with more than a grain of salt. How many Chinese youth are allowed to attend school? What standards are used to judge their performance? I detest No Child Left Behind because just testing someone doesn't mean they're learning anything. Anyone can be taught how to reguretate supposed facts. The problem is what happens to these students when they are presented with something that isn't exactly what they were taught.  
  • Reply 4 of 6
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    programmer and technologist Clifford Stoll makes some compelling arguments against computers in the classroom. primarily cost, turning educators into tech support workers, and diluting learning into entertainment. his stance is the hard way is the only way, and there are no shortcuts.

    worth a read:

    http://www.amazon.com/High-Tech-Heretic-Reflections-Contrarian/dp/0385489757
    edited December 2015
  • Reply 5 of 6
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,422member
    I'm highly suspicious of what exactly the studies were measuring when they concluded that technology (spending) had no impact on "learning." I think technology, particularly coding, teaches kids to think abstractly.
    But that's not what happens in most schools.   Most schools bring in computers or Pads or whatever and think that that in and of itself is going to improve learning and/or intelligence.    Or they just use it with drill and practice software.   Or the kids look up stuff on Google and copy and paste it into their essays.   And parents mistakenly think that using a computer or Pad is the same thing as "computer literacy" and is going to get their kid a job.  Most schools do not actually teach any kind of programming especially at the K-8 level because they're concentrating almost solely on reading and math skills so the kids can pass the Common Core exams or equivalent.    There are elementary schools that don't even include science in the curriculum anymore.    

    Personally, I think every kid should learn coding.  It teaches kids not only to think abstractly, but to think logically and in an organized way.   You can't code unless you understand the problem you're trying to solve, an extremely valuable skill for anyone.   Even if they never code a single line once they start their careers, these skills are valuable.   Unfortunately, few teachers have been trained to properly teach it.   Teacher training is a joke.  

    Back in the 1980s, I worked for a major school publisher with responsibility for creating educational software.   We had some incredible "discovery learning" programs, but after a short time when such software was widely accepted, they were rejected by schools in favor of drill and practice software?  Why?   Because in these discovery learning apps, the schools couldn't directly measure the specific skills that the students learned.  How do you measure someone learning how to think?   Unfortunately, it's much easier to measure if they know how much 233 divided by 15 is or the year the Civil War started.   And today, it's gotten far worse with the over-emphasis on standardized test scores. 

    I would make the case that most schools don't teach most students anything.   If you look at schools that have high reading and math scores what you'll find is that these kids came to school already knowing how to read and understanding basic math.    If there's a home environment where learning is considered important and the kids aren't permitted to surf TV, text and play video games all day, they do well in school.   And if it's a home environment with no books and no creative activities, the kids do horribly in school.   And that's all aside from the issue that most schools are teaching the same way today as they did 100 years ago:  someone at the front of the room lecturing students who take notes or do worksheets.    My 12-year-old granddaughter is home-schooled and she's light years ahead of most public and private-school kids because she's taught how to think.    My now 6-year-old grandson was so bored by Kindergarten last year, he started having behavioral problems.    He listens to the "History of the World" audiotapes at home and knows more about history than most high-school seniors.   But we've introduced technology to them very slowly and in a very controlled manner.   
  • Reply 6 of 6
    trumptmantrumptman Posts: 16,454member
    programmer and technologist Clifford Stoll makes some compelling arguments against computers in the classroom. primarily cost, turning educators into tech support workers, and diluting learning into entertainment. his stance is the hard way is the only way, and there are no shortcuts.

    worth a read:

    http://www.amazon.com/High-Tech-Heretic-Reflections-Contrarian/dp/0385489757
    I agree with much of this as well and there is a point to it. You don't learn high level concepts without some foundation. Most people use the technology to skip the foundation. They don't need math fact fluency for example, they have calculators to help them instead. However they never get to sophisticated understanding without that foundation. It is just impossible. I liken it to being able to improvise in music but you don't know any scales. It would be impossible.

    zoetmb said:
    I'm highly suspicious of what exactly the studies were measuring when they concluded that technology (spending) had no impact on "learning." I think technology, particularly coding, teaches kids to think abstractly.
    But that's not what happens in most schools.   Most schools bring in computers or Pads or whatever and think that that in and of itself is going to improve learning and/or intelligence.    Or they just use it with drill and practice software.   Or the kids look up stuff on Google and copy and paste it into their essays.   And parents mistakenly think that using a computer or Pad is the same thing as "computer literacy" and is going to get their kid a job.  Most schools do not actually teach any kind of programming especially at the K-8 level because they're concentrating almost solely on reading and math skills so the kids can pass the Common Core exams or equivalent.    There are elementary schools that don't even include science in the curriculum anymore.    

    Personally, I think every kid should learn coding.  It teaches kids not only to think abstractly, but to think logically and in an organized way.   You can't code unless you understand the problem you're trying to solve, an extremely valuable skill for anyone.   Even if they never code a single line once they start their careers, these skills are valuable.   Unfortunately, few teachers have been trained to properly teach it.   Teacher training is a joke.  

    Back in the 1980s, I worked for a major school publisher with responsibility for creating educational software.   We had some incredible "discovery learning" programs, but after a short time when such software was widely accepted, they were rejected by schools in favor of drill and practice software?  Why?   Because in these discovery learning apps, the schools couldn't directly measure the specific skills that the students learned.  How do you measure someone learning how to think?   Unfortunately, it's much easier to measure if they know how much 233 divided by 15 is or the year the Civil War started.   And today, it's gotten far worse with the over-emphasis on standardized test scores. 

    I would make the case that most schools don't teach most students anything.   If you look at schools that have high reading and math scores what you'll find is that these kids came to school already knowing how to read and understanding basic math.    If there's a home environment where learning is considered important and the kids aren't permitted to surf TV, text and play video games all day, they do well in school.   And if it's a home environment with no books and no creative activities, the kids do horribly in school.   And that's all aside from the issue that most schools are teaching the same way today as they did 100 years ago:  someone at the front of the room lecturing students who take notes or do worksheets.    My 12-year-old granddaughter is home-schooled and she's light years ahead of most public and private-school kids because she's taught how to think.    My now 6-year-old grandson was so bored by Kindergarten last year, he started having behavioral problems.    He listens to the "History of the World" audiotapes at home and knows more about history than most high-school seniors.   But we've introduced technology to them very slowly and in a very controlled manner.   

    Well my research about technology and education for my graduate degree could pretty much be summed up in one sentence. Technology grows inequity. We've certainly seen this in finance as well. If you are a great stock trader, being able to instantly execute trades anywhere at lightening speed grows that advantage vs the past when you had to research and call in a trade. If you are a highly curious and motivated individual, giving you a device that can feed that 24/7 just grows your outcome. Likewise those who lack the interest simply continue to lack it even if the lessons sing, dance and prance around in a desperate attempt to gain their interest. 
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