Thursday, November 12, 2009

Education Week: Schools Shun Kindle, Saying Blind Can't Use It

Education Week: Schools Shun Kindle, Saying Blind Can't Use It.

I thought this was hilarious. The first sentence reads, "Amazon's Kindle can read books aloud, but if you're blind it can be difficult to turn that function on without help." Because of that difficulty, two universities have stated they will not adopt the technology. They universities further stated that they cannot adopt the kindle because it is against their policy to discriminate when they know the Kindle discriminates against the blind.

I was curious. I consider myself ridiculously liberal in most areas, and probably overly politically correct, but am I missing something here? Do these universities also shun textbooks, because, clearly, they are discriminatory towards the blind, and they do not have an audio on feature at all. Now, some of you might argue, that textbooks can be recorded and be given to blind students. But doesn't that involve needing many sighted people to help read, record, and deliver the material to the student? And if that is okay, can we ask someone help with that feature. I know they exist, but I have not seen too many computers in university labs with braille built into them. Many operating systems (Windows and Mac) have tools for visually impaired users such as enlarging text on the screen and commands that are read to the user as the cursor passes over them, but if one cannot see to turn those features on, they are in the same boat as the Kindle.

History notes that the Age of Enlightenment or the Age of Reason started in the early 1600's and ended right around 1800. The reading of this article seems to suggest that this might be true.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Students use web in exams

This just came out in BBC news. Denmark is piloting the use of the Internet and student laptops during their state exams. Mind you this is not a computer-based test that students type their answers online. This is a test that has only four questions, the students use whatever materials they have on their computers or online research to solve the problems. The only thing banned is communication with other students or other people via email or IM and the like.

My favorite line from the article is, Students are no longer required to regurgitate facts and figures. Instead the emphasis is on their ability to sift through and analyse (sic) information. While many educators in America would say the same statement, Denmark is moving toward a society that doesn't just talk about changing education, but lives out that reality with its entire education system. Minister for education in Denmark, Bertel Haarder, says: "Our exams have to reflect daily life in the classroom and daily life in the classroom has to reflect life in society."

To read the complete article:

or listen to the Early BBC Newshour: