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High -Tech Heretic: Reflections of a Computer Contrarian

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Computers in the Classroom? Ready, Set, No! Tony Dillow EDEL 302

Computers in the Classroom? Ready, Set, No! Tony Dillow EDEL 302 High Tech Heretic is a book written by Clifford Stoll that questions the necessity of the Internet and computers in the education of our children and society today. Stoll has been programming computers sin...
Computers in the Classroom? Ready, Set, No! Tony Dillow EDEL 302 High Tech Heretic is a book written by Clifford Stoll that questions the necessity of the Internet and computers in the education of our children and society today. Stoll has been programming computers since the sixties and on the internet since the seventies. However, in this book Stoll warns against the effects that the Internet and computers will have on our interactions with others. Stoll challenges what he calls, “techies” to question the false promises and gross exaggerations made by Internet and computer companies. Stoll has separated the book into two parts Why Computers Don’t Belong in the Classroom and The Computer Contrarian. Stoll has authored several other books including, The Cuckoo’s Egg, which brought him worldwide attention. Stoll is an energetic and entertaining speaker who is an astronomer at the University of California Berkley. Stoll is also a commentator for MSNBC. Stoll’s skepticism of the Internet and computers is shown in the section in the book titled A Literate Luddite. While at a science fair, he noticed a multicolor map of the Earth depicting global temperatures. He noticed that the Amazon rain forest, according to the map, was thirty-eight degrees. When he questioned the author of the report as to why the rain forest was so cold, the authors answer was “I don’t know, it was on the internet”. The author of the report never considered that the temperatures could have been in Celsius not Fahrenheit. This is just one of the many examples that Stoll uses in the book to show his harsh skepticism of the Internet and computers being the answer to our educational needs in the classroom. I really enjoyed reading the book. It has given me a completely different perspective of the importance or the lack of importance the Internet and computers should play in our schools. I recommend this book to anyone that has decided that the Internet and computers are the only way of the future for our children and society. Keep an open mind and listen to Stoll’s skepticism.

posted by TonyRacer on December 9, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Jasmine Jackson

Stroll made some very interesting points in his book, and I feel that it would be a great book for teachers in the school systems to read, because I do feel that there are some teachers that do rely on technology more now to teach their classrooms, instead of doing hand...
Stroll made some very interesting points in his book, and I feel that it would be a great book for teachers in the school systems to read, because I do feel that there are some teachers that do rely on technology more now to teach their classrooms, instead of doing hands on activities. I will be the type of the teacher that will include as little technology in the classroom, because I am not great with computers any how. Yes I do believe there is need of some technology in the classrooms, because there is so much new technology in the world that our students will have to learn how to work regardless if it is for work or school in the future. I feel that in Elementary classes there is not much need of using technology, and yes it does make learning fun in classrooms if they get to play a game, but if they are depending on games to help them learn early on then they are going to expect the same when they get older. Also the use of calculators in classrooms is starting early on in the classrooms. When I was in school, we started using calculators when we started using the high tech calculators, now I see young students using calculators to do mental math. I know I have not been out of school very long, but when I was in grade school we were not able to use calculators to do mental math. One thing that I didn't agree with Stroll is learning is not suppose to be fun. I feel that learning can be fun at times. I am a very outgoing person and I believe in fun in learning. I feel that there are other ways than technology that you can have fun to learn. I learn by doing, and if you are a good teacher you will be able to find ways to keep a child's attention without technology at all times. I do believe it is ok to have technology in your lesson plans ever now and then, however I don't think it is ok to depend on technology to teach your classroom. There are both pros and cons to using technology. Yes it is ok to use technology in the classroom, because technology is part of the world, but it should have its limit and teachers should not abuse it and use it as a crutch to teach their students. I also agree that instead of schools using all their money on computers and technology software, they could be using it towards something different than trying to put computers in every classroom.

posted by Jasmine67 on May 3, 2010

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  • Posted December 8, 2014

    This book may be too smart for me. Saying so may actually just s

    This book may be too smart for me. Saying so may actually just show my ignorance but my first impression of the book was that it was written in such a brainy language that I wasn’t even going to know what many of the words meant. Luckily, as I read I found that that was not the case although it was still brainy in both style and words. So this book may not even be a something an average Joe, like myself, would even want pick up anyway or if they did they may skim the first chapter and regret picking it up to begin with.
    As for my opinion on the book’s topic, I find the writer’s opinion to be, at the very least, either outdated or simply at fault. Speaking towards the former, the book was written in 2000 so it was still after computers started their rise to popularity. But a lot has changed since then, he mentions that a student doesn’t need many computer skills to get through college but these days it is quite necessary. He mentioned several of the main points such as web-using and word-processor but today students also need PowerPoint, skills to use web-based programs such as Blackboard (a school program), and I’m actually writing this review because it is an assignment for an entire class about technology that only know w few things about computers would not have prepared me for.
    Now speaking toward the fault in his opinions, he feels that teaching technology in the classroom is unnecessary. I ask, is it more necessary than the anatomy class I took in high school, the calculus class, or the chemistry class? I had to take these other classes over topics I may not use again, especially if I continue my college major of being an elementary teacher. But I had to take them anyway. Maybe it was required for me to take them because they would help me later if I took a respective field like doctor, mathematician, or chemist, but couldn’t I also aspire to being a computer programmer? Or maybe I was simply required to take them so that I am just generally better educated and more useful than someone who hasn’t taken them, which still would seem to hold true for technology. At least technology really is something people will probably see every day regardless of what field they enter.
    Technology reminds me of something called the Tinker Bell effect. The more we believe technology is important, the more it actually is. Apparently some people believed it was important because even just becoming an elementary teacher I need to learn to use computer based grade books and other databases, as well as things like smart boards and projectors. All made and installed by people who obviously feel technology is important. And honestly, once you learn to use them, they may make your life all the easier for it.
    So how do I feel about this book? Sorry Mr. Stoll, your book seems really intelligently written but maybe too much for some people. And I feel you opinion is wrong.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2014

    This book, while informational, is droll. I feel the use of it a

    This book, while informational, is droll. I feel the use of it as a tool to depend upon when learning about technology in the classroom has little significance when expediting nomenclature in referral to today's standards. Not only is it outdated, but the sources stated within the book do not further along into their conclusive results. The aforementioned ETS reports are dismissed, and the conclusive evidence given in them that technology is indeed a factor within the classroom is justly ignored over standard traditional preferences in teaching methods. Specialized education is the future, and technology is developing ways to do  it that span continents, languages, genders, and exceptional students within communities. I feel that while the book is an interesting read, it is not a relevant tool to be used when deciding on factors within the classroom.  
    -Miranda Warren

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2011

    Highly Recommended!

    This book is very insightful for any teacher or future teacher to read. Although not all points Clifford Stoll makes I agree with, however it gave me many insights about the use of computers and technology in the classroom.
    Stoll makes multiple arguments against computers in the classroom. One argument is that computers and technology are costly. He says, ¿Wiring a school typically costs thousands of dollars per classroom; and it will have to be redone within a decade, as communications systems evolve. Classroom software has a surprisingly short life¿¿ Computers are expensive and the updates and new software adds on even more cost.
    Stoll also mentions the age that some children are being introduced to computers. He says, ¿According to Knowledge Adventure Company, nine-month-olds can benefit from computers.¿ Stoll disagrees with this proposal and I believe that many people would also agree that infants or even some toddlers should not use computers. Students can learn computers in computer class, which is implemented into most schools during the school day. One (45 minute) computer class a week for ages 6 and up is appropriate for kids, in my view. Many occupations require computer literacy because that is the best and easiest way to do the job. For example, architecture and engineering are occupations that have a heavy reliance on technology. This is why I believe it is important for children to be computer/technology literate.
    Internet for children in the classroom is a different story. This is another one of Stoll¿s arguments. The Internet involves so many inappropriate web sites for children in school. Stoll compares the Internet to junk food. He says, ¿The Value of information depends on its freshness¿ the value of information depends on its accuracy and reliability.¿ Students should be aware that not all information on the Internet is reliable or accurate. There is information on the Internet that could have been written in the 1970¿s, and is so outdated that it is no longer accurate, but a child not realizing how old that information is, could take it and learn old, inaccurate information.
    These are not the only points Stoll makes. He makes another point that children are great with computers, but their amount in social experiences is falling. Children are hidden behind their computer screens and are no longer engaging in face-to-face conversations that are so crucial. As mentioned, many occupations have a reliance on technology, however many occupations rely on social interaction, such as direct selling, anything in the medical field and ultimately, teaching. It is important for children to have computer skills and social skills. I believe it is most important for children to have a complete balance between technology skills and social skills.

    -Emily Bishop

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  • Posted November 26, 2011

    Stoll's Soapbox: Too repetitive for a busy student

    This long drawn out book by Clifford Stoll was a quick easy read, but not exactly a fun rainy day read. Stoll talks about how computers and technology in general has taken over the classroom and is causing our students to become some what reliant on the heaps of available technology. I am sure he is well qualified and he obviously has some authority when he writes about technology in the classroom, but there is no reason to be so repetitive. It seems that this 220 page book could have easily been kept to a small 100 page book. Stoll does make some valid points while standing on his permanent soapbox, but it becomes painful after a while. Stoll clearly believes that students are suffering for the computerication that we have forced upon our students as early as kindergarten. More and more school budgets are being rearranged to purchase expensive computers that will surely be obsolete in five years. Not only do these computers grow old quickly, they are also seen as more of a hindrance to learning that the general public believes. Stoll explains why computers are not meant to be studied like math and science, but they are simply a tool to help the learning process. First graders don¿t need to know how to type and calculators and power points are only things to hide behind as a struggling high schooler. Computers make learning fun, and learning is not meant to be fun. Slowly computers are taking over our libraries, software is filling our closets and techies are overly arrogant blindsiding our parents into thinking that all of this computer education is somehow better for their child. Stoll, overall states a million and ten reasons why computers are not needed in every classroom in the school, and they certainly aren¿t helping our students succeed. Technology has become overbearing and teachers and parents alike need to be aware.

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  • Posted June 28, 2011

    Outdated and too hypocritical for my taste

    Clifford Stoll comes from a technology background but doesn't seem to appreciate change; in his book he seems to me to see teaching with technology as a challenge rather than an opportunity to further enhance student knowledge. At my school, our principal tells us all the time to be collaborative with our fellow teachers, if we can bring art into our classroom for a lesson then do so because it shows the students how what they are learning applies in other places than just art class. Stoll seems to think the opposite, that the subjects need to be separated and that technology needs to stay out of other classrooms.

    In his book, Stoll tries too hard to use persuasive strategies to convince people he sounds educated on the topic by blaming technology for student deficiencies in what seems like every subject. Students are falling behind here in random city USA, so let's take a quote and try and apply it to make it sound like it's because of technology that students aren't exceeding in math, science, art, etc. Or students in this part of the country hate their Math teacher; it must be because they aren't using technology. His arguments at times don't seem extremely thought out, or that at least there could be another reason for a deficiency besides technology.

    Stoll also seemed to be preaching the idea that computers weren't around when he was in school and look how he and his colleagues turned out. Just because professionals learned their traits when computers weren't around doesn't mean students should have to learn that way today. I bet if computers would have been around when he was in school, he would have been one of the students who enjoyed using them; he claims several times in the book that he like using computers.

    There's a part in the book where he goes on a tirade about how expensive computers are and how the more computers a school district has the more upkeep they're going to need and the more jobs that a school district is going to need to be able to run all of these machines - which makes sense when you take into account the time this was written. However, now eleven years later, computers are cheaper, upkeep is cheaper, there are a lot of better written programs around today that do what people use to do when this was written; a lot of the things in this book just seem really outdated which makes it seem that much more ridiculous to read.

    I can appreciate this book for the point of view it presents, but I primarily think of it as a history lesson on the wrong way to think about technology from a decade ago.

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  • Posted November 30, 2009

    Stoll's High Tech Heretic

    In Stoll's High Tech Heretic, Stoll discusses how he feels about incorporating technology into the classrooms. His stance and resistance to the use of computers is very surprising to me as a reader. Into today's age almost everything has some kind of technology attached to it. His fear that computers will replace teachers inside the classroom and decrease the social interactions children need are valid points, but the belief that technology can be good rather than an evil holds strong if used in the correct moderation. Creating centers with technology available or using a powerpoint or smartbaord to present information are great ways to bring the modern age of technology into the classroom. This book was very insightful to me because I believe children should have the opportunities to be active on the computer. This provides students with information that may not be available in their school or community. Stoll's argument that student's creativity will be stunted is something I completely disagree with. There are so many programs available to help students will projects that the only thing being hindered is their ability to work hands-on. I do agree, however, with Stoll that teachers should not depend on technology to teach the children. Interaction is needed with them to aid them through their learning, but as long as the technology is being used as such it is not a problem within the classroom. I would definitely recommend this book to someone who is considering using more technology then used previously. Stoll presents great ways to moderate your classroom technology use and provides advice on how to keep your students interacting with not only the teachers and students, but the librarians or media specialists as well. There are times where he carries on about the bad things about technology and how they may not have aided in the education process, but overall it was a fairly good read.

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  • Posted November 29, 2009

    "You Can't See the Forest for the Trees"

    Clifford Stoll brings up some very interesting points in his book, High-Tech Heretic: Reflections of a Computer Contrarian. It is clear that he, as well as many other educators, is on the fence regarding the effectiveness of computers in the classroom. It is true that all educators need to have a critical eye when choosing whether or not to use computers in the classroom but Stoll's book is completely ineffective in helping make that decision.

    While the book is full of good points like, ".the Internet snatches our minds from our homes, transporting us into the nowhereville of cyberspace.." These points were strong and supported by many liable sources. The writing style Stoll used, however, made it not only difficult but irritating to root through the nonsense and discover the true point of even a single sentence. His wishy-washy style came off very nonchalant and almost gave the impression that Stoll was sort of over the issue.

    It also seems that many of Stoll's points are now obsolete in today's techie society. He discusses issues with floppy disks and small monitors. Today many students do not even know what a floppy disk is. These same students do not have to worry about monitor size or clarity because high definition and widescreen monitors are standard on many of today's computer models.

    While I do feel that computers are essential to a school's curriculum I do not believe that each and every subject can be taught effectively via the computer. Computers can only supplement a good teacher and that teacher must have the support she needs from not only the principal but school board and superintendent. Computers "make learning fun" but shouldn't learning be fun without whistles and bells? If it is not it seems to me there is a problem with the teacher not the technology that is available or the students.

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  • Posted May 4, 2009

    High-Tech Heretic - A review

    This book, High-Tech Heretic, brought up many valid and thought inducing points. The author gave his opinion on the controversial issue of whether or not computers should be an integral part of the learning experience in our schools' classrooms. He sites many opinions and facts from both sides of the argument while making his opinion on the matter extremely clear from the very beginning. He lets his readers know that while he is a avid computer user he does not believe that computers should be a part of an educational experience for students, or to a small extent teachers. I somewhat agree with Mr. Stoll, computers should not be a large part of a child's education.

    Growing up my younger sister, and myself went through school using computers as a minimal amount of time. Our classes did not focus solely on computers and what could be done with them. Instead we used them for what they are, a tool. We used them to type reports or look up current events, but that was the extent of the use. Once in high school there were computer classes offered, but they were not a required part of our education. Though even with this minimal usage, I feel that computers can be (not will be) a helpful tool in the class room. This, however is the point I find Mr. Stoll is missing throughout his book. While giving a few opinions from the view opposed to his own, the author never seems to have an open enough mind to consider their facts and opinions as even a possibility. He uses the arguments of the opposing opinion as a way to foster own point of view as the superior opinion.

    Though I believe Mr. Stoll to be somewhat bias in his reporting on school computer usage, I do find I agree with him completely on other accounts. People arguing that computers are interactive and let students be more interested and excited in there work is just one. Though, as the book argues, sometimes work isn't suppose to be fun. What are we teaching children about "real life" if we work around and dumb our children's educations down just to make it fun, entertaining and interactive. And if a teacher, administrator or parent are overly insistent on interactive techniques being used to teach students there are other, well established and possibly more effective ways of implementing them into a curriculum. Things that are more tangible than a picture or chart on a computer screen. Real, physical things like coins to learn counting and what each piece of money is actually worth are an time honored way of teaching children in an interactive way without the assistance, or more aptly put, the hindrance of computer programs. For teaching a child to count, or read, or any number of basic and advanced life and educational lessons, should not turn into a lesson in how to navigate, operate and at times fix a computer. It is a waste of time and money which should not be.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2006

    High-Tech Heretic: Is it really worth your time?

    I would have to say that Clifford Stoll¿s High-Tech Heretic is by far one of my least favorite books. His point of view on the use of computers in the classroom has no support in this day and age because computers are quickly becoming an inevitable part of life. Stoll says that a good teacher should be able to teach her students without any multimedia help. I don¿t necessarily think that teachers use technology to teach, but to put into perspective what they are teaching. If computers were not used in the classroom as Stoll proposes, I think that there would be a lack of skill in modern-day society among those students because computers are so often used in places other than school. They are used world-wide as a source of communication, keeping people in contact around the world in a matter of seconds at a cost considerably less than using the telephone. Also, as I¿ve come to depend on, computers are a source of valuable information that is sometimes hard to obtain from libraries due to the unavailability of books when they are checked out to other patrons. Computers should not rule the classroom, but should be integrated into schoolwork skillfully as to help students not to teach or even think for the students. Stoll should realize that technology is here to stay and isn¿t a fad that will slowly fade out, it will only shine brighter with time. I think that computers are an important and key tool to anyone, and especially those in school. They are the future of our world, and their future will be more equipped with technology than ever dreamed. If they aren¿t taught how to adequately use computers at a young age, it may take some time to catch up.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2006

    High-Tech Heretic Review

    I had mixed emotions after reading Clifford Stoll¿s High-Tech Heretic. Although it is well written and often very comedic, I have to strongly disagree with Stoll¿s arguments. Computers and technology are and should be an important tool in the classroom. The humor of the novel is not enough to overcome what many times seems to be complete ignorance on Stoll¿s part. I know that seven years is a long time when talking about technology, but in 1999 when High-Tech Heretic was published, computers were already a vital part of education. Luckily, in those seven years since computer use in classrooms has increased significantly. Since more and more educators are incorporating computers and technology into the classroom, doesn¿t that mean someone is noticing they are working? Why would educators use and expand the use of something that doesn¿t help and who better to make that decision than the teachers who see the effects of computers in the classroom. Not saying that educators should depend on computers or that there is no need for teachers if computers can do so much, but to say there is no room for computers in the classroom is absurd. What is so wrong about having an unlimited amount of information at the fingertips of students? Students should be taught how to use computers at a fairly young age and how to use them responsibly. Stoll writes an entertaining book, but fails to make many valid points because of his extreme viewpoints.

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