Another dot in the blogosphere?

iPad hype vs hope

Posted on: November 5, 2010

Not too long ago I reflected on the hype over hope surrounding the iPad in education. I’m revisiting that theme because of what I experienced at our TE21 summit session on Tuesday.

I heard from three very different groups here in NIE about their interest in the iPad. Two staff members wondered if I had anything to do with the mass email that circulated some time back asking staff members if they wanted iPads. (That was some other party and shame on them for not getting back to us. And shame on Apple for not being more proactive in taking advantage of this opportunity!)

As we had visitors from schools, I learnt that there might be yet another iPad initiative in a local secondary school. I had previously consulted for another secondary school that was thinking of doing the same thing.

To all parties I say this: Don’t fall into the cool tool trap.

Do I love my iPad? Yes. Would I recommend it as a ubiquitous computing device in schools? Not necessarily.

Schools need to first have in place a reliable and wide ranging wireless Internet access. If they are thinking of a school-owned model for iPads, then they need to build up device storage and syncing capacity. Far better that they go for the user-owned model. The “problems” in the latter model (e.g., non-standard content) are opportunities to bring about change.

As they do this, they must simultaneously examine ways that the mobile technology will be use to transform teaching and learning. If they are going to do the same thing with new tools, then I suggest they save their time, effort and money.

The iPads are good for user consumption and self-directed learning. They are not quite there yet for various forms of user-generated content and meaningful collaborative work (e.g., shared Google Docs and wikis). Netbooks and laptops are far better options. However, they could be very powerful in the areas of art and music with the appropriate apps.

I think that adopting iPads because others are doing so without first examining context, capability and capacity to change will do more harm than good. The experiment is more likely to fail or be frowned upon. If this happens, subsequent ventures are less likely to be supported.

So it is my hope that educators avoid the cool tool trap and start by understanding their learners and designing learning experiences first. Then only should they think about how they might teach and what they might use to teach with. Or if they need to teach at all…

4 Responses to "iPad hype vs hope"

Amen!!!

Agree that the foremost consideration is for teachers to identify & leverage affordances of iPad (and similar handheld devices which would soon flood the market) viewed thru educators’ lens, beyond that of general consumers. An additional perspective i see as important to note is that many can be proficient users of iPad but not necessarily proficient in using it effectively as a teaching/learning enabler – something to consider before attempts to use a tech tool meaningfully in education can happen. Question is how might one cross over?

I think you have hit the issue on the head: Just because teachers are using a tool personally or socially (another example is Facebook) does not mean they can use them educationally.

I think that the first step in deep and meaningful personal use. This way teachers learn some of the affordances of the technology.

The third step is implementing a logical and sometimes incremental idea for change.

I think that the step between (the crossing over you mentioned) involves a combination of dreaming, daring and drive to think of ways to bridge this gap.

I think that a concrete way to dream is to participate in a personal learning network (PLN). This can be reading other educators’ blogs, tweets, FB walls, etc.

You can’t help but be inspired when you are around creative people. You can’t help but be moved by being around people who can’t keep still! And these folks can also be a source of support if you need it.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ashley Tan, Kwan Tuck Soon. Kwan Tuck Soon said: RT @ashley: iPad hype vs hope http://bit.ly/ayzSi7 [...]

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