Another dot in the blogosphere?

Are you guilty?

Posted on: May 30, 2016

When I read an article that claimed even Apple is acknowledging that the “iPads in education” fad is coming to an end, I came to one conclusion: The article was guilty of misdirection.

The article pointed in every direction except the important one, i.e., how schools might buy technology and head in the wrong direction.

The title of the article was clickbait. It lured with the possibility of reading about how Apple admitted wrong even though there is no mention of it.

There was mention of Apple being “disappointed” by a survey’s results and the company allowing a district to switch iPads for MacBook Airs. However, the report did not state that Apple actually acknowledged that iPads in education was a fad and that it was coming to an end.

The article is guilty of misdirection, just like the school district, its leaders, and its teachers might have been. How do I know?

Consider teacher comments and statements like these:

  • “Largely gaming devices.”
  • “Students use them as toys. Word processing is near to impossible.”
  • One teacher in Virginia thought giving her third graders an iPad would enhance their learning.
  • According to one of the teachers surveyed, tablets provided “no educational function in the classroom.”

The kids are likely to expect to use iPads in school the same way they use them outside school, e.g., to play games, to watch YouTube videos, to chat with friends. If adults are honest, that is how they use devices like iPads too.

Yet the expectations of adults or teachers is not that of kids. They are unrealistic and even ridiculous.

If they would not consider typing on an iPad screen, why should they expect their students to do so? That said, kids who get used to typing on a screen might surprise adults who think that this is an inferior process.

The language of teachers reveals evidence of fixed mindsets. For example, teachers expect the iPad to enhance learning. Why merely enhance and not actually enable learning? (The former makes the technology optional while the latter makes it essential.)

If a teacher complains that the devices have “no educational function”, what functions do they mean? Are they thinking about more efficient delivery of content, ready-made tests that are quickly and easily scored, and babysitting devices?

Are teachers expecting iPads to do what can already be done? Or are they willing to change and try something new, different, and better?

Incidents like the ones reported in the article seem to keep playing on a loop everywhere. They are reminders to leaders and teachers not to get devices without rigorous professional development that changes the mindsets and expectations of teachers. Only then might behaviours change.

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