Words Matter | iPad


closeup of finger touching screen  on tablet-pc with shallow depth of fieldA tablet device from Apple Inc., currently in its second iteration, that runs things called apps (applications).  Wildly successful. Often labeled a “game-changer.”

Go to any education event now, and you’ll see them.  In fact, go anywhere.  They’re everywhere. I have one and its nice.  And I’ll even admit they’re pretty cool, slick devices.

That’s the problem.

Getting one is the first order of business.  Technology lust, big time.  Gotta have one.  Figuring how it can be used in a classroom is secondary.  Figuring how the device can be used to truly support a change in how students learn is, well, perhaps a third.  Figuring out the role that a  device like this will have in supporting a new type of school experience is the question I want answered.

From Apple: “From interactive iBooks Textbooks, to thousands of apps for learning, iPad is transforming the classroom.”

That’s a pretty bold statement.

Devices themselves do not transform classrooms.  They just don’t.  What device, or technology for that matter, has? The mightiest technology of them all, the Internet, hasn’t even transformed learning, at scale, across K-12 education.  And I offer a walk down any school hallway as evidence.

So, are you blinded by the glitz of the device?  By the apps?  By the swipe?  By the fact that its an Apple product?  What exactly is the thing that makes this device a “gotta have?”  What about the device makes you “think different?”

Will this device improve your instruction or their learning?  If you improve the first, is the second guaranteed?  It’s an important question but not the most important one.  A device in the hands of the teacher is fine, a first step perhaps, but things won’t change until a new vision of learning is forged, and everyone in the school is on board, and that vision becomes reality.

A device can be part of that, of course, but the most important change is the one in the human condition that sets aside tired, traditional practice, and embraces a new set of experiences that reinvent what school is and what it means.

How to make that happen is the true question of value.  Let’s talk devices after we answer that.

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