Fear mongering titles and personal bias’ should not be a part of the discussion on education … Should they?

featured image of post it note setting agenda of biasFear mongering titles and personal bias’ should not be a part of the discussion and investigation of Mobile Learning Devices running iOS and Android. Headlines such as, “Horrified by Schools That Give Every Student an iPad” are good for stirring up conversations but they tend to focus on the wrong questions and answers to make a proper determination about what technology can and should be used in school districts.  The real “horror” for education would be to let personal bias from a critic who is not in the trenches with proper perspective to make a determination on what is effective for schools.

Let’s agree that effective lessons on the implications of technology including ethical use, digital citizenship, and Internet safety are critical to using technology properly in education.  I agree that “There’s a danger in teaching kids to inherently trust technology without being more critical of it.” but I will not agree that this has anything to do with whether or not to implement iPads in schools.  Let’s just leave this particular discussion by saying that we need to talk with students about the implications of this technology.  I would rather have that discussion in an educational setting instead of student’s learning this lesson on his or her own without anyone’s guidance.

Whether or not the iPad is more than a consumption device has been proven out.  Do these Apps change your view of the iPad as Consumption Devices? Regardless of your opinion of the apps mentioned in that blog entry, the argument that one cannot produce effectively with the iPad is simply wrong.  Tony Vincent is one of the finest professional development experts in education.  Spend some time at Tony’s site and listen to him present and you will be hard pressed to not appreciate the effectiveness of these devices afterward.  The iPad is not holding users back from producing; it is the lack of creativity from those that do not appreciate and grasp the true capabilities of the device.  This discussion is reminiscent of hardcore book lovers who refuse to appreciate the capabilities of electronic reading devices because of their personal bias for wood pulp and glue.  Don’t let your personal appreciation or disdain for a technology cloud your judgment on effective implementation in a classroom.

The implication that a lack of “multi-tasking” is impeding kids learning is wrong.  This is simply a personal observation and not based on an understanding of the day-to-day classroom experience.  We can definitely argue over the quality of the iPad’s multi-tasking capabilities but this would really come down to personal bias.  Shifting between applications on an iPad is more than effective for classrooms because students do not work in environments as described in the article.  Students are engaged in learning activities on a regular basis that look quite different from someone working at a desk with a multitude of materials at one’s disposal.  Effective pedagogy focuses on a myriad of learning experiences that can and do take advantage of the finest aspects of the iPad and those aspects need to be celebrated for their superiority. Once again, I would rather turn to an expert like Tony Vincent and his thoughts on these devices.  Tony has a fantastic post on Problem Based Learning that provides an excellent example of how these devices can be used effectively by educators and students.  As a matter of fact, one could make an argument that these devices are superior to anything available for education because of the procedure for multi-tasking with the device.

To properly evaluate whether or not schools should adapt technology, I suggest you start with David Jakes thoughts on, “What makes technology “Sticky” for schools?”  He identifies seven factors of “stickiness”:

1.  The innovation must have multiple entry points.
2.  The teacher becomes a confident, active, and visible user.
3.  There must be a high degree of organizational readiness for the innovation.
4.  The innovation must clearly address an instructional need, with benefits for both teacher and student.
5.  The technology has been taken out of the technology, or innovation.
6.  The innovation must add value to an instructional process.
7.  There must be visible and tangible results indicating that the innovation improves student learning.

Every school district is different and they all have a unique climate and culture. I cannot and will not argue that the iPad is the perfect fit for every school district.  I simply do not believe in the one-size fits all model for anything.  My research and experience with these devices has me convinced that the iPad does meet the “sticky” criteria effectively as a whole.  Whether or not a district is organizationally ready is something that each district will have to answer prior to any implementation.

When evaluating the iPad and other devices, one can not focus solely on the negatives of the device.

– Scott Meech

Daniel Rezac says:
I agree with you Scott, but what is more troubling is that HuffPo would allow someone to criticize the iPad as an education tool, when his background as an educator is suspect or even non-existent. It appears that Mr. Belinsky is more of a Social Media and Digital Frontier guy, that is looking to “educate” the masses on the power of media. That’s a far cry from being an educator.

Judith Epcke says:
Certainly everyone is entitled to his opinion, but I wonder what Mr. Belinsky is basing his opinion on besides two articles about use of iPads in schools and the Rushkoff book? Perhaps after reading some of the suggested reading and research, or visiting some schools where they are being used he will rethink his position after a more balanced view of the subject. I’d also like to hear more about the “interactive curriculum” Mr. Belinsky mentions. As Scott points out, the iPads is not a magic bullet for education, but the horrifying part, in my opinion, is that their merits are being judged without considering the success stories as well.

What do you think?

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  1. Just this quote and a little background checks reveals a lot…

    “To truly learn about how to orient ourselves to the democratic society within which we live, it’s hard to believe that learning through a centralized and strict system is the best way to go. Open source software intrinsically reflects the values of our society – it is transparent, accountable, and efficient. As our government is increasingly built on this framework, from the new open data repositories to the sites themselves, as well as our corporate enterprise infrastructure. It’s crucial to teach our kids with tools that reflect this world.”

    Note on top of this quote is that Mark’s family fled the Soviet Union. So I think if we reread this article and look at his complaint from the position that he is against closed systems and centralized control and being passive sheep (have you read Animal Farm, lately?) then the context of the article takes a whole new direction.

    I’m not saying he’s right, but I understand a little more.

    That and I would like full disclosure on his financial assets. :)


    • Daniel Rezac

      Mr. Belinsky’s post is symptomatic of those folks who don’t “get” the iPad and its possibilities. The iPad is a modular device with 4500 education apps- and it’s not even a year old! How can you disrespect the ecosystem of this device? I don’t think you can, even if you don’t like the Apple company. The community of support surrounding this device is greater than Apple; it’s bigger than the corporation.