Food for thought Friday: Why most K-12 schools aren’t ready for the iPad Revolution

Via venturebeat

I read this article while I am in the midst of surveying the teachers of our school in order to take the pulse of the attitudes toward this new technology. It is asking some big questions, some that have been on my mind for a while:

As of February 2013, 4.5 million iPads had been purchased for use in the U.S. K-12 academic environment. One million of these purchases happened in Q2 of 2012 alone, which represented more than the total number of K-12 iPads purchased up to that point. The growth rate is staggering, and doesn’t show signs of slowing anytime soon. But are our schools ready for the iSwarm? Read more

Reimer brings up the issue of teacher planning as well as the prickly issue of the iPad being more of a consumption device as opposed to a creation device. Although I am currently preoccupied with the former challenge (how do you support the integration and implementation into the workflow of already over-worked teachers?) it is the latter that disturbs me the most:

There is essentially universal agreement that we need to invest heavily in STEM education, particularly from a human resource standpoint. Well, guess what: Handing a student an iPad won’t inspire them to build it or program it. You’d be better off giving them a graphing calculator or a cheap computer and teaching them to code.

I just recently introduced my eleven year-old daughter to Scratch a coding program meant for kids (ok- I introduced it to her last night). I got her started and then went for a run. By the time I got back, she had her cat dancing to a rhythm of her own making, changing colours and growing bigger, all with the code that she created. It is just a start, but I am interested to see how far she will take it.
There are certain things I don’t agree with- like the statement that most students would be only using their device for facebook and twitter. Don’t get me wrong, they will for sure be using all of those things quite a lot. But how are they using it? My elder daughter’s class have set up their own facebook grouptfor homework. If someone isn’t understanding, she logs in to the group and asks her question. Or facetime- yes, she uses facetime to talk to her friends but more often than not she is using it to connect to a project partner.
Yes they play games. Yes they spend a lot of time texting and chatting with their friends. But they also take notes on it, use it as their agenda, study with their teacher-created ibooks. A lot of them read and create their own writing on sites like wattpad.
I see the playing and socializing as a necessary colonization of a space they need explore in order to discover how it can be useful for them.
What do you think?



2 thoughts on “Food for thought Friday: Why most K-12 schools aren’t ready for the iPad Revolution

  1. This is an interesting topic. I have a daughter of 15 and a son of 12 who are both avid users of technology. They don’t have Ipads, but they have brand new laptops bought for them at Christmas. Both of them also have a desktop pc which have now been rendered largely redundant. I was initially worried by all the concerns you listed but I am coming to a realization that our children are an evolutionary progression that seem to be integrating technology into their personae in a way I never imagined. Their learning and adaptation are intuitive, and their appetites for knowledge prodigious, and they have long since surpassed my own technological level. They communicate with their cousins on the other side of the world through Skype and Facebook as casually as I might chat to a friend in the street, and they have developed networking and researching skills that make me think that they could already hold down jobs if society allowed. My biggest fear, that they would use these tools only for play, has not materialised and last night my daughter gave me the ultimate confirmation that the decision to ‘tech’ the kids was a good one. I received a comment from her on wordpress, she has started a blog for creative writing, and to post her photography.

    • Thanks very much for your comment and kudos to your daughter!That has been experience as well with the students as well as my own daughters. They continually surprise me with their innovative, collaborative and efficient use of the technology. I am not saying they don’t use it sometimes as their own entertainment unit, but I’m not convinced that is a bad thing, as long as it doesn’t take over their life. When it does threaten to do so, hopefully their is a support network at home and at school to help the student keep on track.

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