iPads in school: a toy or a tool? – latimes.com

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iPads in school: a toy or a tool? – latimes.com.

2012-02-16_22-14-13_img_20120216_221414cWhile I have no doubt that some teachers in some schools are doing amazing things with technology, it bears repeating that it always has far more to do with the skills and dedication of the teachers than it has to do with the technology.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a HUGE fan of technology, BUT, most teachers, administrators, and even Education professors don’t know enough about technology to even assess it appropriately, never mind figure out how to use it effectively. I’m NOT talking about knowing what buttons to push, or how to get more apps, or or how to recharge it- there are lots of people who know how to operate their various mobile devices (for things like watching, browsing, and reading – all PASSIVE activities). Some people are even pretty good at using various apps to draw, or create presentations, or books, and so on.

What I AM talking about is the fact that most of these “experts” don’t know the first thing about how any of this stuff really works. They tell themselves that’s not important – that it’s the realm of those (egghead) IT folks (the ones most Education faculty LOVE to ridicule).

Well, I got news for you folks,

If you don’t know how this stuff works, you are at the mercy of those who do.

In far too many cases schools and administrators jump on the “let’s get this technology and be cool” bandwagon without even having the first idea why they want it and how they might use it.

When my son was in grade 2, his school got some funding for new computers. We went to the parent meeting to hear their plans. We sat quietly listening to the IT guys, principal and teachers talking about what kind of equipment to buy, what bells and whistles it should have, and what software they needed. After a while, we asked, “Have you given thought to how you plan to USE these new computers?” We both have advanced degrees in computer science, so it was known that we had some expertise in this area. You could have heard a pin drop. NO-ONE had an answer. To make matters worse, after some explanation for why this is not a key question, they went right back to talking about what to buy.

I suspect this is still common in most schools today. THAT is a big problem.

TechInEd     TechAsResearch   technophilia

And now her school district, which has laid off teachers and staff and eliminated programs because of budget problems, wants to spend several hundred million dollars on the latest electronic fad.

“There is still no evidence that iPads will increase student achievement at all. It’s not the hardware, it’s the software, and no studies have been done on the software apps in use, so no one knows,” said Cuban, who suggested the money might be better spent on training and recruiting teachers. “I’ve seen students with iPads and the novelty is there and the engagement is there, but it’s not clear that novelty and engagement will lead to increased academic achievement.” (Cuban)

It should be noted, as well, that people with ties to tech companies were among the major donors to a political action committee that supports Deasy-friendly school board candidates.


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