Public schools are adding tablets and laptop computers into their educational programs in record numbers. One of the main reasons educators cite for this proliferation of technology is a variation of this thinking:
“The jobs of the future will be using technology and computers and students need to learn them to be prepared for the workplace.”
One educator had his sixth grade students create ad campaigns for cars they designed using apps on an iPad. He told the Guardian about how the process worked in his classroom:
“Allowing the children to work in this manner shifted the learning from teacher-centred to child-centred. Children could work at their own pace without having to wait for further instructions from the teacher.”
Sounds great for the teacher. But this is the wrong approach to integrating technology in the classroom.
As anyone with a three-year-old will tell you mastering an iPad, iPhone or iPod takes about three minutes – tops. Apps – for the most part – are simple to use requiring an ability to peck, point and swipe your fingers. And while you can create amazing things with apps, most of the work is done by the technology – not by the person.
This isn’t learning – or creating.
Technology in the classroom should not mean mastering hardware or current software – because by the time these students are ready for the job marketing the hardware and software they learned on is already obsolete.
What iPads and laptop computers add to the classroom is distraction. Say what you will about a hard-covered textbook, but when you open it to read that’s all you can do – read it. When you try to read or focus on an iPad or a computer there are literally dozens, if not hundreds of distractions: email, Twitter, Facebook, Google Searches, Wikipedia, Instagram, YouTube, iTunes, games (thousands of games!) and the internet.
There are bells, beeps, whistles and flashing icons on your screen – all demanding attention. iPads are perfectly manufactured interruption devices. Distractions everywhere that aren’t available with a piece of paper, a book or a chalkboard.
What technology in the classroom should mean is learning how to code. Learning how technology works – both software and hardware. It should mean math, problem solving and creating things from scratch – not learning how to use apps. Teach kids to write software. Teach them how technology works – the concepts and ideas behind using it solve problems.
That’s what technology in the classroom should mean. We need to be teaching children to be thinkers. They need to learn reading, writing, mathematics and science. They need to learn how to solve problems and create things.
Learning how to use an iPad? Or an app?
iPads in the Classroom via The Guardian
More High Schools Implement iPad Programs via U.S. News & World Report