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Where is Tech Taking Our Students?

Science Under the Microscope

WhereAs a techie, I couldn't be more excited for the iPad, but as a teacher, I wonder if its an anti-learning technology.

 

I am usually considered something of an Apple fanboy. I own an iPhone (my third), and use my MacBook for just about everything I do (including writing this column). I drool over every new Apple product, even the ones I can't afford or have no need for.

 

The iPad is no exception. While I clearly don't need it as much as I do an upgraded laptop, I am excited by the way it can revolutionize the reading of books (and comic books!), surfing the web, watching TV/movies, and even just "living room" computing in general. While it is not a replacement for a full laptop, it is a fantastic tool for the storage and consumption of media.

 

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And that's where my concern kicks in.

My thoughts echo those of Ira Socol in his recent post at the blog SpEdChange in which he expresses:

I'm here, rather, to be against educators rushing to embrace a controlled consumption tool. I believe that education needs to be significantly about creation, and I believe that education is best served when knowledge flows freely - both with ease and at the lowest possible cost. So I do not want schools embracing a technology which limits creation, and I do not want to deliver our students as customers to Apple or Amazon. We've spent a century delivering them to textbook publishers, and it is time to stop. full post

The exploration that comes with working as group to make something is incredibly crucial to the learning process. Students need to talk things out and synthesize new products in order to truly integrate new knowledge into their existing schemata. And, there is no better way to assess a student's understanding than to examine the process and product of their creative enterprise.

 

The iPad is not, in its essence, a creative tool. There will certainly be applications for sale in the App Store that can be used to create--painting programs or video editing tools--but there are cheaper and more effective ways to accomplish these tasks. Putting in every classroom will mean leading our next generation of children even further down the path of mindless media consumption. That is not the future that I want for my children, or that any of us should want for our country.

How do you feel about the iPad as a learning tool? Share in the comments section!