Exploring the use of iPads and mobile devices in education.
…at least not the way Apple wants you to. If I find a new way to use the device, sync it with a non apple item (I recently used the iPAD to upload ramblings from my dusty AlphaSmart – to see if it could be done, Apple genius’ at the local store simplye and rather insolent response was “Apple doesn’t support that.”
What if I told a student who developed a wonderfully creative way to reach senior community members in a service project, through social Media that “We don’t support that.” Better yet – what if a drug company’s execs told research scientists who found a new use for an existing pharmaceutical that simply “We don’t support that.” What would the student or scientist do? Well, if they believed in themselves enough, I would hope they continue to bring their ideas to someone who WOULD listen. We cannot possibly be so arrogant in this day and age to suggest that if our engineers didn’t think up of all the possible uses for a device, than that use couldn’t possibly exist. Think sticky-notes (3M’s famous accidental discovery), think TNT, think well, we know the list goes on.
My first point is simply that in the age of competition, hacking (slick name for re-purposing) and the multi-million dollar industry of DIY, people out there will continuously try new things and new ideas. If companies don’t want to hear it, will creative minds just go somewhere else?
How did I get on this track? In a recent attempt to stay current, our school has recently made the leap to provide not only iPads as an available technology to classes, like the laptop carts and desktops in labs, we have also committed to giving out iPads to students as they arrive in the 9th grade year…..
As I am digging for content and apps that fully utilize the adoption of the new technology, I can’t help but think of the ‘geeks’ that will blaze new trails in the use of the device. Why the geeks? Geeks are celebrated for not only learning about something – but fully engrossing themselves in all the possible ways of using something, and the many ways that were not developed or intended…… We laugh at the comment ‘geek’ but stand beffled at those who have figured out how to wire a keyboard to an iPad, or Sync an iPod touch to an iPad, or whatever… What can the early adoptrs teach us about how to use the device, but more importantly – how will they, using social swarms or other underground networks, drive the evolution of the device – or perhaps move away from the device.
My frustration was realized yesterday when i went to my local MAC store. the geniuses are perhaps mislabelled – and should instead be called MAC MONITORS, like those who in days passed wore the ‘HIT ME FIRST” vests when we got on and off the busses, they reminded us of the rules and what we can and cannot do. ”NO RUNNING!!” the hall monitors would shout, “SIT DOWN” says the student bus MONITORS.
It was the suggestion that if they (MAC MONITORS) didn’t know something about the device (or multiple devices – I had and how I already use the device – that I couldn’t do what I am already doing.
< I Carry two laptops, an iPAD, and iPOD touch, a mini document scanner, a document camera, and countless USB, SD and microSD cards, and adapters, 30pin, and video adapters for my mobile class kit>
Don’t get me wrong – MAC certainly has a place in the technology market, and has always embraced and supported the K12 educational realm, but has not perhaps been as receptive to the Geeks outside the realm of MAC MONITOR world.
But…I am not going to go entirely MAC, I will still carry a PC laptop or CHROME book, and will stil hold onto my droid phone. But the report cards that the MAC MONITOR takes home will continue to report “DOESN’T PLAY WELL WITH OTHERS.” As teachers of technology – we are always looking for 100 different ways to teach the same thing, and find cheap computing solutions that allows everyone to play in the sand box – whether a CHROME book, that incorporates open source community, the Raspberry PI (Still waiting for my beta to come to me….nudge-nudge, wink, wink, say no more!)
The point is – that as technology providers come and go – and companies realize the new economic model of mobile computing lies in ‘fill the device pricing gap with a mobile apps market place” – ie Google buying Moto… etc) – Apple will not always stand out front….
….and more and more – K12 embassadors and preachers, like Tom Whitby, Couras, and Andy Schwen, who are giving teachers a little Nitrous – put us in the ring and may begin to promote the next device that plays well with others and allows a little tweaking to make it work with keyboards, or open up to a little modding – without jailbreaking the device or destroying the warranty.
I realize I am not going to change production lines of the device – but - like all things we can change in the world – Economics is at the heart of everything – schools will speak with their $$$ – and if you don’t allow us to truly own and adapt the device, how will we heartily adopt it as an indispensable learning and consumption device?