Exploring the use of iPads and mobile devices in education.
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in new eyes.” -Marcel Proust
A recent conversation between 2 of my students went something like this:
“I saw a python in my yard over spring break.”
“No way! Pythons don’t live here.”
“Yeah huh I really did. I bet you $10. Have you ever seen one?”
“No. Only on tv.”
“Dude, come look on my iPad. I will show you one.”
At that point, they went over to their iPads. They promptly opened up Safari, Google-searched pythons and went straight to Wikipedia. They started reading what pythons eat and looked at pictures of pythons. Then, a terrible, awful, discovery…pythons do not live in Charleston. Oops.
*Silence* Well, this is awkward.
Haven’t we all insisted something was right and we were oh-so-wrong? We all have misconceptions and young children are no different. Sometimes it’s difficult to let go of those misconceptions. In this case, the students solved their own problem. They were forced to look at something in a different way. Problem solving and discovery often mean a change in thinking, a change in how we look at something, a paradigm shift.
Many school districts are looking at a change in how they do education. Decisions are being made about whether to try iPads or some other tablet. Discussions are being had about what is the best way to proceed. Arguments are taking place about whether teachers and students need this technology. The misconception exists that young students can’t handle iPads. I have taught for 22 years without iPads and just over 1 year with them. In the past, I’ve had as many as 4 desktop computers in my classroom and as few as 1. (I currently have none.) The problem with the desktop computers was lack of access. There was no way all 30 students could get on the computers in a meaningful way on a daily basis. How many times a day do you use your smart phone to look up something, get directions, make a reservation, look up a phone number, text someone, send an email or take a picture? Accessibility to information is a critical part of learning. The students in the verbal exchange written above would have either argued their way through the python dilemma or they would’ve come to me to solve it. I am not a paid Apple representative, nor do I play one on TV…but what I know for sure is the accessibility and convenience of the iPad allow students and teachers to approach learning in a whole new way…with a new set of eyes.
“Dude…you owe me $10.”