Exploring the use of iPads and mobile devices in education.
Now there's a bright child with a future! Everyone finds the response extremely amusing … but then I’ll ask whether the student answered the question correctly. Inevitably, someone points out that although the answer was technically correct, it was incorrect within the context in which it was asked. The teacher wasn’t asking about the physical location of the letter “x”. The question required a mathematical analysis.
The same analogy can be drawn about our educational institutions. Education can’t operate in a void. Our schools have a role within the context of greater society. In order to be effective, we have to examine the degree to which we’re preparing our students for life in that framework. The more that life in, and outside of school starts diverging, the less relevant institutional education becomes for our students.
So what's happening to our lives outside of school? Here's a quick snapshot of some recent statistics:
Technology is transforming every aspect of our daily lives. Even further, the ways in which children access, absorb and process information is changing as a result of their exposure to technology. When you walk into many schools however, you still find technology used sparingly. The average classroom today looks much like it may have 50 years ago. School policy usually requires that students put away any devices they own. The predominant technology used in schools today is the interactive white board – a technology used primarily by teachers at the front of the room. When technology is used it’s often to facilitate outdated, frontal teaching styles rather than to empower and enable student centered learning through the use of devices such as iPads, laptops and smartphones.
Outside of school students interact with their devices for several hours every day. When they come to campus however, they're often still expected to sit still and listen to a teacher. In one survey taken a few years ago, only 28% of students believed their schoolwork was “meaningful”. Society is in the midst of an incredible, technology based revolution yet schools remain relatively unchanged. Are they preparing children for a society that has long since vanished? Have they lost touch with the communities they serve?