iPads in Education

Exploring the use of iPads and mobile devices in education.

Are Schools Struggling to Remain Relevant in the 21st Century? Arguing the Case For Technology...

I often give workshops in schools where we discuss the changing nature of education in the 21st century. Whenever possible, I’ll try to integrate student images and stories as a way of illustrating points. The following image of a student response to a question on a test always manages to get a tremendous laugh:

 

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:

  • Around 1.5 billion mobile phones were sold worldwide in 2010, and over 20% were smartphones
  • 9 out of 10 people in the USA own cell phones
  • There were over 5 billion mobile phone subscribers in 2010 – out of a world population of 6.8 billion!
  • More children aged 7-16 years old own a mobile phone than own a book - 85% own phones versus 72% that own a book at home
  • The average teen looks at a screen for more hours annually than the time they spend in class
  • Facebook has accumulated a user base of over 500 million registered users in 6 years
  • It’s estimated that on any given day, around 50% of users log in to Facebook
  • Communications mediums such as Facebook and Twitter are now viewed as such key elements in distributing information that they were banned in Egypt during the recent uprising
  • The average smartphone today has many more times the computing power than all NASA's computing resources when it first landed man on the moon

 

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?

 

Sam Gliksman

Email: samgliksman@gmail.com

Twitter: @samgliksman

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Comment by Sam Gliksman on February 6, 2011 at 11:52am

Definitely Leanne. Here's the source for that study:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/7763811/Children...

Comment by Leanne Windsor on February 6, 2011 at 11:31am

HI Sam,

Thanks for your interesting & provocative post. Do you have sources for your stats? I would like to quote some of these but need a source...most particularly interested in the phone vs book ownership one.

 

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