It is common for outsiders (like me) to picture America as:
- conservative (traditional and proud of their American way);
- security conscious (all ‘foes’ must be known and controlled);
- having a poor standardized public education system (Something the US is currently debating publicly – “Waiting for Superman”
If true, all 3 ‘generalizations’ would have an extremely detrimental effect on introducing iPads in schools. Below is a personal view of how these 3 factors will impact on the success of iPads in transforming American education.
- The new mobile world needs new thinking (not conservative)
I found a blog post, glowingly discussing the iPads potential to transform education and you might think I’d agree with it. But for me, most the writing and attached picture sum up all the obstacles facing iPad integration in the US. The article does mention collaboration and iMovie (specifically only in regards to FIlm courses), but essentially describes the iPad as a great note-taker, textbook and consumption device. That consumption is of the teacher’s education. In particular, the image advocates standardized education where one-size-fits-all and a teacher is the only source of learning. Here’s an indication of what I’m getting at in two images:
As a simple starting point, american schools must dismantle the traditional classroom layout which isolates the students as mere educational factory products and places the teacher at the centre of all learning. This is simply not the way the world operates anymore.
- The world no longer recognizes the carrot & stick external control.
One of the driving theories behind 20th century education was the idea that given a choice, students would not want to be at school. This thinking led to the traditional carrot and stick approach, where rewards were offered for conforming to the teacher’s demands and punishments issued for breaking from the “norm.” The article mentioned above, also positively refers to how “schools can be in control of what applications are on the device as well as what students do with it.” This desire for control is only needed within the out-dated education model that expects students to conform to an education put upon them rather than expecting them to enjoy exploring and understanding the world they live in. If it’s the school’s education, a student might not feel a connection and avoid it. This is where external control is required. If the education is student-centred and demands the student prove themselves within an open-ended model, then the student can genuinely connect as best suits them and the control measures will be detrimental to the freedom and thus are not required. The iPad is a personal device and pushes a personal education agenda. The iPad is not a school device, ready to deliver an externally controlled experience of the world. Read this book for more info.
- Poor education?
Until the US reduces its devotion to 1 & 2, and stops trying to press a pre-written education into every american, then iPads will never be allowed to transform learning. As I’ve mentioned before, The professional and personal worlds we now live in are both personally curated and social. Young people now have these factors as normal life expectations and school systems that isolate individuals physically & academically will not seem relevant and will cause disconnect and continue to fail.