What Should we be Imitating?

An Interesting InfoGraphic done by graphic artist John Kumahara

It’s with some apology that I use the term “technology-infused.” At Educon in January, Chris Lehman used the term in one of his sessions, and upon asking us to discuss his posed question, I mentioned to the small group I was with my dislike for the term, after which one of the members, put on the spot to share something that we’d discussed, said, “Well David Warlick said he doesn’t even like the term.” Yikes!

It’s a good term. It’s just that using techno-centric terms tends to give people an underdeveloped idea of what our goal really is, which I would suggest is just what could happen (is happening) with the recent launch of Apple’s iPad. In Colleges Dream of Paperless, iPad-centric Education, author Brian X. Chen reports on three universities that are..

..getting pumped to hand out free iPads to students and faculty with hopes that Apple’s tablet will revolutionize education.

All three pre-ordered bundles of iPads, believing that they represent a potential end to printed textbooks. Among the advantages of the iPad (and tablets in general),

  • Faculty will be able to use more of a variety of textbooks, since digital versions will be less expensive.
  • Even though Apple has yet to announce any deals with textbook publishers (only popular ebooks), a third-party company currently offers 10,000 e-textbooks, which include titles from the five biggest textbook publishers. A subscription-based service, registered students can access the e-textbooks of their choice for a limited amount of time. The company has already announced an iPad app.

  • The iPad will likely not have the limitations that disappointed students who were involved in an e-textbook pilot at Princeton, using the Amazon Kindle DX.
  • Forrester analyst, Sara Rotman, said that,

    The iPad has far greater potential to succeed as an educational device than Amazon’s Kindle DX. Where the Kindle is sluggish, monochrome and limited in interactivity features, the iPad is fast, sports a colorful touchscreen and supports enough apps to cater to a broad audience of students.

“Cell phones and PDAs do not seem to be the primary device of choice that students want to bring with them into the classroom.” That’s what George Fox University found, when they piloted iPhones and iPod Touch devices, intending teachers to integrate apps into their curricula.

“We think the iPad will become the device students carry with them everywhere, and the laptop will become the base station in their dorm room,” said Greg Smith, chief information officer of George Fox University. “The iPad becomes the mobile learning device.”

Abilene Christian drew a different conclusion, where Bill Rankin, a medieval studies professor, called the iPhone program the “TiVoing of education,” because the iPhone enabled students to access to the information whenever and wherever they want it.

Rankin said,

This is really about people re-imagining what books look like — re-imagining something that hasn’t really been re-imagined in about 550 years.

I just hope that we use enough imagination.

I guess I have one real questions.

As we try to re-imagine how new, game-changing, technologies,

Should we be using textbooks and classrooms as the templates for our new visions — imitating “instruction”,

or

Should we be using something else as the template — the learning that we are all engaged in during a time of rapid change. Might we create a lifelong learning model, and aim our tech at that?

Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.