The Orewa College scenario (all kids get ipads, its a stationery item) happened at a slow news time in the NZ school holidays but it certainly highlighted a few different issues within education. Paying for our own technology seems very anti “free education” however we seem to be increasingly paying for everything, and if this has benefits for our childrens education then can we afford not to. Some schools have creatively solved this issue by making the device and the internet affordable and children are able to work to pay for there own technology. Factors might be how long will your iPad/netbook last? Imagine asking parents to pay between $400 & $1000 and you need a new one in 24 months. How about all this purchase/investment in technology only to discover that your school has no idea how or what to do with the hardware. Imagine schools wasting kids time with digital portfolios of kids that teachers spend hours on, only to discover they made no impact on learning. Or doing electronic worksheets because you can. The worry could also be schools just wanting to keep up with their neighbours by jumping on the band wagon.
So we need to know what actually does make a difference and then make a plan for how. Nearly every school I talk to have an ipad trial, I'm wondering how they sync, what apps they use and importantly what is at the center of their decisions schoolwide and in classrooms, no question its piecemeal.
I have been lucky enough to get an opportunity to actually do some research into mobile learning. I have been granted the Auckland Primary Schools Association Traveling Fellowship Award. This means that in 2012 I have been granted two terms leave to travel the world to look at mobile learning. My goal is to shake aside the rhetoric and schools wanting to buy gear without making good decisions, replacing them with decisions that put learning in the center.
I will be asking my twitter, Principal and ADE networks for help with finding time to talk and share with me. It will mean lots of NZ travel as well as looking across the pond (Cadel country) the USA and beyond. It should be exciting and probably about three years too late in terms of 1 to 1 mobile devices but regular schools will be taking a bit of time. The early adopters are already over the line, and I hope they are starting to provide the evidence later adopters need.
A few years back I had a friend ring me asking if I wanted to be a millionaire, I said yeah mate, turns out he was selling Amway and wanted me to join him in the money. I said I would wait three years and when he was millionaire he could ring me and I would start then, I was happy to wait. So if you are waiting a bit to see what happens with these ipads then a few months more wouldn't be too long (he never rang back, some mate).
If you are a school or district or cluster who have the mobile devices rampant and are making connections beyond the classroom then I'd love to hear from you. I'm interested in sync, infrastructure, apps, research and more importantly learning/teaching/kids.
I wouldn't mind hearing from people about their thoughts on having a device on their stationery list.