The objective has to be learning, not just getting the technology out there

A school in Maine deployed iPads:

“classes using iPads … outperformed the ones without them in every literacy metric used.”

“The objective has to be learning, not just getting the technology out there”

“We are paying attention to app selection and focused on continuous improvement — we aren’t just handing equipment to teachers.”

“many educational institutions have not put in enough effort.”

It has never been about the “new and shiny” though detractors of 1:1 computing programmes have always used this as a defence against the investment in learning. This isn’t about putting Angry Birds into the hands of students or distracting them from their studies with FaceBook but rather adopting a permissive approach to technology. When you permit students to use technology in learning, they use technology in learning. Obviously. There’s no need to compete with FaceBook or BBM for attention if the materials and delivery are engaging.

Note that none of the quotes put the responsibility on teachers. But in the end it is the teachers who have to be engaged with the process before the students can be engaged. We’ve been thinking how the Department of Education in Northern Ireland (DENI) and the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) can help in this without just funding cheap iPads (which is not the desired end result). And it obviously has to be in the development of the curriculum and assessment of students.

In the interests of being pro-active, Momentum and Digital Circle are supporting the next TeachMEET in Belfast (because ICT pervades every teaching subject), have published a position paper on 1:1 computing (and the need to accelerate development of resources) and support the removal of ICT in its current for at GCSE and A-level (as it has become the 21st Century equivalent of Typing Class). We are also in the process of creating a new collaborative network for educational content and technology where we hope to bring together local industry, sectoral bodies, academic research and primary/post-primary education to attempt to resolve the big issues we see before us. From what we can see, we’ve inherited decades of legacy and centuries of process, something has to change.

Of course I’m interested, I’m a parent.

0 thoughts on “The objective has to be learning, not just getting the technology out there”

  1. You are so right Matt! Knowing how to use the tech is only one step; having students with shiny new tech (desktops, laptops, iPads etc) won’t change anything – it’s the learning process that changes. Teaching approaches need to integrate tech, creating real learning contexts with tech, so that learners become digitally literate but also are encouraged to have the confidence, motivation and skill to learn.

  2. There was a report recently on a college which deployed a test group of iPads and saw no difference. The problems I saw:

    1. There was no difference in delivery – they didn’t prepare content for iPad, nor did they require the iPad to be present.
    2. The iPads were loan machines. There was no way students would be able to personalise the machines over the duration of the study
    3. The iPad became another thing to carry, not an essential piece of the pie
  3. Youre over looking a huge part of the process!

    What about the teachers?!

    You can’t through in a shiny new toy and expect everyone to jump on board the very same day. Education of the teachers is of more importance at this stage. Get them up to speed on how iPads, tablets work and let them see how this can invigorate learning in their subject, then you’ll see better results in class learning.

    The problem is at the minute, teachers will see facebook and angry birds because that’s what they’re currently seeing in smartphones. And you will have those kids who will use it as an opportunity to waste time. For teachers, this is another innovation that will be thrown to them and left for them to police or manage.

    I say all this as an ict teacher and a parent.

    1. Did I overlook the teachers?

      I said:

      But in the end it is the teachers who have to be engaged with the process before the students can be engaged.

      Or the remainder of that paragraph or the next one?

      Honestly, is comprehension a lost art?

  4. My apologies, I did miss that – so we’re in agreement on it which I do find encouraging as usually people do not understand the issues involved in trying to get the same teacher who fought the introduction of the overhead projector interested or excited about the introduction of a tablet pc (luckily time is on our side to get round that problem).

    I think you say about the inclusion having to be meaningful and this is the central issue for everyone involved – but what do you do about the rapid rate at which apple are churning out new iPads? (I’m not suggesting they stop trying to make money but that schools will obviously have a limited budget and cannot afford to upgrade each year).

    My apologies do not extend to the gracious way in which you received my comments – you say comprehension is a lost art, while that may be in debate given the nature of my – lets say “clouded comprehension” at 8.53 this morning, the issue of being a gracious person seems to be words that do not connect in your vocabulary which would be a true pity if I’m correct

  5. Hi Michael, I was a little brusque but your impassioned comment did ignore the most salient point. So, unconditionally, I apologise.

    I don’t think schools should concern themselves with having the latest and greatest device. For most, iPad 1 is more than sufficient. For me, iPad 2 presents the best compromise (simply due to the cameras). iPad 3 with faster processors and retina screens will probably have to offer a lot more if it’s to displace iPad 2. (Not that I’m kidding myself here, of course I’ll buy). Are cameras useful, yes. Are they needed? No.

    Considering the cost vs benefit of Interactive Whiteboards, I’m surprised they were ever ratified for schools.

  6. Agreed, so we are friends again (!)

    I think on the version issue maybe an ipad is better than no ipad? But to throw in the network issue (being c2k -windows based and not the greatest in the world) what would you think about the forthcoming windows tablets? I suggest this as in my experience very few schools (i.e. the rich or really cool) have macs.

    What’s the issue with whiteboards? I know they’re pretty expensive, but in the whole I found them useful (I once taught a lesson on the vikings and showed the class with google maps how they invaded Paris by sailing down the Seine river – not the most innovative use of ICT I’ll grant you, but I impressed the socks of those p5 children!).

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