Has it really come to this? Where the iPad is believed to be the thing that will transform education and solve all its problems? Well let's put this into a better perspective: the iPad is only a tool for learning. It does not, by itself, actively "teach" children, it's only anenabler. The iPad is only as good as the applications that are used on it, which can range anywhere between downright downright garbage to "enlightening".
What worries me is that the iPad alone cannot be the answer to solving the vast educational woes of our world which are deeply mired in bureaucracy, change aversion, institutionalization and more importantly: lack of proper focus on the things that matter most.
Children need more quality time to engage in what interests and inspires them. They need the right tools and resources to help them learn. They need the right people cheering them on and they need to understand how they learn so they can keep moving forward. The iPad by itself cannot provide all of this.
In his 2012 talk at Learning Without Frontiers, Anthony Salcito, the Global VP of Education at Microsoft, discussed the importance of moving beyond the "automation" phase of technology where people celebrate and put faith into the simple digitization of books and resources as answers to larger educational issues. He argues that the devices and digitized resources themselves do not create change. The learning that focuses only on digitization still remains linear without the child utilizing abstract or critical thinking skills.
What needs to happen is to engage the students through relevance, personalization and building emotional connections. Technology has the potential to give students great access to information but they now need to be given opportunities to demonstrate creative and innovative ways to use that information.
Teaching to the test and test results have very little value in our now-creative-world. It no longer matters ifPerson A has more knowledge than Person B becausePerson B can use his phone, connect to Google and get even more information than Person A in about 2 minutes. The real value is in the practical applications of that information or knowledge. Now that you have that knowledge, what can you do with it?
So while everyone is still touting the values of the iPad as a revolutionary answer to deep educational problems, we've discovered that the answer is really very simple: it's how teachers will use the iPad to enhance their students' knowledge for many different purposes and problems. It might be that they can create more integrated or creative projects, connect with other people/learners, acquire new strategies to apply to their learning or to deepen their emotional connections to issues or solutions.
Learning in the 21st century must transform the journey for students from a linear path to a multi-dimensional, creative and intrinsically-rewarding experience. We need to fundamentally change the role of educators so that they are prepared to facilitate and guide this process successfully. So while you invest heavily in iPads, make sure that you're also investingmore in your teachers who will help every student to reach new heights in their learning.
Watch Anthony Salcito's inspiring and interesting talk here: