I have a headache. Not a large headache, just a small one. And “today’s headache” revolves around this nugget of goodness.

http://www.gazettetimes.com/news/opinion/mailbag/letter-ipad-buyers-wrong-in-thinking-high-tech-yields-better/article_29324aea-37bc-11e3-bf28-0019bb2963f4.html

Read it first…I’ll wait. <tap tap tap>

Okay, where do we start this?

Apparently, this is a newspaper in Oregon. The author of the letter, a Sravya Tadepalli from Corvallis apparently, absolutely, completely misses the point.

Without any other research than THIS letter, it appears that the school board is purchasing 6,000 iPads to replace textbooks. Not a bad idea, as things go. We have learned from multiple incidents that if you give a kid tech, the natural extension of that is to HACK it. (Haven’t heard? go read! https://www.google.com/search?q=kids%20hack%20school%20ipads)

But back to the letter.

Our guest states that “Corvalis isn’t particularly resource-lacking”. Great for them…too many school districts ARE resource lacking. So, we can infer that the school is doing “okay” enough to be progressive. GREAT!

Now, our guest says “Our library has several computers available for public use, as well as iPads available for check out. If the school district is going to distribute iPads to students, the iPads should be distributed selectively to the kids who do not have computer access, not the kid who has an iPhone, iPad and two Macs.”

So, question: Who decides which kid gets what item? So SOME students get the device, and SOME don’t, if they have one in the home. What if mom or dad have ONE iPad for the house, and Junior can’t take it to school. If you are going to equip all the students, you have to equip ALL the students. That’s the concept of having all devices on the same platform, OS, etc. Obviously our writer is NOT a tech geek, and knows nothing of the pain of repairing and maintaining a mixture of devices. So we’re already “off to the races” with someone who….just…doesn’t…know.

Oh, and imagine the classroom scene when some precious snowflake goes “I got an iPad and you didn’t, nyah nyah.” Great, give these kids something ELSE to start on another kid for. Great plan!

Another quote: “The district also argues that students will be responsible with the iPads based on the reasoning that kids are responsible with textbooks and expensive calculators. However a textbook does not break when dropped on the ground.”


Now, this is partially true. Books HAVE broken on a fall. However, trying to update a printed textbook is, well, painful. Remember he World Book Encyclopedia set? And every year you got to pay for a “19XX Year Update”.
Yeah, that worked. <rolls eyes>

Our letter writer is absolutely, completely, unequivocally CORRECT on the next quote:

“The district also wants iPad technology to replace textbooks, to save resource funds. But iPads would have to be updated just as often as textbooks. And iPads aren’t simple devices; iPads contain the tantalizing fruit of … the Internet.”

Well, they don’t “contain” the Internet. They are like “digital on-ramps” and if you click the Google link above, you can see the kids do just that. The big problem is…items that use “the demon Internet” are the learning resources that you want to include anyway. Things like Khan Academy, you know, things to LEARN with. So let’s just control that level of access….and the kids will just hack into it and push the laughable controls right out of the way.

I can go as far as to say “hey, most of these textbooks are online” (full disclosure: my daughter’s school has at least two of her textbooks online….I think i saw her carry a vocab book once this year so far. ) so maybe a good solution is to use the iPad devices at school, and leave them there. You know, in a homeroom charging station or something …
(yes Virginia there IS a Santa Claus – http://www.google.com/search?q=ipad+charging+station+multiple+ipads)

So you can use the cheaper digital textbook on the iPad at school, and the online one at home. Ta-Da! Drop in a rule that says “they can’t leave the building without a signed note from the Head of Ed Tech and the Principal” and BOOM! Done!

Our dear letter writer leaves us with a nugget of happiness:

“iPads are no replacements for the teacher and textbook, and they never will be. iPads will not make the classroom “come alive.” Rather, the classroom will die while technology thrives.”

Now where do we start? Every “flipped classroom” and site has said again….and again….and again…..that technology is no replacement for quality instruction. They ARE a great investment to replace the books, but NEVER to replace the teacher. You cannot replace a quality instructor to guide, teach, and mentor. But replace $5000 in textbooks that are obsolete when printed? Uh, yeah you can.

Like any other piece of educational technology…a well trained and engaged educator with good quality tech can teach much more effectively and, god forbid, cause a student to …THINK and become more engaged because helps the student make the connection to the material.

And maybe, just maybe….we can stop teaching to the test and instead teach to the student.

Wouldn’t that be a great idea?

As for our letter writer Stravya, all I can say is that she won’t be “giving an Apple to the teacher”, and her essay gets a C-.

<pun intended>

 

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