From Channel One to iPads: Our Fascination with School Technology

Remember Channel One?  Remember when the tv's showed up in our classrooms, amazingly free of charge and Anderson Cooper got his big break as a teen a.m. news anchor?  Those were supposed to change the way we do school.

And then there were Smartboards.

And laptops.

And now we have iPads.  If you've followed the recent circus in Los Angeles and their multimillion dollar rollout of iPads to students, you're probably wondering about whether or not iPads actually make a difference in learning.  

Me too- actually my doctoral dissertation is on that very topic so it's a big deal when one of the nation's largest school districts decides to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into a technology just four years old.  

To see the latest on the L.A. fumble, click here.   Turns out they may be changing course and rethinking their decision.  

That's too bad since iPads actually do have a positive impact on schools IF deployed thoughtfully.  They might help to bridge the digital divide as they are doing in one poor California district.  There are some best practices that ensure for a smoother deployment and actual benefits from using iPads. 

But all of this misses the point- if you're focused too much on the tool, a school may miss out on the real point of schools: learning.  Just like in your backyard when the leaves fall from the trees, you need the right tools to wrangle them into piles.  Still, you're going to need a rake or two and maybe a tarp to move the leaves after you've piled them up.  You'll still need to sweat and reserve several hours to get the job done. 

It's not about the tools- it's about the work.  

If a school is focusing too much on iPads and not as much on teachers and kids, it's deployment of expensive tablets will probably fail.  

What aspect of technology is currently helping with learning in your school?

Web/Tech, School, iPadsMike StPierre