With the launch of iPhone 4 this week, we move one step further along in the growing disconnect between the capabilities of technology and their prohibition in traditional factory-style of schools.
This cover of Education|Evolving strategy paper illustrates well the progression of telecommunications compared to the progression of school design:
Predictably, the response of school leaders to smart phones has been to resist them—to view them as a distraction with no value to add to the learning experience. Some teachers acknowledge that they may have a role to play, but they just do not know how to apply them.
But this begs the questions: In what context are they imagining using them? The ‘traditional school’ context? If smart phones and schools don’t ‘work’ together, maybe the problem is less with the students, technology, and teachers, and more with how we conceptualize ‘school’? If we can’t imagine how technology might be used for learning beyond putting a textbook onto a Kindle, then it’s no wonder computers in the classroom have been, as Larry Cuban put it, 2003, Oversold and Underused.
It has proved exceedingly difficult to properly apply new technologies in traditional schools to improve performance or cut costs. Yet both are possible, as shown in Monday’s post about Reasoning Minds adaptive program for learning math.
Now that the iPad is on the scene, this question is going to be pressed still further. ‘Game-changer’ or not, the potential for a less expensive way to arrange learning in some subjects seems obvious, in a medium that motivates the students.