One of the sessions I attended at the ISTE 10 conference was Elliott Soloway and Cathie Norris’s entitled: “From Add-on Technology to Essential Technology: Constructing 1-to-1 Aware Curriculum”. It is hard to go wrong with a session by Elliott Soloway, his humor is contagious.
I was interested in this session because I am currently working on a proposal for a 1-to-1 iPad pilot program and study for next year. I came away with some new perspectives on mobile technologies that I will share at the end of the post. To begin, here is the gist of the session:
- “Within 5 years every child in every grade will be learning with mobile technology, it will be bigger than the Internet”- Elliott Soloway
- There are 7 billion people on the planet and 4 billion mobile devices.
- The greatest challenge we face as educators is to teach ALL kids. We need to teach kids “brain jobs” not “back jobs”. This is 21st Century skills and content.
- “Right now looking at all the school data is just like moving deck chairs around on the Titanic.” – Elliott Soloway
- Mobile technology is the game changer.
- In Singapore, Nan Chi Primary school saw a significant increase in tests scores after introducing smart phones in the 3rd grade science classroom.
- In a classroom using 1 to 1 mobile devices, not a single child failed to turn in a single homework assignment all year. Why did that happen? Because they are engaged.
- Time on task = success
- The tools have to be used as essential tools, not supplementary. Supplementing with technology doesn’t move the needle. Essential means that technology is in hand 24/7 students have complete access to the tool. Essential means that students are actively engaged in doing and creating. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t other tools being used.
- Most things can be done on a mobile phone device.
- Mobile devices connect students to the real world. Learning doesn’t end when school does.
- When you look closely at the studies that show that technology has no impact, you will see that it is because technology was used as a supplement.
- Technology should be like oxygen, invisible but essential.
- Mobile devices like the cell phone are ideal because the cost of the device is $0 and what you pay for is the connectivity. It is a cheap solution.
- It is about the kids, not the technology. Let them use their own tools.
- Mobile devices are growing at a rate of 50% a year, this is the fastest growing technology. We used to tell teachers to get on the technology bus, now we have to say get on the technology bullet train because it is moving!
- Elliott mentioned that he doesn’t think that the iPad has a place as a learning device. His reasoning is that it isn’t what kids are using. He argues that kids are using cellphones and mobile devices, that the iPad isn’t natural for them.
Elliott was an excellent presenter. He made some great points about using cellphone technology in the classroom. I have to disagree with his assessment that the iPad isn’t a good device for kids. While I like the idea of using cellphone technology and just paying for connectivity, it isn’t what every classroom needs. The conclusion that I kept coming to is that no classroom situation is the same. While an inner city school with low access to technology and resources might benefit best from a smart phone for learning, it might not make the same sense in a suburban school with more ubiquitous technology access. In a poorer neighborhood you will find homes that lack wireless Internet access, putting an iPad in the hands of those kids might not be as successful as giving them a cellphone that they could use to access a cellular data network. But in a wealthier, suburban neighborhood where wireless Internet is around every corner, an iPad is the perfect device. What I realized is that there can be no one-size-fits-all approach to education. One solution isn’t going to solve the education problems of the world. We need to look at each population and each classroom and choose the solution that makes the most sense for that instance. Education has to be tailored to the individuals, not the masses.
Soloway is right, we keep trying to make the data tell us a new story. Policy makers implement new standards and tests as a way to save education. But that is like moving deck chairs around on the Titanic. Sure things look different, but it is still a sinking ship. We need to cut our losses and build a new ship all together. That new ship should be tailored to fit the needs of the students who are boarding it. For some that means mobile phone technology, for others iPads, and for some netbooks. I can argue all day long for the benefits of the iPad in learning but when we get right down to it, the reason I hold that view is because it is perfect for the student population I work with. It makes sense in our situation. That may or may not be true of you.
To learn more about the session visit here.