Edu-Gadgetry

If communication does not happen in a vacuum, neither does magic. As many know, iPads have become one of the most recent panacea to the many woes in education. From primary education to higher education, iPads are being introduced in classrooms. What do they fulfill?

Undoubtedly, iPads are powerful – with that added appeal of sexy cutting-edge and user-friendliness.  However, will their implementation achieve the same high results at all stages of education? Having been teaching with iPads for the last months, there are questions which have not been completely answered – yet.

For instance:

How do students perceive learning with iPads? Can an iPad really take the place of a laptop, in particular at higher education where students must write longer essays and not only the 5-paragraph essay for an IELTS exam?

There is so much rich learning from iPads that to dismiss them entirely is neither constructive nor beneficial to anyone, especially learners. What needs to be understood is that they will not magically increase learner engagement if learners are not themselves motivated to learn, nor can they be used in the same way in all educational contexts.

Petocz & Manuguerra (2011) claim that iPads have been used to “as a means to engage, inspire and motivate students through high-level presentation and communication tools.” They also add how It has changed the pedagogical approach, making the learning experience simpler and yet deeper. Results show that students learn best when technologies are seamlessly integrated into the curriculum to enhance their learning experience.”

Yes, there are apps which do add that extra appeal and glitter, however they are not essential for a high-level presentation nor as a communication tool. There are plenty of those online – and free to users. Often what I see is merely a more attractive re-packaging of a presentation rather than deep learning. My other query is up to which point are digital technologies really being seamlessly integrated into the curriculum when assessment is still based on paper and pen exams? Where lies the enhancement? With all the discussions and claims to enhancing motivation and learning, dare I ask – where is this learning? And once again, is the focus of iPadology more on the tool or on what the tool can achieve in terms of learning? Is the increased engagement all about the tool and apps, or in fact about the quality of learning?

Personally I believe that learning today is more mobile than ever; mobility shapes us with the aid of digital technology. Mlearning  (which I use to define mobile learning for the sake of clarity) will hopefully bring educational benefits to the many who have not had access to education.  Mlearning is a benefit to myself as well. My iPad is always by my side, all I need is WiFi to reach out to the world and learn.

Nevertheless….

However…

Is the implementation of iPads (and a required iPadology) sufficient to improve learning in educational environments? And if, doesn’t there need to be a differentiation among the educational levels and environments in order that the use of the tool better fits the needs and demands of learners?

Momentarily I linger…

I question as each day unfurls further questions. Education has to be more than gadgetry – though those will not go away any day soon.

Between the shoreline of Web 1.0, Web 2.0, heading towards Web 3.0, is where you will find me.

References:

Heick, T., 2013, 8 Characteristics of Education 3.0

Petocz, P. & M.Manuguerra, 2011, Promoting Student Engagement by Integrating New Technology into Tertiary Education

6 thoughts on “Edu-Gadgetry

  1. Hi,

    I’m a Spaniard public school teacher who is investigating the use of iPad in K12 education. I’ve been using iPads for two years and after reading your post and after these two years working with children, I’m fully confident about the need of changing how we create content: and how we deliver it.
    why do we need to create 12 pages long project? We have several better ways to create and communicate any kind of content: presentation, comic, videopodcast, stop motion, timelines, and several web 2.0 websites.
    I really think the iPad is a powerful disruptive device… if it is used in a very disruptive dynamic: group, emotional digitally literacy environment. And mostly CREATIVE centered works.

  2. As always, I enjoy reading your blog and I learn from your experiments and reflections. I am, as you know, conducting some serious inquiry and research into how to use new technologies for educational purposes. As you are aware, I am working with prospective teachers who are creating digital stories that engage learners in inquiry into multiple perspectives, communication, and problem-solving related to global issues. We build the stories on computers or iPads, using a variety of applications, including iMovie, iBook Author and Movie maker, and we present them on iPads or computers. They share them on YouTube or other sites.

    As I read the post, I got to thinking…. always a dangerous thing…

    Technologies mediate learning. An iPad can be used an opening to the world or as an iron cage. We have seen that the iPad can be used as a tool for learning about technology, practicing skills, gathering and analyzing data that is found on the Internet, and for creating objects. The iPad is a great new marketing device. Apps are distributed freely during the beta stage, then they are sold for profit. Integrated software packages, such as iLife, which are available on macs, have been unbundled and the software applications must be purchased again for the iPad. The number of new applications being offered over the Internet speak volumes for the ease of development of apps, but not for the value of the specific applications for learning. Is is possible that much of this innovative marketing be distracting learners from getting a powerful education? By 2014 all students in some States will be required to take a large scale assessment using an iPad. What happens when tools, like the iPad are used as track and control learning? How do learners react?

    The learner is the operator of the tool. A learner generates hypotheses, asks questions, controls the plan, sustains the investigation, communicates. Ideally, the communication and representation are shared and evaluated with informed others, and the learning continues. The learner elaborates, critiques, and revises his or her knowledge and expertise based on accurate and timely feedback and continues in the process of investigation and study and feels capable of contributing to the larger conversation and project. The focus of the future of education should be on the learner. Tools do not care about learners, but teachers do care. It is human beings who value knowledge and expertise, who learn with others, and who are the future policy makers, researchers, workers, and parents.

    Keep up the good work, Ana.

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