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.
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.
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.
Heick, T., 2013, 8 Characteristics of Education 3.0
Petocz, P. & M.Manuguerra, 2011, Promoting Student Engagement by Integrating New Technology into Tertiary Education