I just read an article written for a business magazine, Network World, written by a Chief Information Officer, where he argues that the iPad may fail in schools because of what he calls ‘flaws’ in the design.
In the article it describes on high school in Michigan (again a private school) that would love to get ahold of 700 iPads (it’s an all boys school). The problem they have is that there is no remote monitoring of the iPad like there is for laptops so teachers wouldn’t be able to insure students are looking at what they want them to be looking at.
Here’s the dilemma this school faces. They want a device that can be used to run a whole lot of different applications and has good battery life – and they want to connect these devices to the teachers computer so they can be monitored. Laptops and netbooks fulfill the first criteria but not the second.
Here’s the situation in the words of the school:
The big idea is to have students conduct browser-based research, participate in discussions, take virtual field trips at institutions around the world, use app tools for math and science, write essays, take notes, and read e-books and PDF handouts.
“So far, we haven’t found the right solution,” Lawson says. “We flirted with netbooks, and at the time netbook batteries just weren’t there with a two or three hour battery life. When you have 700 boys going all day, you’ve got to have a 10-hour battery life. I don’t have 30 [power outlets] per classroom, and even if I did I’d probably blow fuses.”
Without the remote monitoring the school says,
For now, an iPad without this enterprise feature is a deal breaker. “We can’t put in something if we can’t do any monitoring,”
This whole topic builds upon the one we started yesterday – but it drives directly to the point I was attempting to make about methodology. Just giving young people a piece of technology or a device will do nothing more than distract them for some period of time unless it is tied in with something that is interesting and relevant to their lives.
The method of teaching and learning will have to be re-designed if we are really going to take advantage of the potential represented by a new technology like a computer – or like an iPad.
If the fundamental operating principle of schools continue to be control and compliance then the kind of tool like the iPad will not surely fail. If the fundamental operating principle of schools can change to be one focused on learning – real learning, not memorization and regurgitation – then there is a possibility that something like the iPad can do really well.