Looking behind the attention-grabbing headline of Orewa College forces parents to buy ipad I would like to stop for minute and introduce everybody to my laptop.
She’s a Dell Inspiron 1420 that I ordered online back in 2007. The colour? I wanted something a bit different and for reasons unknown I went for a bright pink. I guess that decision goes on the ‘boy was I wrong’ list, right above The Macarena but just below the skirts over trousers phase.
My laptop and I have had our issues in the past but we are now coming up on four year mark. Yes the insprion is clunky, heavy and at times is prone to temper tantrums but yet our relationship endures despite the battery making the device a lot less portable these days.
It’s not as though I’m against upgrades.
I wouldn’t say no if someone offered me a macbook pro to use instead of this computer. I love gadgets but when the decision between a plane ticket somewhere awesome and a gadget comes up the plane ticket wins every time (though I’m pretty sure they had to wipe my slobber off the floor in the apple shop in New York).
The reason I’ve outed my laptop is because I think its important for people to realize that in order to take part in digital learning you don’t need to have all the new toys to play with it. Despite my love of social networking I don’t own an iphone or any sort of smart phone, in fact my mobile is a basic nokia but that’s ok. Right now I can access the internet, word process, edit videos, download and edit photos and faff around with itunes which is what I need to learn. As I mostly learn at home the lack of portability isn’t really a huge problem for me. If I was studying on campus, then I would be upgrading my device rather than coveting a plane ticket to India.
Looking at the letter Orewa College actually sent home to parents it doesn’t actually state that parents have to purchase an ipad but it does stipulate the school was moving to 1 to 1 devices. However students can bring in their own device or purchase the ipad2 which the school is only recommending as a device for those not sure of what to buy. Furthermore the school is looking for a way to work out a payment plan. This is entirely reasonable to me, the school acknowledges that the cost is high for parents and is trying to work out a cost effective way of getting devices into classrooms.
However reading through the your views section of the Herald and the comments on stuff I find myself in despair at the number of commentators that think learning online or via social media is just a giant waste of time. I am going to come out and say that aside from my regular studies, which I am completing online, I learn just as much if not more from my use of social media like twitter and this blog. I simply can’t imagine a world in which I have people from around the world interacting with me and shaping my thoughts on teaching and learning. My teaching practice will be richer from this experience.
Because it is not about the technology, it’s about the learning.
If I was a parent and went into a school where the classroom looked like it did when I went to school, I would be very concerned. In a generation we have gone from information scarcity to information abundance and as a result the knowledge and skills that made a successful learner when we went to school are completely different for today’s students. If your school isn’t engaging with this new world then you should start asking questions as to why your children are being left out. Because not being able to successfully engage with online learning: being able to frame questions, analyse information, connect with others and produce content, will make your children illiterate in a medium where the only constant is change.
At the guts of the problem isn’t that Orewa College wants to introduce 1 to 1 device into its classrooms, in fact they should be getting a massive round of applause for doing so, it is that the funding of this learning always seems to be someone else’s problem when it needs to be a collective one. We shouldn’t be pitting parents against schools to get technology into classrooms, the rest of our society needs to support moving our students into this digital world. It will be interesting to see if the funders of the New Zealand Institute report into New Zealand’s ‘failing education system’ decide to put their money where their ideas are around e-learning. Likewise perhaps the New Zealand government could follow South Korea’s lead towards a paperless classroom by putting a tablet into the hands of every New Zealand school student by 2015.
Because it is not about the technology, it is about who pays for it.