It was 1997 and Apple challenged the world to “Think Different”. This cliché is more than meets the eye, speaking more about the decision not go with the status quo device than a challenge for us as innovators and users of technology to use their devices to, think different. This is because 1997 was the same year that Apple almost went bankrupt. Twenty years later, we see Apple is a leading technology company, one who continues to push the limits of how technology can shape our future. When analyzing technology’s impact on experiences in and out of education, we need to appreciate that technology affords us the ability to think different. It allows us to enhance experiences, alter others, and cause daily experiences to become obsolete. It is in this spirit that models such as SAMR as so dangerous, yet simultaneously so magical in how they enable us to measure our thoughtful use of technology.
When we look at technology only as a computer then we in fact significantly limit our potential outcomes.
One of the greatest technological breakthroughs of the industrial age was the invention of the typewriter. It was a device of empowerment, individuality, and of freedom. We were now able to rapidly produce our thoughts onto paper breaking the shackles of the limitations of pen and ink, and the printing press.
So what did the computer accomplish? Looks like a typewriter to me. For one, it turned production into mass production giving us the ability to store hundreds and even thousands of those typed letters on this “little” innovation. Computing technology has come a long way, becoming smaller and simpler, with expanded abilities , and more intricate and complex results. As the decades passed this trend continued until
April 3, 2010. That was the day that Apple again, Thought Different.
That day, we went mobile, and dozens of limitations and challenges evaporated into thin air. A truly different device was created. It is not a device that can replace a computer and, therefore, isn’t comparable to one. It is like trying to compare a car and a helicopter simply based on their similar ability in respect to travel. The iPad also created a challenge that other tech companies eagerly accepted. How can we take the best features of all creative devices and combine them into one. The mobile tablet was born. Still, the world looked at the iPad as a consumption device, and Education looked at it was skepticism. Fast forward five years and it is abundantly clear that the iPad is much more, a creative, personalized, empowering, truly mobile device. Still as recently as yesterday I am reading criticisms leveled at the iPad that I thought we had overcome. No one will question the importance of easy and advanced levels of writing, but once your Bluetooth keyboard pairs with the iPad, it will give you ample time to question the level of emphasis on essay writing as a means of assessment, which alienates at least four ways students can demonstrate their understanding.
Still, the iPad isn’t perfect, for example, it’s an IT nightmare. The iPad is extremely difficult for IT Departments to manage and support. This is, unfortunately true, and very frustrating. Apple has made little to no effort to answer the call by educational technology personnel to change how the iPad is set up and managed. Fall 2015 is a little to late and many have given up on the device as an educational tool because of this. For those that have stuck it out I ask the following question.
What drives the choice of technology at your school? The meaningful learning outcomes that students can produce or the ability for the adults to manage it?
I want what’s best for my students. I want to afford them the most flexible and versatile learning tools just like I expect those same descriptors to reflect their learning spaces, and the learning itself.
I don’t want my students to have an iPad, I want them to have a mobile studio that can plan, design, produce, edit, and publish most excellent learning experiences.