Today, some schools and centres are very proud to announce their “one tablet per pupil” programs. The real question for me is this: “Are we looking for a brand new tool to do the same old school?” I hope that we will be leveraging the tablet for the great advantage of having ubiquitous access to information in all its glorious forms more than for apps that offer electronic versions of what used to be done in activity books. For that to happen, I believe we need to change a few things about our vision of school and of pedagogy. But change is scary…
Change Is Scary Marc-André Lalande, 1:58 A short, light-hearted conversation starter on the place of tablets in the classroom.
Connection Is Power Is Connection
The real power of the tablet lies in having it always available so learners can look up info as need be, squiggle notes, take pictures and movies, communicate, create, collaborate, you know, the whole kit and caboodle of what really matters for learning. In my view, having the tablets sit in a cart until the teacher decides what activity they’re going to be used for, everybody at the same time, defeats the purpose of a tablet. And that makes access to Wi-Fi a priority before buying anything else… unless you want to move your class to a coffee shop.
You Want Your Own
If you already have one of your own, you know that a tablet isn’t really designed to be shared. You’re logged in to everything all the time and all your personal media is accessible as you flick the thing open.
Principals often ask me how they should go about managing their tablets in their school or centre. My answer is “Don’t”. Let the students and staff bring their own and lend as many as you can to those who can’t afford one… long term; let them take it home. Get a waiting list going if need be. But I’ll bet you’ll see a change in Christmas lists happening in no time. The best thing is to have learners and staff manage their own device so they can install the apps they want and need; having someone else manage your tablet is a huge inconvenience … so avoid it if you can.
So there you go… All set and ready for change: a change in how we use technology and when we use it, a change in device management, and most importantly, a change in pedagogy. So yes, all of this can seem a little overwhelming at first. Change is scary. But the status quo… now that is truly terrifying!
Sylwia Bielec is an instructional designer and pedagogical consultant at LEARN. Her expertise is in professional learning, reflective practice and informal/community learning. She also has a background in media production with students.