March 27th, 2018, Apple held an education focused event at Lane Tech College Prop High School, in Chicago. I suggest you have a look at the keynote over at Apple’s website if you missed it.
The long and short of it, is that Apple released an updated iPad with Apple Pencil support and a renewed focus on teachers and students. Apple hardware and software focused squarely at the middle class price opint.
I believe Apple aims to bridge the way teachers and students use devices outside the classroom, to modernize teaching. The iPad price point and pencil suppose being critical to that access.
I feel especially moved by Apple’s effort, because I grew up in the 90s using Apple hardware and software for classwork. Using PowerMac 9600s to make short films in Adobe Premiere and Avid. Todays’ iPads have a lot more power and storage, yet we have don’t seen an explore use in the classroom.
My teachers, luddites then, and over twenty years later, luddites now. My children routinely come home with journals and photocopies that look like they are still using the same photocopiers from 1991.
I do have one teacher that uses digital calendars and cloud based tools so I can follow along with my child’s progress. I know what’s coming up and what school work they are working on. It would be nice if all my children had the same experience. Honestly, I believe teachers’ workloads could be reduced if digital tools were properly integrating across the curriculum.
I love the below iPad image because it looks like a report I would have handed in in High School. I once created an full colour print magazine using the best tools in the industry at the time for my grade 12 Media Arts class. The exploration of the tools allowed me to better understand the work of publication in general.
I often find myself, unwilling drawn into a discussion about technology in the class room. I am often asked to demonstrate using technology in class. I cringe a little inside, because for me it is “technology” is usually bared from entry into the classroom. At the heart of the problem, a pencil is as much technology as an iPad. But if teachers are only going to accept assignments written with a pencil, then they have already chosen which technologies are barred from the classroom.
Simply paying lip service to the use of technology in the classroom is a reflection on pedagogy, not the shortcomings of technology.
The iPad is a great piece of technology only if children will use it to better integrate their experiences inside and outside the classroom with what they are being taught.
Bringing diversity of teacher and learning into the classroom should be the mission of every school. I often hear that it is not possible because of the lack of resources. Overworked and under resourced teachers and schools. Conflicting agendas, bias, racism and antiquated approaches to pedagogy. Reinventing the wheel rather than making the electric car.
I think the new iPad can be a great tool, but only if the software can make learning easier for everyone involved.
My own children spend hours going through blank piece of paper, pulling on my sweaters to print new images to colour, or show them how to fold new kinds of origami. I then spend lots of time scanning their art back into the computer or taking photos of their new Lego creations. I wish I could follow their progress at school with the same ease I swipe through their art on my iPad, or enter appointments into my calendar on my iPhone.
I would buy them a new iPad in a second if I thought all of “tracking” requirements would be solved. But, I honestly feel like they are just peddling more hardware without the accompanying software.
My daughter brings home hole punched homework sheets. Honestly, in this day and age. There is no school website for her grade with adaptive math problems. She still erases and crosses our her homework on paper. It is astonishing to me that I have yet to hear of a School board, tech company, government agency or programming firm coming together to create modular bilingual adaptive learning software freely available to all schools in Canada. In stead of making a new Garage band, Apple should be on this K-12 curriculum and integrating homework into Game Centre.
It has been more than twenty years for me, but technology hasn’t changed very much. If you don’t have an imagination and the will to bring it to live, no amount of technology will change my mind.