Monday, 8 August 2011

Should #iPad be used as a major #mobile device in high schools? David Parson makes them compulsory for a pilot

A lot of us talk about the iPads and how to use them. David Parsons from the Massey University of Auckland, New Zealand has lined up the advantages and possible pitfalls for using iPad in higher education.

Why is this a defining college initiative? Because the Massey uni suggests that ALL students buy an iPad2 would be made compulsory. As such David Parsons will have a pilot project looking at the iPad as an educational tool in high schools.

He shared his views during a 18 minute interview, for those interested: feel free to listen to the mp3 here, or go to the link, if you consider using an iPad, this interview will immediately put you in the right direction (and give you solid arguments).

Some of the issues mentioned in the interview:
  • Mobile devices are taking over all of our lives, we need to acknowledge that these devices change everything, so important for digital skills;
  • Portable and user friendly;
  • All factors need to be researched and the research will need to be longitudinal to get meaningful results: learning outcomes (UK has introduced iPod touches, and the grades improved, in Birmingham another pilot is running with primary school students: ),
  • We need to transform the ways technologies are used in education;
  • Teachers must learn how they can use these new technologies;
  • The main issue is to get students to learn together which will increase their performance;
  • Currently there is a gap between parents and children using technology, this sometimes results in misinterpretation of technological potential by parents/teachers;
  • ICT should be better integrated in education;

Why use a tablet rather than a laptop?
David answers:
  • battery life is shorter with laptops;
  • the laptops create barriers (screen up), a tablet is more 'shareable' for collaboration;
  • lifetime should be longer;
(To me it is the ubiquitous possibilities of tablets that make a difference).

Examples in classroom:
David answers:
  • Tools to be used across subjects in classroom: tablet as a musical instrument, mobile chemistry tool, ... there are many apps that can be used and fit the school curriculum.
  • There are also a wide range of resources that can be accessed across school boundaries (youtube, itunes...).

Why do we buy into the idea of ONE product of a certain company? Why not through open source?
David agrees that this is a very important debate. But, schools should not be telling which tablet to buy, but they should be the best. Which apps are available, which resources are accessible... depending on the school different tools or mobile devices can be suggested.
David points towards the ease with which you can move across different resources, making it easier for teachers/users to get to the resources they want to. As such the iPad is much more user friendly than the other tablets out there.

What do students need to be fully skilled in looking at mobile devices?
Skills evolve constantly, in this case it is not about IT skills, but on getting to the best resources.
Current tools are better than the tools that were available ten years ago. Schools need to show students to connect to the best tools.

David says that we need to see that students will need to be creative, pro-active, critical... so schools have the duty to give its students these skills.

BUT! what with the digital divide that can occur when students or their family need to buy their own mobile devices that have a turn-around that is massive? The government does not have the funds to provide nation wide devices. David does question who needs to pay.