Ask Why Before You Deploy iPads in Your Classroom
Simply purchasing iPads for a classroom without asking why and how they will be used will not advance education. If your school purchases classroom iPads as a means of reinforcing the same old educational processes, it may be totally missing the point.
In his book Start with Why, author Simon Sinek claims that we all know what we do. You often define yourself by what you do “I’m a teacher,” for example. You usually also know how you should do whatever you do.
People usually develop a routine to make their tasks easier. Very few people or organizations constantly discuss and debate why they do something. Only by reflecting on the question of why are educators able to develop and articulate a meaningful vision for what they should be doing . . . and that certainly applies to education.
Educators all have a vision of ideal education, and it’s highly likely that they disagree on many of its components. There is, however, one common thread that most educators would agree upon. As strange as it may sound, educators aren’t teaching children to become good students in school. After all, school is simply a transitional stage of their lives.
The objective is to educate and prepare students for life outside school. Ideally, educators would like to give them the necessary skills to become happy, productive adults and solid citizens.
When you live in an era of change, asking why helps evaluate whether you are preparing your students appropriately for their lives outside school. It’s a natural tendency for humans to fall into routines and to focus on what they do and how they do it without regard for whether it’s still relevant.
Many people continue following the same educational routines and processes without asking whether they are really preparing children for their lives in an ever-changing society full of technology.
Here are some examples of how not to employ iPads in the classroom:
Continuing to use lecturing as a primary pedagogical process but using technology to project the documents and presentations instead of delivering material orally or in printed formats
Continuing content-based educational practices by having students read a chapter and answer the questions at the end, but allowing them to use technology to submit typed responses
Continuing to stress memorization of facts but using tools such as flashcard apps to help drill the information
Asking why and looking outside the school walls may lead educators to different visions and new directions. Why focus only on text for exchanging information when the world now communicates with a variety of multimedia, and fluency in media literacy is a valuable skill in the workplace? Why continue using the same old textbooks when updated information on any topic can be accessed within seconds using the Internet or e-books?
Why focus on a static content delivery-and-memorization approach to learning when that pool of content is increasing at unprecedented speed, and it’s more important for students to be skilled in finding, analyzing, and using information as they need it? Should educators prepare students for tests, or prepare them for life?
Using technology effectively in education requires much more than just having technical skills. Instead, through the use of technology, educators have the ability to sculpt new educational visions that address the real needs of children entering a new world.