So, I’ve been doing a lot of research recently into mobile learning, but perhaps more specifically iPads in the classroom. One of the issues that seems to be common is that, just like Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs) were in the early day, some schools seem to have the technology thrust on them without much in the way of strategy or plan for how to actually use them. The schools that seem to be flying with the implementation of the iPads are the ones that (outwardly at least) seem to have the clearest idea of what they want to achieve at a teaching level.
The difficult thing with any educator and tech support relationship is balancing the practical with the ‘visionary’ – teachers should, indeed must, have the time to think big when it comes to the technology available to them – to buy a ‘suite’ of iPads is not enough, unless we’re all about box-ticking. Instead, just like IWBs, mobile laptop banks and other technological onslaughts before them, the product is only as good as its implementation! Encouraging teaching staff to find the time to get to grips with the technology is a difficult process for any school, after all, how many teachers would admit to having time (even if they did!) to be able to ‘play’ with new devices? We need to remove the stigma that comes with the use certain technology in classrooms as somehow being gimmicky or unmanagable – it’s only gimmicky if you let it be – if lessons are taking place using iPads where previously held in an ICT Suite, that’s great but where’s the actual benefit? Has anyone in the school actually had the time, help and support to discuss the potential benefits, or is it just assumed that newer = better and that because the equipment is actually being used then the box is ticked? Are we simply installing equipment as a knee-jerk reaction to claims of out-dated-ness (eek) or as part of a ‘me too’ mentality?
What has become clear from the schools that are flying with the implementation of new technology is not that they necessarily have huge budgets, willing Senior Leadership teams or even that the ‘vision’ is there – of course all of these play a part, but the teacher-led implementations are the ones that seem to be succeeding. After all, who could be better equipped to counter the ‘tablet sceptics’ (although it the term could apply to ANY technology really…) than teaching staff that can both see first hand and demonstrate the potential benefit to teaching and learning.
The point of this post? I guess it’s a call to arms – if you’re a teacher and you WANT the chance to be able to experiment technology then make a noise about it and have a think about what you want to achieve, then bug the heck out of your line managers, ICT support team and colleagues to try and make it happen!