Friday, June 24, 2011

The iPad Revolution: are we skilled enough?

This summer the Middle School is getting a cart of iPads and as you can imagine, we are thrilled. But anyone who has ever been told by an admin to "use more technology in the classroom," knows you can't throw technology into schools without training and support for teachers. What is our plan for developing teachers that are skilled in using them? Honestly, I don't know...yet. And what does skilled mean? What about professional development? And who is in charge of all this? Yikes.

I recently stumbled upon a write up by Sam Gliksman called "Do iPads Have the Capacity to Change Education?" In his piece he mentions a study by Harvard professor Shoshana Zuboff. She has identified two distinct phases in the way new tech tools are implemented, calling them "Automating and Informating." When Automating, new tools are used to "reinforce existing practices and processes." We see this all the time. Think of the way we use Smartboards - they are often just digital white boards with a teacher at the front of the class as the students take notes.

With Informating, instead of continuing to focus on a learning attribute that already exists in order to make it better (getting kids to be better note takers by sitting still and listening to a lecture) we start to look at brand new skills and outcomes (creating 21st century students who know how to work in collaborative teams). Many feel we are in the infancy of this phase. Perhaps we are. In any case, before the iPads arrive this summer, we intend to explore ways to make the essential plan for our faculty to do a lot less automating, and much more informating with our iPads.

Want to read Sam's writing on iPads and more?

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