And why we’re not selling all ours.

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Recently I came across this article that has been floating around on social media for the past few weeks. It’s titled “Why Some Schools Are Selling Their All Their iPads” and comes from ‘TheAtlantic‘, the online version of a monthly news and entertainment magazine out of Boston in the United States.

The article amongst edtech circles has been frequently commented on and it’s been interesting to see the responses from those who have made mention of it.

The article begins by asking ‘is the iPad really the best device for interactive learning’. An interesting question. I can clearly remember when I first laid eyes on an iPad and had the opportunity to engage with one. The conversations immediately turned to the impact that such a device, and that being Mobile Tech, not specifically an ipad, would have on pedagogy and learning.

To this day I am unsure of whether or not the iPad is ‘the’ device for teaching and learning. I do not think there will ever be ‘one device to rule them all’.

Having been involved in the DEECD ‘iPads 4 Learning‘ Trial in 2010/2011, we were amazed to see that transformation of both pedagogy and learning behaviour change via teachers and students having access to this mobile technology. The results and findings from the trial gave very good insight into how the technology supported the delivery of content and students meeting learning outcomes.

Currently I am embarking on re developing a new eLearning Strategy for my college for 2015-2017. No easy task. A large component of focusing on student device allocation. Currently, we’re essentially an ‘iPad School’. 85% of our 1900 students have a 1:1 device and in saying this, in recent years, we’ve seen a shift from 1:1 to 1:many. Students engaging in multiple devices to support their learning.

The discussion as to what we do moving forward has played and weighed heavily on my mind and certainly that of other leadership staff within my setting. The debate of ‘Is the iPad the best device to support learning?’ has occurred time and time again and we can say at this stage that the general consensus to that question is a yes. Now by now means do we and I feel that, again, the iPad is our one saving grace and we can ignore all other devices. However… for OUR teaching programs, pedagogy and philosophies, the iPad is a great device.

There are several points in the article that I completely disagree with, and others that I firmly believe. At the end of the day, I believe that schools are not selling ‘all their iPads’. That schools are investing in devices which best suit their needs and the needs of their staff and students. The fact also that schools are beginning to invest more in BYOD models of integration again change the dynamics completely. Students being given choice as to what devices they use at school is great and although I do believe when schools adopt a true BYOT model, then there are a lot more variables in play that that can be detrimental to a schools eLearning practices.

To quote from the article and in particular Joel Handler, Hillsborough’s director of technology, “Our goal was [to find out] not really which device was better, per se, but which device met the learning goals,”. Great comment! 

And this is why we will not sell the iPad devices we own. Because although it (iPad), for the third time now, may not be the one devices to rule them all, it is by large a great device in assisting students to meet learning outcomes and to foster and encourage 21st century learning skills.


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