Sunday, August 19, 2012

iPad in Education - considerations

This has been a hype topic since the 'birth' of iPads... when educators are eager ones to bring this sexy device into the classroom.

I'm not a techno-geek and I'm not a big fan of the Mac products though I start to fell in love with some of the Mac devices. It's simply too hard to keep up with the evolving range.

However, I think the word "sexy" is an appropriate adjective (in my limited vocabulary) that I think best describes this slim and portable device that adopts a beautiful elegant look :) 

There are many possibilities and many opportunities for iPads to gain a place in the classroom. Of course, apart from its physical self, the greatest potential comes from the range of applications that run in the device! It's no doubt that it will change the classroom dynamics and students' learning experiences. However, all this would come about depending on the context and the 'kind' of role to play in teaching and learning.

Why am I saying this?

Well, indeed, some of my colleagues might label me as a 'dinosaur' (or maybe, slightly better, 'turtle') as it takes me sometime to start seeing the value of iPad in classroom. Of course, the underlying reason for this is I'm being overly cautious (I think).

Hm... am I just being stubborn and wanted to stick to my comfortable 'zone'?
Possibly, one attributing reason could be that I'm take a long time to warm up with gadgets.
Haha... some might not believe it, given the nature of my job and what I've been doing (or involved in) in the past decade!

I think, it's also due to the three years of training I had in ETD, where I learnt that the priority consideration, before introducing any gadgets to learning is always the "value". The key questions to ask:
1. What are the unique features in the device that are useful for effective learning?
2. Is it a replacement (substitution)? or is it going to value-add to the effectiveness in learning? It must not be just the "cool" factor - Novelty wears off over time.
3. Examine the current context. How does the device/ gadget fit in?

Well, these questions cannot be answered very quickly or immediately.

Sometimes, I wonder if some people (who wanted to be the first to 'jump' into it... er... for the sake of being one of the pioneers) have really sat down to think through very thoroughly, not just implementation, but also potential implications?

It is no doubt that I faced quite a bit of unseen pressure... yes, unseen... I have iPad enthusiasts around me! Of course, most are nice people who give me the space and time to talk and discuss over it. Of course, I do have a small number who actually already sounded pretty impatient and have this "let's dive in then see what problem need to address".  (Interesting scenario, huh?) Obviously, I'm not the kind who will dive first then firefight.

In fact, some are puzzled why others could just "go" for the implementation while we are spending so much time to think through. I guess, that's where the 'context' kicks in.

In many, there do not exist a context... in other words, when iPad is the first mobile device implemented into classrooms. Of course, there is little one could do about 'comparison' of the computing power of devices; and therefore, it's easy to come on board. On the other hand, for my context, there already exists an 1-to-1 ICT-enabled learning environment, which means there's much more comparison to be made, and to weigh the pros & shortcomings. I'm quite sure, by introducing iPad into my context without much consideration would merely be 'substitution'.

Well, still thinking... but I believe that the answer is already on its way :)

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