The Future of Tablets in Education: Potential Vs. Reality of Consuming Media

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Someday/Monday dichotomy captures one of the core challenges in teacher professional development around education technology. On the one hand, deep integration of new learning technologies into classrooms requires substantially rethinking pedagogy, curriculum, assessment, and teacher practice (someday). For technology to make a real difference in student learning, it can’t just be an add-on. On the other hand, teachers need to start somewhere (Monday), and one of the easiest ways for teachers to get experience with emerging tools is to play and experiment in lightweight ways: to use technology as an add-on. Teachers need to imagine a new future—to build towards Someday—and teachers also need new activities and strategies to try out on Monday. Both pathways are important to teacher growth and meaningful, sustained changes in teaching and learning.

In this four-part series, we’ll use the Someday/Monday template to explore four dimensions of using tablets, such as the iPad, in educational settings, examining how teachers can take students on a journey from consumption of media to curation, creation, and connection. Here, we’ll start with consumption.

In the apocryphal photo of the iPad, the tablet rests in the lap of Steve Jobs, sitting on the stage at the iPad release demonstration, reclined in a leather chair. This was a device made for reading and watching, for sitting back, for passively consuming media. One of the signature challenges of the surge of interest in iPads is helping educators imagine the device as more than a library of books or a rolodex of apps, but as a flexible, mobile device for creating multimedia performances of understanding. Educators using iPads should start by thinking about how the device can foster critical reading of text, images, audio, and film, but consumption should be the point of departure on a journey towards more active student engagement.

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