5 Reasons iPads are King of WTF?

Over at Edudemic (a utopia of splog-lists as far as I can tell) –  the iPad will ‘stay king of the classroom‘ – a remarkable claim by any measure – and manages to provide 5 reasons. I would ignore, but seriously this is dripping all over my internetz and it’s crap.

Firstly, an argument that an iPad’s greatest attribute is that it’s not a laptop (?) and that it supports the SAMR model. No evidence is provided as to how or why this is – though Ruben has discussed workflows in relation to iPads in the recent past.  It is debatable whether the iPad is progress or only cyclic change – but certainly the claim “The iPad is a new kind of device that asks you to think and work differently.” is a puerile a mash up of slogans which fails to convince.

Secondly, the iPad can multi-task and allow students to  to create a creative workflow. What has ‘creativity’ got to do with it? The iPad pre-multi-tasking was widely criticised and required hackers to solve it … but I digress …

Creativity requires that new information comes into the world. The is no correlation here between a workflow and creativity. Indeed I’d argue kids don’t multi-task at all, they rapid-switch and that is requires procedural knowledge (what is known) not imagination (what could be).  The iPad workflow also requires a dogmatic acceptance of how to access and produce information within the (Apple) world. It is deterministic – and always in Apple’s favour.

The third assertion is that the Apple Eco-system gives some teachers some assurance of learning – as everything is connected and ‘just works’.  There are so many floors here, not least confirmation bias,  I won’t waste time on it.

Finally, discusses Apple’s commitment to education. This makes Apple a bloody good cyber citizen. Apple has to plenty to invest (reported to be $120bn), yet it seems very hard to know where or why they actually do it according to the Guardian. How much goes into education, appears a drop in the iOcean.

Perhaps a clarification in the article might be “Apple has seen education as part of it’s market and has consistenly developed and targeted that market with consumer electronics though a loyalty programme”. A global platform of super-sleek but largely dumb devices is already in place. The opportunity for Apple lies in changing how devices are being used. For Apple, the shift towards micro-payments and low-cost high volume “apps” which it get’s other people to make – is without doubt remarkable. At the same time, is hard to argue that Apple is doing much at all in regard to education – certainly not in the way Gates or Lucas have (in America) – given the $120bn it appears to have kicking around.

There are thousands of ‘apps’ for education – most of which are neither innovative or unique – with the vast majority ports of Flash games and Java games which are freely available elsewhere. I’m yet to see an educational-game app that I didn’t delete.

Lastly, Apple is aspirational. Do you Remember eWorld? Well, if not, eWorld competed directly against AOL, CompuServe, and MSN, and finally lost this competition. On March 31, 1996, at 12:01 am the service shut down. No one aspired to eWorld. Now we have iWorld – a cyclic, secular kingdom that while popular today as a life-style brand – owes as much of it’s success to brilliant form design and marketing management as it does it’s performance – not education.

Finally, as far as I know, a classroom is still for learning – and before introducing any technology, it is preferable to have some form of empirical evidence or at least find an imperative. Because I like it – is neither. Schools are not a factory where children are altered to fit and better survive in the technological milieu or fools in a kings court – with an iPad or anything else. It is perhaps one of the few places they can still afford to be children,  not Honey Boo Boo or something for teachers to experiment with.

After all, when culture becomes disconnected from truth, our understanding of freedom itself becomes distorted. This piece isn’t just distorted, it’s whacked on bias and lack of understanding about how learning actually occurs.

2 thoughts on “5 Reasons iPads are King of WTF?

  1. Hi Colin,
    It’s extremely refreshing reading this blog post. Too many times have I read about how iPads are “it” and how entire school districts are going one-to-one with iPads for their students. iPads are mobile and convenient – exactly mirroring society’s apathetic attitude towards activity. No wonder we lament “Where have all the great minds gone?” as still solvable problems continue to create nuisances in our world.
    However, I’ve recently bought an iPad Retina to see what all the fuss was about. I must admit – I really do enjoy it!! I’ll use it at work for Evernote I think but I’m still a babe-in-the-woods when it comes to tablet computing. I’m a bit of a game freak so I have enjoyed downloading them and playing about – served me well on a long flight back to Tokyo recently!
    Mid last year I wrote a blog post describing the iPad as nothing more than the equivalent of a McDonald’s Happy Meal – quick, convenient, shot term fix but nothing satisfying. I copped a bit of flack over that with one poster beginning with “It’s people like you……” Ha!! – I love that! However the majority shared my view. While my stance has softened since and I did make the decision to buy one to see what the fuss is about, I really do still stand by original ideas that its just another example of a quick, convenient and mobile device.. A tool that all the “text-book teacher lovers” out there would enjoy.
    Now with the iPad mini storming the market one wonders how far Apple will go. Personally I think its dangerous and not one company should have this much influence over Education. Anyway – I think this year will be a more settling year for technology in education as most of us will start to filter the crap, use tech efficiently and effectively and realize that creating a balanced well rounded educational experience for students should be, and will be now and forever our main goal.
    Again thanks for the post – a terrific read. Maybe we will get the chance to connect in HK in the next couple of weeks?

    • If I was in HK for sure, but I live in Sydney. I own iPads, I’ve bought lots for the classroom, but this opinion piece could not pass without some comment as to how simplistic it is and in that regard how easy it is to turn dogma into truth. Thanks for your thoughts … Mobile computing is clearly here – but with little research and a lot of hype it worries me when 10,000 people boost things like that to FB.

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