The discussion on ITFORUM this week has been deeply about mobile learning (if you’re into mlearning, it’s worth checking in!). Based upon this week’s guest’s question about experience with devices, I opined in ways that should be familiar:
Coming out with a book on mobile learning (mostly organizationally focused), and with kids of my own, I’ve naturally thought about what I think the role of mobile devices could/should be in schools:
I like what Elliot Soloway said many years ago, that a laptop was the wrong form factor for a kid. He used PDAs, but it was more for content creation than consumption. I actually think we want separate devices; a PDA form-factor for field work, and a tablet for in-class content creation. I think a PDA sized device for data capture (audio and video for instance) is more plausible than a tablet, and vice versa for serious content consumption and creation.
I think Kindle’s and Nooks are great text consumption devices, but I’m thinking we want more even in the consumption mode: audio, videos, and animation for instance, but I really think the real opportunity is interactivity, and a monochrome screen just isn’t going to cut it. Yes, the dedicated readers are better for reading, but I want a more general purpose device: simulations/games, for example.
Then there’s content creation. I want kids writing, diagramming, drawing, editing video and audio, and more. That more would be actual model building. I think that makes sense for a device bigger than a PDA, e.g. tablet-sized.
And I think the touchscreen approach is right for for much of what I’d like kids to do. Works for me, too ;). (Ok, a keyboard’s good for text entry, so maybe that’s ‘available’).
Those are conceptual arguments, here’s my pragmatic situation. I never bought an e-reader; I’ve liked print just fine. I did not intend to get an iPad; I’m ‘frugal’ (read: cheap), and I don’t spend money typically until I understand the full value proposition. However, between the announcement of the iPad and it’s actual availability, I realized that it had significant roles separate from my iPhone (which I already had). And those were content creation, not consumption (tho’ I’ve now taken advantage of those, too). I haven’t traveled with a laptop since I got my iPad, and am seriously glad I spent the money.
[Slight alteration] I’ve also blogged about how not allowing cross-platform development tools (read: Scratch, perhaps a HyperCard or clone) really is a bad move on Apple’s part for the education community. Their recent loosening of the rules gives some hope, but the lack of ability to import code is still a problem. Maybe HTML 5 will give us a browser-delivery environment.
It’s not that new, but still I think puts a slightly different spin on the situation than my last post. I welcome any thoughts you have!