Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

17 September 2010

Small addition to ‘right tech for schools’

Clark @ 6:03 AM

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!

1 Comment »

  1. Your slight alteration brings to mind the use of ipods in the classroom. While there is a lot of good stuff that could be used educationally at the itunes store (educational videos etc…) and with the increase in multi-modiality of student technology use, I couldn’t require any of my classes to use the resources because not all had access to ipods. Many of my students, especially those with limited means, chose to use mp3 plays (at a quarter of the price) and were unable to download material from the itunes store onto their Mp3 players. I think they’d have a wider audience if they allowed to greater cooperation outside of their own devises.

    Comment by Virginia Yonkers — 17 September 2010 @ 6:59 AM

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