Not a surprise, really, but there’s been some. Mostly in response to our 1:1 move, more of it in response to our choice to use iPad2’s as our only devices. Not that I feel all of the criticism deserves a response, but I thought a couple of words would be fitting. Here goes.
1. Clearly, 1:1 is no silver bullet for education. Josh Davis, also known as Dj Shadow, has said in more than a few interviews an interesting idea: He states that digging (the act of digging through stacks of old vinyl records in search of rare/unknown/unused gems) won’t, in fact, make a bad Dj good. But it will make a good Dj better, he insists. If a school culture is backwards and broken, 1:1 won’t make it any better or less dysfunctional. If you have a forward thinking, progressive, experimentally inclined staff, 1:1 can facilitate bringing that to new and fertile grounds.
2. The choice that we made to insist on every student carrying an iPad2 was, I firmly believe, the right choice for our school at that time. That doesn’t make it the right choice for your school, or even the right choice for our school in a year or two when it’s time to replace that fleet of devices. We’ve made no promises that our program will forever be a iPad specific one. In fact, our original plan was this: Use the iPad2’s as transitional devices from our (at the time) existing environment to our new (and current) 1:1 environment. We thought (and I still stand by this) that going from nothing in the school to everyone-with-a-different-device would be too large a gap for both staff and students to manage without a massive backlash of frustration. Everyone on the same device simplified this transitional phase. It is by no means a long-term solution.
3. We plan to use this transitional phase on our way to being a BYOD environment. I’d love to have every student/staff/parent well-informed enough to be able to choose a reasonable device for their use in the school. The barrier here is in education, but not just of the students, but also of the parents and the surrounding community. The iPad2’s should serve as a entry point to show the usefulness of this sort of technology integration- the hope is that with some buy-in from parents and the community, students and parents will be more motivated and empowered to research and explore their own options in hardware for students. That’s where we want to be going.
Yes, it would have been nice to simply tell every student and parent that they needed to buy a device for this school year. But the reality is that our program is experimental, and we need to be willing and able to fund it ourselves as a proof-of-concept. Having a wide variety of devices in a school is a great thing; it’s not feasible to go from no devices to such an environment. Our iPads merely mind that gap.
Not to sound too angry, because I’m not. Just emphatic.