So yesterday I ran across this article “UAE colleges to ditch books for iPads” about the initiative “iPadagogy” to take place in Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT). There is an obvious benefit here; college students won’t have to walk around with heavy books. But there’s the disadvantage of having the internet, whatsapp and facebook at their fingertips, which can completely distract them from the lesson. And also, can they put their own handwriting at the margin of texts the way we used to with real books? Book applications allow you to highlight and type notes, but it’s not the same as scribbling with your own writing thus providing you with a visual memory for what you’re learning. It’s just how emails made personal communication quite impersonal with the identical font.
It’s just the price to pay for being technologically-adept.
A friend of mine lamented on how children nowadays won’t find pleasure in transitioning from pencils to pens, or in learning different types of handwriting (they’d be lucky to even have one).
“And what happens if Google is down?” She asked.
“They just go to Bing,” I replied.
Remember how in our time, calculators weren’t allowed until a certain age, so we would learn our “times” table? Now you can just google “Calculate 5 x 3″ and a calculator appears. So the kids got it easy, right? But if you think about it, they’re fighting hard battles as well, because many things try to grab their attention at once.
In their book, “Creating Tomorrow’s Schools Today” Robinson and Gerver write that “the complexity of the technology and information that surround our children has had a profound effect on the way their brains evolve, meaning that they are able to process high volumes of information at incredible speed but they are losing the ability to concentrate on one thing for a sustained period of time.”
They also admit that parents and educators tend to underestimate young people’s potential. They say, “They (Young people) know innately how to find out new things without being told, they deploy new technologies without having to be shown. In fact they are discovering applications for devices that the experts themselves had not thought of.”
An iPad is a two-edged sword. It could make learning more fun, but it could also be a distraction. What school kids make of it goes back to themselves; how they internalize the significance of education, and how the parents encourage them to do that. Most of the time, children just don’t understand why they are studying when they’d rather be playing. Tell a child to choose between “Chocolate” and “Milk”, the child will choose chocolate all the time, because they just know it’s sweet and tasty, so it’s the job of adults to educate them on the health benefits of milk until the child makes the choice themselves.
A parents knows s/he has succeeded when they sneak in on their child and discover that they were looking at Khan Academy videos because, “I finished my homework, so I thought of doing something for fun.”