The mobile technology in schools debate

This morning I followed a link in Facebook to a new article in “Education Nation” by Professor Chris Dede called “Give Students Mobile Devices to Maximize Their Learning Time“.

In the article Professor Dede states that mobile devices have six senses:

1. Knowing where you are

2. Interacting with networks

3. Sensing local content and services

4. Discovering relevant things

5. Enhancing your surroundings with information and simulation

6. Learning your interests, as well as how and with whom you like to learn

Using these “senses” the student has the ability to interact with the world of information, with each other and to do so seamlessly on a 24/7 basis. He contrasts this availability with the traditional “industrial model” of school where everything comes from teacher-led discussion, using the old “chalk and talk” and where the blackboard is the main illustrative device.

Professor Dede sits at one end of the mobile devices in schools debate. They are great, they will transform education and they should be adopted now.

At the other end sits a school which was highlighted in another “Education Nation” article: “A Silicon Valley School Eschews Technology

In this article  The Waldorf School Of The Peninsula is looked at. This is a school where the use of technology is  largely shunned in favour of a traditional “chalk and talk” approach. The fact that the school is in Silicon Valley and many of the pupils parents work in the forefront of developing new technology makes it an interesting case.

To quote the article ”

Despite being in the heart of Silicon Valley, Waldorf students are not caught up in the gadget frenzy that has consumed so many other school children nationwide. Computers are not used in the elementary school and they are used sparingly at the high school level. Teachers say they’re not anti-technology, but, as they put it, they’re just in favor of healthy education.

“I’m concerned that if we say we need technology to engage students we’re missing the fact that what engages students is good teachers and good teaching,” said Lisa Babinet, a Waldorf math teacher.”

These two articles show the two arguments in the “mobile technology use in schools” debate. I would strongly recommend that you read them both and try to think of where you stand in this important debate.

For myself, it will not surprise any of my readers to know that I am very much in the Chris Dede camp. I have written a blog post called “10 Reasons We Should Allow Mobile Phones Into Schools” which is, to date, the most read of any blog posting that I have done.

I would welcome any comments on where you stand on this question or just where we’re at in terms of progress (or lack of it) at the moment.

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