Jeff Utecht asks Why do I get a computer? and lists some concerns around this question. I had an immediate reaction to several of his concerns:
- Will they use it appropriately?
- ‘Appropriately’ meaning ‘in an acceptable fashion all the time’? The short answer is ‘no.’ Does everyone use their pen appropriately all the time? Should we take them away from everyone because someone might be using it inappropriately?
- How are we going to make sure they use it?
- If we need to make sure they use it, we are probably expecting them to use a wrong tool. How do we make sure teachers and students are using their pen? Shouldn’t the question be, how do we make sure they are using their mind?
- What if they screw around and get off task?
- Let’s hope so. We want them to be creative and think for themselves. Don’t we? Well?
- What happens if it breaks?
- Of course it will break, every electro-mechanical device will at some point. It simply gets replaced.
- How are we going to measure its effect on learning?
- Students will be doing new things we couldn’t have planned for.
- How are we going to measure its effect on teaching?
- Teachers will rebel if they are told they have to give them up.
Really, these concerns seem like a solved problem to me. Businesses went through a similar process thirty-plus years ago(!) when they started putting desktop machines on everyone’s desks. Can you imagine the uproar if you even suggested taking them away today? Workers are doing things that they couldn’t otherwise do, it will be the same with students. The work metrics of 20 years ago don’t even begin to account for the types of work that are being done today. Our current assessment methods are similarly inadequate for the work students will be doing once teaching assumes students have a laptop and not just a pen.
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