Mobile Devices and other thinking

Sunday’s are good days to bump up against some new and reinforcing ideas.

Mobile learning enthusiasts Elliot Soloway and Cathleen Norris provide some clarity to defining mobile learning in Mobile Devices as Essential Tools.

Elliot: As long as computers are a shared resource…

Cathie: …like a cart of laptops or iPads…

Elliot: …teachers will use them as supplemental add-ons to their existing curriculum and pedagogical strategy.

Cathie: So to say that using iPads is mobile learning is really a misnomer; the only thing mobile about a cart of iPads is the fact that it is moved from room to room.

The primary reason we “share” resources is financial. Is there really any pedagogical or instructional benefit to doing this? I’ve been thinking a lot about mindsets lately and ran across this thinking that reiterates the need for us to change our mindset about technology:

“Technology is an environment, not a tool and social networks are communities, not private clubs.”

I can’t count how many times I’ve heard us highly educated adults utter the excuse: “Technology is just another tool.” No…it’s not. Only when we give up that notion, can we begin to see that it truly is an environment. Let me take your cell phone or your laptop away. Then tell me it’s just a tool. Yet we deprive our students of this environment – the environment in which they function outside of school – our Flinstone schools as Jeff Piontek tells us in his TEDx UBC talk. My favorite line: “We have the moral obligation to stop teaching Jetson children in Flinstones schools.” Is he being overly dramatic? I don’t think so. We have teachers, leaders and policy makers with heads stuck in a paradigm that no longer suffices. Is what we are doing immoral? Are we committing educational malpractice by continuing to structure schools, teaching and learning as we always have? So to recap my takeaways from today’s RSS feeds:

  • Systemic instructional and pedagogical change will not happen until we stop sharing devices.
  • We have to stop believing that technology is just a tool – it’s an environment.
  • We have to stop believing that the education we grew up with is good (enough) for our children.

Sylvia Martinez asks a great question: How do YOU believe people learn? As we answer that question, though, we need to be open to new ideas, shaped by a technology-rich world, that will challenge those assumptions about learning. If we approach the question with our old paradigm, we’ll never change. And maybe this is why we really haven’t.


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