Friday, November 22, 2013

Just A Little Bit More on iPad

More schools jumping onto the bandwagon of using the interactive whiteboard (IWB) and visualizer to compliment the existing use of projection via the computer. I think the iPad (or tablets) will be a better choice. A market report convinces me that. Apparently companies making the IWB have been posting lower profits lately. I am no economist but the little economics that I know tells me that companies make lower profits when their products don't sell that well... And if a product is not selling well, that means it either has a replacement or is reaching the end of its shelf life...

And I think it's quite clear to see why. The writing is on the wall already actually....
I think we are still not quite up to the BYOD or BYOT stage yet. Most of us feel that our students are not quite yet ready for that. That BYOD would probably be more distracting than enabling. However, I feel that this is one area which we should be exploring in earnest. I find it strange that our kids cannot bring their own smartphones to school to use as a reference tool. This is an age of information at 'Google-tip'.

Our text books remain stuck to the date of its publications. So as the world moves forward... even as kids in other countries learn that states of matter consist of solid, liquid, gas, plasma and Bose-Einstein condensate, our kids learn that there are only 3 states. And our teachers say this is good so that they get a good solid basic. I fail to see how. I find it sad that our kids are not encouraged to use the vast resources on the Net as their learning fields. We are still trying to micro manage an environment that seems to moving beyond the macro. And we continue to drill for A(s) because we believe that those with the most A(s) will be good enough for the vocations of their choice. This despite numerous and repeated reports from those in the field that our graduates are simply just not meeting market needs.

Tablets... since I am an iPad person... should be a feature in the classrooms. And kids should be encouraged to bring their own. Perhaps we should allow schools to dicate their own platforms.
Recently I attended a course for the deployment of Chromebook in schools. A new mobile lab concept came with this latest offering from the Ministry of Education. 

This mobile lab which is actually a cart complete with its own internet source and cache storage. They even thoughfully added the access points so that 40 units of computer can access the net in class. All these Chromebooks sit in the cart, ready to be carted to the class for use. But someone seems to have forgotten that our classrooms sit not only on one floor. Our 80kg mobile cart apparently can only be mobile on one floor. It's crazy trying to move a cart up or down two flight of classrooms.

And even as we participants of the course tried to access the net via the modem given.... it was obvious too that having 40 online at the same time might prove a tricky feat. And not forgetting too... the Chromebooks in the mobile carts needed to be extracted for use. Imagine the time needed to retrieve and keep these computers. Putting them back is apparently trickier as it involves plugging their charging wires back so that they could be charged. A class of 30 would spend probably a total of 15 minutes for these activities. Kids might as well just learn without them. Some schools run on 35 minutes... with only 20 minutes left... and countless other possibilities, a teacher might just be better off with just chalk and talk...

A mobile lab which actually isn't that mobile. That's how I see the latest ministry offering. And I haven't even started on suitability. 7 year olds tapping away on keyboards. I just can't see that happening unless the 7-10 year olds attend typing classes.. So mobile labs in primary schools... I wonder if they are only meant for those in Primary 5 and 6. These kids will definitely be better off with an intuitive screen for their little fingers to tap and explore.

The government spent billions to buy computer hardware and software for the PPSMI. It later went on to 'give' deserving students a netbook each... But just do a check around and you will find kids with professional parents given a netbook too! And now this mobile lab thing. I wonder too how much benefits this will bring. Maybe it's time to give BYOD a consideration. Tax breaks for such purchases will be a better alternative perhaps... But whatever it is... our students are being left further behind.

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