Even though my professional interests lie in gaining a better understanding of pedagogy and how this impacts on successful teaching and learning, my current position has put me in charge of my school’s digital strategy.
As such, the main thrust of my role in the past two and a half years has been the visioning, planning and deployment of a tablet 1-to-1 strategy (meaning all teachers and students are supplied with a tablet — iPad Air 32 GB in our case), guided by the school’s values and what I am continuous learning about what makes great teaching and learning.
One of the things my school excels at is the communicating of this vision to teachers, students, parents and the wider school community. Social media is an important tool for this. So, every now and then I reinforce this vision by tweeting or posting blogs, like this one, about how technology is actually being used — as opposed to how folk assume technology is being used.
Most of the time these tweets and blogs go uncontested, but often enough someone takes issue and questions the value of the whole tablet initiative.
Does the fact that tablets save on printing costs justify the expense?
If children can access content more easily both at school and at home more easily, does that really justify the cost?
Mobile devices may well facilitate and encourage transactional exchanges of student work and teacher feedback, but can’t you do the same on paper?
Teacher instruction can be made more effective when it is supported by tablets, but can’t they use a cheaper visualiser instead?
Children may well have access to state-of-the-art self-organisation tools, but where is the evidence they impact positively on learning?
I understand that, when devoid of context, it is reasonable to suggest that, saving on printing; having easy, ubiquitous access to teacher-curated content; or being able to better communicate and transact work, for example, are not, on their own, good enough reasons to justify the adoption of mobile devices by schools.
But context matters. It’s only when you add up all these seemingly individual, inconsequential tesserae that the bigger picture emerges.
And yes, it’s worth it.