So, obviously, the news on the one-to-one device front isn’t great. The one-to-one device concept is a popular one in education today, referring to the idea that every student at every school should have a tablet or computer for educational purposes. Then, they can complete their homework using intelligent software programs that we’ve written about, like TenMarks or Desire2Learn.
Intelligent software programs grade students assignments, track their progress, and pull new lesson material when students struggle with certain concepts. They’re sort of like robot teachers. Big data meets education. They’re promising, except for the fact that they presuppose every student having access to a device to do such programs. That’s why there’s a push for one-to-one programs, which are just starting to roll out in schools.It reminds of the a NPR program comparing American public education with else in the world. One major difference, much less technology in class room (even for wealthy European countries.) And the test score are higher in those countries.
I own an iPad, and I give it to my kids from time to time, for entertainment, and education. But, investment in technology does not improve quality of education automatically. It is not better at teaching arithmetic than an old fashion abacus, or spelling better than the paper flash card. Many tools and software available are good, as a supplemental.
It is not necessary. It creates other problems. Distraction is my primary concern. I agree with many of the arguments brought up by the unplugged advocates. Distraction by the connected devices is a serious problem for adults, and it is more so for kids who are still developing. The distraction alone would outweigh the benefits of putting it into the hands of every kid in the classroom.
Then, comes the money. If the ISD invests in the devices for education alone, the return probably won't justify it. Especially with one-to-one program, it is unfair and impossible to force kids for the lower income families use the expensive and shiny iPads for the school work alone, when it is the only computing device in the whole family. The information inequality is another serious problem that the education system needs to address, but one-to-one program is not the solution.
Advocates would argue technology could unleash the potential of some students. I prefer an unplugged classroom for my kids.