Friday, September 23, 2016

From Outside Looking in : Highland Council and Tablets #slf16

Thanks to Donald Clark for reminding me - that sometimes you need be vocal.

I forget sometimes that now as a freelance consultant rather than someone tied into the education establishment I can voice informed opinions about changes in the system.
On the surface an announcement like this week's one that Highland Council is to roll out
20,000 tablet computers to teachers and learners sounds great.

It is a long overdue development to see a whole education authority in Scotland move into this space , it closes the digital divide , gets a browser in to the hands of every learner and teacher and as importantly into their households too and I hope the programme enables enough wifi and bandwidth in their schools so that these tools can be used meaningfully and that other devices can some along too.

I hope the tablets are not mainly used for note taking. If they use the arrival of the technology to rethink learning and curriculum delivery and engage the learners in this redesign then they will move learning along at pace across the region.

The ambition of the local authority has to be applauded. I hope too someone is having a look at the lessons that should have been learned from wee places like Islay High School who were doing this more than 10 years ago and the numerous pilots with mobile devices that were done across Scotland five or so years ago. I heard unofficially at #SLF16 that some of the cohorts of learners that were involved in these mobile learning initiatives were now getting exceptional results in their school leaving certificates ( Nationals, Highers and Advanced Highers in Scotland) I am not sure that this is being tracked officially anywhere ? Where is Scottish Higher Education with the data and research ?

But here's the rub - tablets don't change practice as much as a laptop would. It's probably too late but if any other local authority is thinking about this , have a look at the global evidence before being seduced by a tablet.

Have a look at Donald's well structured critique from 2013 and have a look too at the commentary . 

I've got a tablet and I use it a lot and it gives me a great window on the world - but when I work and move out into the online world I use a keyboard and a laptop or today my trusty desktop - this lets me create things, a tablet can only consume. I love being a consumer but being a creator - that is way cooler and much more empowering.

My kids love tablets too - but they work on netbooks and laptops !

Update - sometimes it is worth having a rant - the BBC article was incorrect ( fancy that, I thought they were infallible ) In fact Highland Region are going to adopt Chrome Books to sit on top of the well developed Google for Education platform that has been adopted across the region.

I was not saying that Tablets , phones and other devices do not have  a place in learning. 


John said...

Hi Joe,
I think the tablet's can't create argument has been disproved in at least some areas. For myself, I do a lot old playing/creating on a laptop. This is because a lot of it revolves round text, HTML and a terminal. But I do see value in tablets for more visual creativity. Lightweight video editing and some graphics tasks seem to be easier on a table for example. There are a ton of creative ways to play with media on tablets. I'd even go further, I find a lot of creative use for my phone. I've >14000 photos in the camera roll 300 plus videos, made quite a few podcasts, written many blog posts.
Wrote a few posts about this a while back:
When I want to do something silly with JavaScript I'll grab my MacBook every time, but images, video, audio sometime a tablet or even smaller device is the best thing. Not sure if it is best device for classes, but I don't think it should be rejected straight away.

Joe Wilson said...

John was not suggesting no place for tablets , phones or any other just that laptop still most useful and as it happens BBC got report wrong Highland going for chrome books