I went to a really interesting session by Jon Landis, Development Executive with Apple, Inc. with the title Enhancing Learning and Teaching with Mobile Technologies. He talked about his life journey originally training and then teaching as a Chemistry high school teacher. He made his students memorize the periodic table in the first week and used the same method for years. His turning point was seeing a good student doing redox reactions using the wrong symbol for Iron and getting the reactions right, but with the wrong symbols. Using the right recipe but with the wrong ingredients. It was the spark that led him to change his whole teaching approach. He gave out copies of periodical tables at the start of year and tested at end of year. Instead of trivial learning it led to memory by context.
Printed paper was a technology when invented. All inventions have an impact. The printing press was a major revolution, a transformative technology. Today we are living in a transformative digital time. An example was given of how as a first parent the speaker rang his parent in the night to find out what to do. Now you google it and potentially upload pictures and digitally interact with experts for answers.
When you turn to formal education the look is the same as centuries ago. Buildings, lecture theatres, and lectures. Information is stored away in books and lecturer’s heads. Lectures are telling the story. It is not the only tool for transforming content. Adopting technology allows for an efficiency improvement. Those born after 2001 the social media generation. Those born after 2008 the mobile generation.
Examples were given defining each of the section in the following diagram. Moving from just scanning and placing a book on Moodle (Substitution) to an example of an ebook that is interactive with moving images, videos, hyperlinks and diagrams (Augmentation) to using iBook app to transform lecture notes into a personalized iBook (Modification) to an example of a University project working with high school students about ecology interviewing the students on their interests, developing their text book with examples and adopting it with guidance and direction and input from others (Redefinition).
The second half of the presentation was more of a soft apple sell. Initially discussing the take over of lap top from PC due to affordability and technology around in 2008, but then the tablet explosion with the iPad introduction in 2010 being the fasted adopted technology. The iPad also allows for accessibility being light, easy to use, can allow for voice activation not just for visual disabled, but also allows for listening to text and in various languages. With apps the iPad is glass on top of an ecosystem. He then went on to talk of a couple of apps with educative application. Explain everything is utilized by a teaching colleague who set maths problems for her students who then used the app to verbalize as they worked out the problem and then shared their problems with 3 classmates who could then learn by their process as well as contribute to other ways of thinking through the problem. Another example of a Shakespeare app. Rather than attempting to read the play and get it explained in class later to actually see via the app the context visually of what is being talked about in the play with hyperlinks to explanations of terms and links to articles and further readings and context. If the students pre use this app before class the conversations in class is much more fruitful.
We are teaching in their futures and we need to raise the bar for accountability. The final apple sell was the consistency in platform and control factor allowing for one ecosystem. Smart tools, smart people, smart technology.