Education Technology Is Always An Exciting Frontier
It is not like technology in schools is a new thing – I have after all been following an education technology newsletter for a couple of years now. I remember when there was some kind of deal going on with Texas Instruments for a few years with the schools I went to, back when the idea of electronic calculators coming in and replacing mental addition was considered some kind of harbinger of the apocalypse or some such.
Computers for a long time were the preserve of those who joined after school clubs, and in the UK really weren’t a big thing until well into the nineties. Around about this time I was researching the information super highway while rattling through a terrible dial-up connection onto primarily word based websites. Oh, how time’s have changed.
STEM, which teaches science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and which at one point was working specifically to get more girls interested as a way of correcting the gender disparity in the tech industry has been a great idea.
Apple entering the classroom could of course be criticized in the same way that any commercial venture in education might – but is it pushing for the same notion of brand loyalty that you get when you look at Zuckerberg and his apps for kids? To me it doesn’t feel the same, but I have to admit of course that my temperature gauge for Cook has gone up while it has started to plummet with Zuckerberg. Facebook – the necessary evil. Apple – more of a creative wellspring.
Tomorrow’s Kids Will Start Early And Be Better Equipped Technologically
Anyway – Schoolwork, an app for teachers is launching this week. It is an app that allows a teacher to distribute assignments, track student’s progress, collaborate with them, and the teacher can make assignments within specific apps. Sounds like a great idea, and you hardly imagine the endgame is to forward that data anywhere else but to the Apple Design team, so they can tweak and improve anything for future iterations.
Privacy is starting to become a very central thing in Apple’s rhetoric about their products, and their past defense of people’s data gives credence to that.
Their man competitor in the field, at the moment, is Google, with their Chromebook solutions. The Chromebooks are cheaper of course, and they are innovating in their own ways.
Classrooms, Google’s browser based platform currently has 30 million students using it, and while they aren’t as trusted as Apple in terms of their privacy and security measures, they aren’t in anyway dealing with the same perception problems as Facebook.
One interesting new feature is that teachers can put Chromebooks on lockdown when handing out a classroom quiz, meaning the kids can’t surf for answers. managed Chromebooks, sold with the idea that they are specifically for use in the classroom are a great idea. They are bringing in a central place for students and teachers to touch base within the system.
Microsoft’s education themed announcement was underwhelming, and given their tendency to do things to your computer that you don’t ask for, may, at least in my mind, rule them out as a stable platform to build classroom activities around.
Anyway, generally, there are some exciting developments, that, as log as they remain in service of the kids using them, and are not used as a shoe-in to create brand awareness in those using them (which to be fair, is, to some degree, unavoidable) then it could be a really good thing.
Kids are already tech savvy pretty early on in their lives, and using this to help them learn seems like a really smart way to leverage an environment in which they already feel comfortable. Education basics are always going to stay the same, but an evolving classroom is not a bad thing.
Just measuring the evolution of technology within my own lifetime in the classroom saw unbelievable leaps and bounds – from an abacus to an electronic calculator, through solar powered calculators, to computers, to phones. Who wouldn’t want to live in a world where they can access the entire Encyclopedia Britannica on a small screen, rather than having to pore through 30-odd volumes? Although for a book worm that does also have a certain appeal.
How long until kids are strapping on their Oculus Ridge headsets and logging into their VR classrooms?