The $1 billion dollar iPad roll-out in Los Angeles is on hold for the time-being since three students hacked their district-issued iPads within days.
Far more disturbing than this is that there appears to have been little or no discussion with LA teachers regarding the educational content on these devices. Pearson appear to have this sewn-up.
Teachers are all different. They have their own individual styles, strengths, habits and foibles; it is getting the right blend of these characteristics that makes a school great. Children are all different, too, and this means that each child will always find a teacher in an educational institution that they admire, respect, and see as a role model. It’s this unique blend of individuals that makes every single school develop its own culture and ethos, and thus allows (some) parents to have a choice in the education of their child.
Given this, it should come as no surprise that teachers like to choose resources which supplement their own good work – resources that complement their own style of teaching and will work with the blend of individuals that are in their charge. I have taught in four very different schools and had to adapt my teaching style every time. “One-size fits all” just does not work. Teachers have been prescribed enough with the Common Core Standards (or the National Curriculum in the UK) without having to be told exactly how to deliver them.
So that’s my first problem with Pearson providing the content for these iPads. My second is this: I’m afraid that for all their vast financial investment, the Pearson Common Core System of Courses is uninspiring, and in no way matches the innovative nature of the iPad itself. They do not delight. As I have stated in previous blogs, subject-specific apps need to offer something new: technology alone does not raise standards. The simple rule is this: educational apps need to enhance existing provision, rather than simply replace existing teachers, worksheets and textbooks if they are to have an impact. Innovation of this nature tends to come from individuals finding solutions to their own problems, rather than corporate, salaried employees being paid to search for them.
I’m sure educators in Los Angeles will be able to introduce and use other resources apart from Pearson’s. If not, it won’t be the students hacking their devices – it will be the teachers.