Monday, 20 May 2013

Parents we have an iPad problem

Sat down in a funky little cafe in St Kilda this morning (for breakfast) reflecting on a wonderful teaching and learning conference I had just attended over the past 3 days. A young family joined us at the table next to us. The father began analysing the menu whilst the Mum reached into her oversized handbag and pulled out the child's pacifier. The pacifier was a little larger than the normal one. The pacifier was an iPad, an amazing tool that I use on a daily basis with my students and the staff I mentor.

We use the iPad in a plethora of ways from digital storytelling, world building, multimedia presentations, Augmented Reality, student feedback giving, observational record keeping.......I could go on and on.

Not a doubt in my mind the iPad is tool, that when used by motivated students and innovative educators, learning is both enhanced and engaged in.

Back to the family sitting next to me. Mum and Dad converse openly. Child does not make a sound for the entire meal.

Time to fly back to Queensland, family sits a couple of rows in front of me. This time Mum and Dad and 2 children. The first, a boy 4 years of age and the second, a young female toddler. Both parents hand over an iPad each to their children. Over the course of the flight both children say very little, but I watch closely. Both are watching movies and using coloring in Apps.

So what's the problem?

Our world is changing, and the world our children will enter into during and after school is much different to that of our generation. Firstly, we passively consumed Media. We watched TV and later consumed the Internet by browsing websites. Secondly, the work place required a different set of skills to that our children will require.

We are entering a time in history where creativity and divergent thinking is what our children will require in the work place. As Dan Pink states:

"The future belongs to a different kind of person with a different kind of mind: artists, inventors, storytellers-creative and holistic "right-brain" thinkers whose abilities mark the fault line between who gets ahead and who doesn't."

I recently viewed a concert on Youtube. The concert was a little different.

This needs a little explaining. 

  1. This is a real audience. 
  2. The singer is completely virtual.
  3. The concert was sold out in 3 countries.


A team of individuals created this character collaboratively using completely open source and free software. No ones owns this character. Anyone, or more likely group, can create a concert using this free software. 

I could give more examples. Wikipedia. Who would of thought the largest resource site would be created and fed by us, hobbyists and enthusiasts who don't look for payment or recognition. Wikipedia succeeded because we are changing and the world is changing. Microsofts plans for a CD encyclopedia (ENCARTA), hiring the best academics and writers in the world, was blown out of the water because it didn't involve us. We are creators and collaborators and we own the Internet.

So why do I have a problem with iPads. Young children are being kept quite by iPads. Young students are being kept quite using iPads in a passive and extremely unnatural way. This is the problem Parents need to address. We are fostering an environment that is completely foreign to the generation coming through. We are fostering skills that will be (currently are) obsolete.

I see greatness with tools like the iPad. I see naturally innovative and creatively blessed minds using iPads in creative and innovative ways.

Unfortunately I also see something else and it worries me.


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