Saturday, July 21, 2012

#iPad as Laptop Replacement: Going Post-Digital

chart of the day, ipad usage, july 2012
The graph says it all, doesn't it? For the readers of Business Insider, the iPad is gaining popularity as a desktop or laptop computer replacement. As I reflect (again) on my experiences with the iPad, I have to ask myself a simple question that it wouldn't hurt for many of us to reflect on. It's a question that we've all asked at some point when we advocate for the ascendance of mobile devices in schools:

Is this device better, more powerful than previous technologies we've had in schools?
The answer is, of course, yes. When I take a trip down memory lane, remembering the Apple //e, the Mac LC, LC II, the string of Macs and various technologies, it's clear that the iPad and tablets today provide MORE computing power and tools than those past ones. But is that enough? Is that answer sufficient? How can we justify discarding all the old tools--as productive as they are, inexpensive as they have grown, simply because of the new ones? We argue, that's the way it is. "Technology grows obsolete, we discard it, embrace the new tools, because they allow us to do what we want in more simply, in easier ways."

When I share the idea that iPads and tablets could replace computer labs, some interesting points are raised in opposition. Wait, that's not exactly right. These points are raised for consideration. For example, one of the points raised was conference periods. Teachers are accustomed to having so many periods "off" during a day. In fact, dropping kids off to the computer lab allows a school to schedule a conference period for the teacher. In a school without computer labs, where every student and teacher has access to a device, what happens to that schedule? Are principals prepared to make the transition or would they rather wait to see the change happen after they retire?

Or, what about the teachers who are employed as computer lab teachers? What would happen with those folks or that time? And, of course, doing a 1 to 1 or even a cart deployment per classroom to simulate one to one is quite expensive. As testing moves to the tablet (e.g. iPad), it's clear that there will be few real obstacles except money and the structure/culture of schools.

For example, desktop computers are at an all-time low, costing as little as $650 per unit. When you consider the cost of an iPad, plus apps, their replacement after 3 years, the finite investment of a desktop computer (all the software is available for free) is tempting.

Have schools changed sufficiently that they deserve a better technology than desktop computers that are seldom used? Whether we think so or not, as more of us come to embrace the iPad as an everyday tool that gets work done, the question will arise again--if people are using the iPad in "real life" to get work done, then why can't the structure of schools be altered to empower students with one to one tablets like the iPad and Google Nexus 7?

Of course, this is already being discussed in other places, so if your school district hasn't jumped on that bandwagon, global connectedness will provide some support:

Imagine, in 5-7 years having gone from the complexity of laying ethernet in fixed locations in schools, building broadband, deploying servers and switches all over the school to the simplicity handing out an iPad and a SIM card and getting on with the learning...This is what I mean by second-order effects of 1:1 deployment: you can't afford a 1:1 on top of everything you already do, but we are starting to learn that there are a lot of things you can stop doing when you become a - I hesitate to use the phrase - post-digital school. (Source:
What does it mean to go post-digital? I don't have a clue...

In that sense what Post Digital actually is is the end of the beginning. It marks the transition from the era where we’re excited by the shiny new digital toys that we have, and start to become excited by the changes that these shiny not-so-new toys are making in the way we live, in the objects we have around us. When all music is distributed digitally – and we’re a long way down that path – what does the music industry start to look like. When Karl Lagerfeld’s designer’s tool of choice is an iPad (or, actually, dozens of them…) how does that shape and influence the couture he created? (Source)
When do teachers and administrators get excited by the changes are making in the way we work? The truth is, schools have worked very hard to STOP the "shiny not-so-new toys" from making changes in the way we work in schools. What happens if were to just collapse rather than providing speed bumps and resistance to these ideas?

"You have to be curious. And you have to adapt to the changing world. It does not adapt to us, I am sorry," says Karl Lagerfeld. Wow. That's pretty obvious and profound. What does it mean for us in schools in the face of devices that are increasingly ubiquitous? It better mean something, or we won't.

What does the post-digital campus look like?

 And, for fun....


Watch a Trailer

And, check out this infographic on the question of, Are We Wired for Mobile Learning?


Mazie Gentner said...

This is good for everyone if we can finally replace all desktop PCs and laptops so it will be easier to manage our tasks and other activities because iPad is portable. I am searching online laptops to buy because I am not yet comfortable working using only a tablet.

Anonymous said...

As much as I love laptops, I find myself using the tablet more. The majority of usage is a mixture of small emails and entertainment and most people use electronics for these purposes. Anything else then I'd use the laptop.

@Mazie - You can try this - laptop finder to help narrow down your search.

Khushal Pura said...

As much as I love laptops, I find myself using the tablet more.

Genuine Leadership #4: Gratitude