Over the last few months, there have been a lot of conversations about the role of iPads in education, the shifting role of publishing companies as textbooks become obsolete. and the drive to use Web 2.0 apps as evidence of 21st Century learning. However, often the conversation is ignoring the purpose of these new technologies and the pedagogical implications. My colleague, Will Rice, sent me an excellent article, “7 Key Questions to Ask About Ed Technology, Online Learning,” that encapsulates the discussions we have been having in our office lately. Looks like we aren’t the only ones with some serious questions.
In a perfect world, tax-payer dollars would go toward the creation of public domain, educationally sound apps. I know that governments do not like to share with other governments, but imagine a world in which the apps we created were not only aligned to our curriculum and free to all our students, but also to free to all education jurisdictions globally. In this perfect world, other jurisdictions will also create high quality free apps that they would allow us to use. And given that the app was free, there would be no copyright/pirating issues (which many schools are currently forced to do if they wish to have students share class sets of iPads), nor would there be a need for collecting personal information or selling ad space. These apps, funded by the public purse would belong to the public and available for public consumption.
Unfortunately, as our slow reacting bureaucracies push us to be 21st Century teachers without providing us 21st Century tools, I fear that we are beginning to see the privatization of education – especially when we see the advent of learning analytics in the very near future.