I received a tweet a couple days ago asking why I still believed laptops, in this case MacBooks, are the right choice for middle school and high school students.
— Bradford G. Saron (@bradfordgs) January 26, 2012
Now before I begin, let me state that I firmly believe a 1:1 (one computer per student) program no matter what the connected device (device connected to the Internet) is better than no 1:1 program at all. If a school can only afford an iPad for ever student then that’s the best choice.
However, many schools, especially here internationally and private schools in the states, have the option to buy either an iPad or a MacBook and for them I am recommending MacBooks for Middle School and High School 1:1 programs.
Consumption vs Creation
At the end of the day the iPad is designed for the consumption of information. This is not the shift I’m looking for in education. Yes…you can create some things on the iPad but it doesn’t take long to max out the iPad’s creative potential. I am not talking creating music, or taking a video. I’m talking the mashup of videos from different sources, the creation of music from different sources as well as the programs and apps I want students to be creating today.
Apple sees the iPad as a consumption device, and it does a really really good job of it, giving the consumer a beautiful interface to consume through. Apple’s latest announcement where they unveiled iBook Author I think just makes this point stronger. You create the textbook, or any book for that matter, on the computer and you consume the information on the iPad. As much as I want digital textbooks, what I really want is students to create their own books.
For middle school and high school students I want them creating sophisticated projects, I want them collaborating, like I’m doing today on a Google Doc using the built in chat feature. I want them making apps, videos, and music…not the kind that get a couple views, but the kind that go viral.
If you want to plan for the future
Now if you really want to plan for the future, and by that I mean the next two years, then students should have both an iPad and a MacBook. I know one school who is looking at this option and I believe that’s the future.The iPad and tablets
will are changing the way we consume information no doubt about it. We need to be preparing students to consume information that is digital, updated, and constantly changing.
want need creators and that’s where I love to focus my time. We do a really good job in schools have kids consume information, we don’t do a very good job of having them create new information out of what they are learning.
My Perfect School
I’ve been asked on several occasions what my perfect school looks like. Today as it stands in January 2012 this would be my perfect school.
PreK – 1st Grade: 1 iPad for every two students: iPads stay at school owned and managed by the school.
2 – 3rd Grade: 1:1 iPad program: Each student has their own iPad and iPads primarily stay at school and can be checked out by the parents to take home if need/wanted.
4th Grade: 1:1 iPad and 1:1 Laptop: The iPads are allowed to be taken home and are tied to a guardians account. The school purchases a set of “standard apps” anything above that is up to the parents. The laptops stay at school and can be checked out by the parents to take home if need/wanted.
5th Grade: 1:1 iPad and 1:1 Laptop: Same as 4th grade however the students at some point during the year gain the responsibility of taking both the iPad and the Laptop home. 5th Grade is a great time to do this because:
- In 5th grade students still only have one classroom teacher. This sense of classroom community is a great place to talk about responsibility and practice it.
- A good time to practice taking care of your devices before hitting middle school where students have 4 to 6 different classes in 4 to 6 different classrooms with 4 to 6 different teachers.
- Allow students to learn to organize their digital lives so they are not trying to figure this out at the same time they are learning a new “schooling” system of lockers, freedom and multiple classes.
6 -12th Grade: 1:1 iPad and 1:1 Laptop: Both devices become the sole responsibility of the student. The school loads a “standard” set of software on all devices and the students/parents are responsible for managing the rest.
Of course there are a lot of things “schooling” that would need to change too and trying to bring this into a school that already is established and has a history would be messy…very messy, which is why most administrators won’t attempt it.
But if I was starting a new school today….this would be the given and every parents would know from day one what we’ll be using and here’s what we would expect from the students and from the parents as their responsibility for learning.