The Strength of Weak Ties

Everyone participates. Everyone contributes. Leveraging the power of digital networks to connect people, resources and ideas to drive creativity and innovation forward...and actually accomplish something!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Tablet Schmablet

I believe that technology becomes valuable as a tool when it extends learning- when it takes learning to a new place altogether that couldn’t be reached unless the technology was present. So, frankly, I’m quickly tiring of all the talk surrounding the impact of tablet PC’s.

I’ve been to several presentations about the “transformative” nature of tablet PC’s in the classroom at technology conferences. Several districts in my area have “tablet initiatives.” I even have one that I haven’t turned on in months. So far, I’m not impressed and I’m certainly not convinced that they have enough added value to warrant serious considertion as a replacement for laptops or even desktops in classrooms. And most importantly, I have not seen them used in pedagogical situations where you just had to use a tablet, and nothing else would do.

And I don’t care that you can write on them. I don’t care that you can hand them to a kid, instead of having the kid go up to the board or to an overhead. I don’t care that you can highlight in colors. I need more.

A recent article in a technology magazine about tablets had this to say from teachers and administrators that had those tablet initiatives. “Teachers created outlines for each class, projected those outlines onto a screen, and used tablet technology to scribble down notes on the file while lecturing.”

I would just use an overhead and a dime transparency.

Here’s another: Working though math problems on their tablets instead of paper and emailing the answers to the teacher.

Paper and pencil for me. I get enough email....

Another: “Tablets are just so much easier to use, write on, and take notes on.”

Take notes? See earlier comment about paper and pencil.

Here’s more: Students can take notes on their machines with the electronic pen, and teachers can review those notes without ever physically handling any paper….as teachers present a lesson, they use the pen-based tablet to scribble notes on a PowerPoint slide….
See a pattern here?

What this amounts to is taking a 21st Century tool and applying it to old school teaching, industrial age teaching, where information is transferred passively to even more passive learners....

I want a learning initiative. I want a classroom like a Starbucks with round tables and big, comfy chairs instead of the 6x5 classroom grid, where the teacher presents an essential authentic question to kids and then serves as a catalyst (no retro-80's guide on the side or co-learner for me!). The kids have been through information literacy instruction, so they know how to tackle the question. They form the necessary relationships within the class that are required to solve the problem at hand. Each kid locates the information they need, stores it into their account, distills the information and records pertinent material into the new Google Notebook, communicates with other members of the class or group via Vaestro, IM, or something else that they like and find productive that we currently block in school, and then navigates within the wireless network of my sticky Starbucksroom to the class wiki where the answer is mashed-up by the class, or by groups, or by whatever entity makes the most sense, as determined by the kids.

Oh, I almost forgot. They do all this on their tablets.

Originally posted at David Jakes posts every Thursday at


  • At 7:07 PM , Blogger cowtownchick said...

    Everything you can do on a tablet you can do on a piece of paper, true... but the industry I'm in uses a massive amount of paper... and when we switched to tablet pc's, we can keep in touch, send copies out, make quick changes without reprinting, and get instant feedback. From a waste elimination standpoint, the tablet is infinitely more valuable. It's also difficult to walk around a warehouse with a laptop... always needing to find a place to set it down to use it.... the tablet is far superior in that respect... with built in wireless capeability, it's now your clipboard, communication tool, and computer all in one... when I used to carry the laptop around, and needed to do a quick sketch to illustrate an idea, I had to drop the laptop, and find a piece of paper, then run to a photocopier to distribute the idea... now I do a quick sketch, email it out, and everyone's got it in minutes, with no paper waste... and the fact that the tablet can double as a laptop when needed, makes it a far superior tool in my opinion. I have both... and to be honest, the tablet is outrunning the laptop in mileage if you know what I mean... :o)

    But that's just me... :o)


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home