Plug in – but tune in, too @timeshighered

Inspiring stuff from Duke University, where they issued all first-year students with iPods, with no particular idea of what they were going to do with them pedagogically:

Well, not so fast. I believe strongly in the importance of education addressing the urgencies of the moment, but I also oppose “techno-determinism”: the tendency to think that a technology in and of itself promotes systemic change. The point of our experiment was not that an expensive technology can reform institutional practice. Rather, we were trying to orchestrate an exercise in calculated disruption – seeking to reorder some of the terms and consequences of learning in higher education. I am against the mere technologising of higher education. But I am an ardent proponent of calculated disruption of the pedagogical status quo with the aim of reshaping education for the Broadcast Yourself era of the interactive, digital age. That’s a mouthful. Let me explain.

In 2003, there was not a single known educational use for the iPod. When Apple approached Duke about giving out some technology to students as part of an Apple Digital Campus initiative, it was thinking more about laptops or multimedia suites. We went with iPods for two reasons. First, students loved them. Second, we were interested in what learning applications students might come up with if challenged to think about pedagogical uses of a technology that was already part of their everyday life. This is the opposite of the usual educational pedagogy based on the “cod liver oil” approach, where you force students to do what is “good for them” no matter how distasteful.

She finishes:

These components of pedagogical participation are essential. We can’t just drop some new electronic device into education and think our job is done. Quite the contrary, new technology is merely a catalyst for a serious rethinking of higher education for the Information Age.

Academic Digital

Learning with the iPad

Engaging, educational apps, on a lightweight moveable tool… can be used across the age-groups. Learning anytime, anywhere…


No Spark Kindled

The e-reader cannot surpass the pleasures of the page, says Gary Day, where everything is illuminated

Let’s hear no more about Kindle, Amazon’s “Revolutionary Wireless Reading Device”. It looks like a roof slate. A moment of carelessness and it could be used to fix a leak. So what if it can store 3,500 books? Who is going to read that many in a lifetime? Who can read that many? That’s about 46 books a year, providing you start as soon as you pop into the world and carry on until you pop out of it.

And what if you leave it on a train? There goes your entire library. No, give me the hardback or the paperback. The one gives you gravitas, the other establishes your democratic credentials.

You can also write in the margins. Try doing that on a Kindle. In the 14th century they emblazoned their margins: great drapes of colour drawn back to let the words shine forth. Open a medieval parchment and you stare into the heart of light. Switch on a Kindle and you get 16 shades of grey. The Beauty of Books: Medieval Masterpieces (BBC Four, Monday 14 February, 8.30pm) was a joy.

The Luttrell Psalter and The Canterbury Tales were examined in turn. Adjectives like “earthy”, “whimsical” and “grotesque” abounded. The Psalter, bustling with images of daily life, was commissioned by a landowner, Geoffrey Luttrell. He tried to get on the right of side of God by being portrayed with Truth and Mercy. Dr Carolyne Larrington of St John’s College, Oxford ticked off the illustrator who gave Chaucer’s clerk a bow (“quite inappropriate”) before reading a racy excerpt from The Merchant’s Tale in a monotone. Quite inappropriate.

This story grabbed my attention, as although I love technology where appropriate, and I’m happy to read documents/research texts online, I really don’t enjoy reading fiction on my iPad… nothing better than curling up with a good book! Read full story.


Going PaperLess in Meetings #iPad

Today, at a meeting that I regularly go to, I decided to go ‘paperless’. The papers for the committee had already been emailed to me (rather than the usual internal post, which can be hard for me to get as I’m only in 2 days a week), and so were accessible via my email online.Some thoughts:

  • I had a choice whether to open them as non-editable from the email or open them in other Apps I have installed, where I am more likely to be able to comment & annotate.
  • As I thought of things, I could email myself, or tweet things out to a wider audience (which got some really interesting responses, not that I fed them back into the session!), or email someone, so actioning immediately.
  • For this session, I emailed myself notes, rather than annotating online, largely because I haven’t had time to find the right app yet, and I wanted to concentrate in the meeting rather than be focused on the technology.
  • I found it a little difficult to work out which paper we were on, as it was referred to by the chair by the document subject, rather than the attachment number given to the file emailed out. This, however, would be easy to rectify, particularly if the chair is also using an iPad.
  • Similarly, when people talk about page numbers, these don’t exist if the document is opened straight from email (one long document). Potentially open in ‘Pages’ which is the iPad equivalent of Word (with Keynote for PowerPoint and Numbers for Excel, with documents exportable between the two).
  • The iPad belongs to my department, rather than to me, but to use it, I’ve had to sync with my iTunes account. Other people have a desire to borrow it, but at present there’s a lot of my personal information, so we need to look at a departmental login (but there are 3 of us from the department in this particular committee!). See review.
  • I got several people talking to me, who wanted to have a play with the iPad… as I’ve commonly said, demonstrating by example is the best way (sometimes its finding the time to demonstrate though!). We are looking at purchasing iPads so that most committees can go paperless – they would pay for themselves very quickly (in reduced paper costs), and aid the environmental agenda (well, if you take manufacturing out of the equation at least).
  • We particularly think that for those taking minutes this will make a great difference, as notes will already be in online form, and therefore the production of minutes will be much less time-intensive, freeing up time for other tasks.
  • If everyone is on the iPad (and we have good WiFi so no need for 3G iPads… if extra signal is required, a MiFi could be purchased), then extra documents to illustrate a point, etc. could be circulated immediately amongst delegates.
  • Yes, a laptop or Notepad could do a similar job, but the iPad is so lightweight and so right for the job, that it seems a key tool.

Have other people used iPads or similar devices similarly, and has particular advice, warnings, or enthusiasms to provide?

Academic Digital Event

The iPad – A Game Changer for E-Learning? // Graham Brown-Martin // #jiscel10

The article by Graham Brown Martin prepared for the #jiscel10 conference is fascinating, particularly having reviewed one recently, and finding that others want to use it, but because of the way iTunes works, it has been personalised to me, and I don’t particularly want people being able to use my email, etc. I have picked out some of the sections that particularly stood out for me:

The fact is that the office metaphor doesn’t work anymore, it’s just not relevant to the way most people now wish to see their lives. Why do we need to have a “computer” with an “operating system” that we must master with endless “applications and drivers” to configure and so on? As I wondered out loud in a recent volley on one of the Becta research lists – why do I need a bulky lump of tech with a lardy OS when I just want to surf, write, look and listen? If a computer is really advanced then anyone should be able to use it without any formal training.

This razor blade business model of constantly buying bloated operating systems, massive applications, managed services and an industry that exists to show you how to switch it all on and off has got to be heading for the cemetery.

So can I carry out most of my day to day work using an iPad?…

In a few short weeks I’ve found that my iPad, like a sort of transitional love object, is rarely far from my finger tips. But here lies a new problem. The iPad is intended as a personal device, it’s not easily adaptable for sharing. Friends, family and interested bystanders who want to hold and test the device have access to my private email, social media accounts, etc. There is no “guest account” and from what I understand nothing on the horizon although a printing App is coming soon. If this really is a new, third category of device between the smart phone and the laptop then guest or multiple accounts is a must.

The most surprising aspect of her immediate use of the iPad was an instantaneous understanding of how to operate it without any instruction at all. Of course, she’d had the experience of using Apps on her iPhone but that also required no instruction and the skills were completely transferable but how she used the iPad as a consequence of the size of the screen was different and noticeably better.

Not as qualified… to say how valuable this new device is to the learning and teaching process after all until it’s used as a tool it is just an inanimate piece of tech. It’s usefulness will surely depend upon how it’s deployed

Yet schools in some parts of the country and indeed HHL Girls own school where she is due to join this September are ill-prepared for this generation. They are still preoccupied with interactive white boards, ICT suites, keyboarding skills, learning platforms, educational software that is so boring your grandmother would die using it… Some will be unlucky and will risk being a generation lost to somnambulism at best or Ritalin at worst, accused of being disruptive because they can not contain their desire to learn.

Other stories about the iPad on here (including a review as an educational tool).