What’s Wrong With Education Cannot Be Fixed With Technology, But…

Michael Tsai on Apple’s Textbooks Announcement:

Glenn Fleishman:

Kids are bored. The iPad is fun and engaging, Schiller explained. This is the same contention made for decades, and I challenge readers to find any longitudinal studies tracking students who have used or are using packaged multimedia-enhanced instruction showed measured and consistent improvement over control groups.

This immediately made me think of a quote from Steve Jobs:

I used to think that technology could help education. I’ve probably spearheaded giving away more computer equipment to schools than anybody else on the planet. But I’ve had to come to the inevitable conclusion that the problem is not one that technology can hope to solve. What’s wrong with education cannot be fixed with technology. No amount of technology will make a dent.

Based on my experience with iBooks 2 on an iPad 1, I much prefer paper textbooks. This is not to say that electronic textbooks are a bad idea. The speed and resolution will improve. In the last year, I came to prefer reading non-textbooks on a Kindle. In time, I presume that tablets will catch up to paper textbooks.

But, like Fleishman, I do not see this as a revolution in education.

via Michael Tsai – Blog – Apple’s Textbook Plan Feels Like a Blast From the Past.

This blog post and the arguments outlined herein seem misleading to me, akin to being a good writer if you have a Mont Blanc pen. That’s all that iBooks 2 and digital interactive textbooks can promise – to provide the possibility of engaging lessons and interactive learning, but they cannot replace a good teacher or a motivated student. The medium and the user are not one here and no current technology at least can promise to fuse both. So Steve Jobs and Glenn Fleishman (and Michael Tsai) are right: “what’s wrong with education cannot be fixed with technology,” but technology can and does help in the hands of the right user. Would anybody argue that Web 2.0 tools as simple as blogs and wikis have not changed how many teachers teach? Would anybody complain about the use of video, mind-mapping tools like Inspiration and, even more basic than all of those, the internet in the classroom? Sure there are issues, but as with any tool, let’s place the responsibility where it truly lies – with the user.

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