Do you only use the microwave in your kitchen? On why 1:1 iPad schemes need rethinking in the primary school
So, technology in the primary school. I'm not sure if this analogy has been used before, but let's say the classroom is the kitchen, the meals produced the learning outcomes, and the technology in it how we can cook these meals. The teacher has the role of executive chef...
So, using no technology at all in the classroom is like producing a sandwich or a salad,for example. Nothing wrong with that, and sometimes all you need. You're not going to starve, but there's still a whole world out there of meals you could cook! A tech-free classroom restricts your learners to a 'Pret a Manger' diet - literally a diet every day of sandwiches and salads. If that's all you're used to, you probably won't complain. Indeed, many teachers have been making some amazing salads and sandwiches their whole career; their children are not starving - they're still learning....
Introducing technology into the classroom is the equivalent of beginning to use the oven, microwave, grill, or hob to prepare more adventurous meals.
I think the iPad is a great tool for learning, just as I think a microwave is a great tool for many tasks in the kitchen. But would you expect someone to use a microwave to prepare an entire roast dinner? It can help along the way but you're still going to need to use other tools at your disposal in the kitchen.
Back to the primary school classroom. Just limiting pupils' exposure to, say, the iPad means they are missing out on perhaps using the best tool for the job, and being denied the chance to choose which device best suits a task. Whilst you can type on a blog using the iPad keyboard, for example, it's arguably not the best tool to use. A desktop computer or Chromebook would be easier for that task.
It's also important not to forget that in many k̶i̶t̶c̶h̶e̶n̶s̶ classrooms there are underused o̶v̶e̶n̶s̶ computers that can still produce amazing m̶e̶a̶l̶s̶ learning outcomes if they're used in the right way. Perhaps less glamorous tools than the latest m̶i̶c̶r̶o̶w̶a̶v̶e̶ iPad, but still effective.
School management may be saying that the m̶i̶c̶r̶o̶w̶a̶v̶e̶ iPad is the way forward. Maybe through a 1:1 programme, or similar. But to end up with more rounded c̶h̶e̶f̶s̶ learners we must expose children to a greater range of technology so they can eventually choose which is the best one for the job. It may be the iPad, or indeed may be a desktop computer, Chromebook or even a Raspberry Pi. They will soon gravitate to the best tool for the job, just as a decent chef would in the kitchen.
But please don't rely solely on the m̶i̶c̶r̶o̶w̶a̶v̶e̶ iPad in your k̶i̶t̶c̶h̶e̶n̶ school!