- Allow students the latitude to express their knowledge in different ways and with different tools wherever possible—and subject to your prior approval. The process of learning should be more personally meaningful and motivational.
- Let them find and bring tools that they are most comfortable using.
- Give them the latitude to be teachers as well as learners. When they invent, discover, or master something new, have them teach others and create tutorials that you post online.
Our desire for controlling the use of technology is emblematic of a deeper problem. Top-down institutional control isn’t a workable model in an era where the marketplace requires graduates to have skills for learning anything, anywhere, and at any time. Following instruction is important, but there’s also an urgent need to develop personal innovation—the sort of flexible, creative thought and action that’s required to deal with a world of tumultuous change.
Innovation requires that we open the metaphorical classroom windows and doors. Instead, we still feel more comfortable keeping them closed. Is it about control, or are we more concerned with efficiency? Are we making decisions based on their needs or ours?
Whenever I discuss iPad or BYOD implementations in schools, one of the first issues raised usually revolves around problems associated with management and control. iPads are difficult to manage on an institutional level. That could be a blessing in disguise. Maybe it presents us with the right timing and opportunity to finally allow students to manage their devices and develop their skills as independent and responsible learners.
Sam Gliksman is the author of “iPad in Education for Dummies.” Sam can be reached via eMail at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter at @samgliksman.