“There’s an app for that.” Thanks to Apple, this phrase is a commonality today. These powerful, handy, ultraportable personal-sized computers have rapidly found their way into nearly every facet of daily life. Answers are literally at the tip of our fingertips in mere seconds and it appears that Vanilla Ice’s wise words of, “If you got a problem, yo I’ll solve it” has become a reality thanks to technology improving exponentially. In fact, the number of available apps is so extensive that you can find an app to help you with just about anything at all. It seems as if everyone from your five-year-old cousin to your 90-year-old grandma has an iPhone and if you don’t have some sort of smartphone at all, then you’re completely out of the loop, off the grid, and so ancient you might as well go back to Bedrock.
More than 1.75 billion people in 2014 used a smartphone and that number is only on the rise. If that many people, worldwide, are using smartphones, then why aren’t we teaching with smartphones and tablets in all classrooms? Many schools are, but my school is not. How are we supposed to get our students “college and career ready” if we are not preparing them to use the tools they will use on a daily basis in college and in their career? We’ve implemented the common core, with rigorous question sets, and are beginning to take the PARCC assessment, but my classroom of 30 low income students, still sit through class without iPads to learn on. Yes, I know, they are expensive, but they ARE what the students need in order to be ready for their future. My students come from families that don’t have Internet access in their homes nor do they even have computers. So when they go to take the PARCC test on the computer this year, they are at an extreme disadvantage. They barely know how to type on the computer and even though they have been exposed to the computer in school, a few hours a week is not enough.
How many successful companies still manage payroll or keep paper files versus electronically? Very few, if any. Paper and pencil are still necessary, but they are not the epicenter of learning. Teachers are being trained and educated on how to educate in the digital era, but we are not being provided with the platforms and tools needed to apply this knowledge! It perplexes me. Therefore, it is evident that each student in my class needs an iPad, laptop, Chromebook, or tablet to learn on everyday. With these “cool tools” we will be able to access thousands of apps, many even for free. Engaging the students will be a thing of the past. Creating meaningful learning to help them become college and career ready won’t even be discussed. Being able to use a computer or tablet effectively to create, share, explore, research, publish, and connect WILL give them the skills they need for the future as a 21st century learner!
Still not convinced that a full class set of tablets or laptops is what my class needs? Then let’s talk resources. According to Ben Johnson and his article, “Paper and Pencil Curriculum: How Much do you Rely on it?” we know some ballpark numbers, on average, for how much schools spend on paper. “Let’s say that in a school of 100 teachers, each teacher gets a 50-ream allotment. Each ream holds 500 sheets, so per teacher, that would be 25,000 pieces of paper. In a class of 30 students that is 833 pieces of paper per student per year. This would mean at a school of 100 teachers, that school would use 250,000 piece of paper annually. With that, a school like this would spend approximately $7,500 per year on printing on this paper and paper itself costs $25,000, not to mention costs of copy toner and service agreements. So, I’m thinking that every school could use an extra $30,000 to $50,000.” (Johnson, B. (2011, February 23). With the use of tablets in the classroom, books could be digital as well. Not only would this save paper, but it would save space! Closets are filled with textbooks, shelves are stacked, and space is limited.
So what do you say? Let’s bring education to life! Interactive technology makes learning more engaging and memorable. Say goodbye to homework getting lost is a sea of papers and students missing assignments. Let’s say hello to collaboration. Hello to equal opportunities for all children, whether they have a computer at home or not. Let’s get connected. Let’s revolutionize the way we teach. Embrace technology, educate for the future, think outside the box, innovate, investigate, and research; do it all on a laptop or tablet.
“The global smartphone audience surpassed the 1 billion mark in 2012 and will total 1.75 billion in 2014. eMarketer expects smartphone adoption to continue on a fast-paced trajectory through 2017,”
Johnson, B. (2011, February 23). Paper and Pencil Curriculum: How Much Do You Rely on It? Retrieved February 11, 2015, from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/paperless-schools-techology-ben-johnson