“if the purpose of education is not what education does for a student, but does to a student, then the goal of education is not simply information, but formation…” – Les Frost, 1999
Necesitamos cambiar como tratamos la educación, y las herramientas que usamos para educar a nuestros hijos. Technology isn’t a toy.
It is so much more.
We need to understand, both in the larger American community and amongst Latinos, that tablet computing and social media are the next evolution in education, and we need to push our schools and our students to embrace them and prepare for the future that is here.
Technology, by definition, means “the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes.” The advancement from clay tablets to paper, that was technology. It was a change in the manner of learning, of maintaining the historical record, of passing information, and it shaped the way people interacted. The shift from copying texts by hand to the printing press, that was technology. It changed European society, making literacy a much more common occurrence, because the price of books dropped with mass production, and with books more common, incentive to read and gain knowledge for oneself greater. It also meant that the elite (read: wealthy) members of society no longer held exclusive sway over religious or political knowledge, because The Holy Bible or books like Machiavelli’s The Prince were readily available. The pipeline of information was widened so that more people could access it.
Today we have fully entered the digital age. As a nation, and a human society, we have moved from print to cyberspace. Pero esta vez, tenemos la oportunidad de hacer este tipo de tecnología accesible a todos, no solo a aquellos con los recursos necesarios. This technological shift, from iPads (and iPods and Galaxy Tabs) is a sociological and educational earthquake, which will break down the walls of privilege and demolish the foundations of inequality if we change how we conceive tools.
Are iPads cool? Yes! Are they expensive? ¡Por supuesto! Are they worth the investment in our children? ¡Solamente si queremos brindarles la oportunidad de ser exitosos! We need to understand that iPads are the next invention to change the world: paper, printing press, iPads.
Technology, in this case the tablet computer, is simply the tool we use to succeed. The problem with Apple and the iPad is that we continue to see it as a toy, a shiny bauble that wealthy people play with and unwealthy people envy. We see social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr) as time-wasting nothingness. And there are pieces of that which are true. But they can be so much more.
Facebook can be a means of connecting with students, with teachers, with parents, and school communities, sharing events and information in a central location. Twitter in the classroom can be the voice of quieter students who are unable or unwilling to shout to be heard. YouTube allows sharing of projects and assessments with parents, grandparents, padrinos, tíos and others, validating student effort and achievements, and allowing students to share what they’ve learned. Flickr is another central location focused on the sharing of photos of class trips, student projects, etc. All of these are accessible, along with textbooks, notes, recorded lectures, novels, video clips and student essays on the iPad our children should be carrying when they walk into school in September.
We wouldn’t deny our children paper and pens and expect them to succeed in school.
Our children need tablets, computers, iPads. The world is already moving past books and paper. As adults, we use sites like Latinos in Social Media and Latino Rebels to connect with, to encourage, to learn from, to support and to engage with gente who are working with similar goals, with similar aspirations, who have knowledge and skills and desires that complement ours. Why do we expect our children to be different?
I make this argument not as an expert in education, though I’ve been teaching in public and private schools for sixteen years (and in schools for thirty-four); nor as a science-fiction fan who sees in the tablet the desks on which Ender Wiggin played the fantasy game.
I make this argument as a parent of two middle school-bound students, looking toward their educational future with excitement and their future careers and employment with uncertainty. The iPad, the tablet computer, the window on the world and the universe that you can hold in your hands, is the vehicle our children will ride into the future.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Reynaldo A. Macías teaches history, politics, citizenship, technology and public speaking in Southern California. In his spare time, he writes political analysis and commentary focusing on the recovery of the United States, and the continuing struggle of the American populace to reconcile the present circumstance with the ideals envisioned and codified by the founding documents of the United States on his blog. A graduate of both the University of California, Los Angeles and Brown University, Reynaldo has been an educator and published author for the last fifteen years. When not writing lesson plans or peeling back the layers of modern patriotism, Reynaldo also prides himself an amateur photographer and aspiring novelist.