On Friday, the Globe and Mail posted this story. “Toddlers with tablets will force a change in education“. To me, it introduced the term “Tablettistes”, which is pretty cool, and may well describe parts of a whole new generation of learners entering school. The article is a good read and I’d recommend every parent who has a child entering the educational system to give it a read. It goes without saying that it’s something that Early Years’ educators should take a look at as well.
There are lots of things that need to be thought through if you’re the parent involved. I think everyone who supported the implementation of electronic report cards shudders when you think back to the number of times that you’d here “My spouse knows computers and she/he couldn’t make it work.” Will we see a repeat?
The “spouse who knows computers” may well be a whiz at crafting a Word document or generating an Excel spreadsheet that will create various interactive scenarios given a variety of inputs. Education is a completely different monster.
While the business world thrives on a selection of a few applications, entrepreneurs see the parent consumer as a fresh area to market. Without naming names, there are applications that will teach you foreign languages, raise your mathematics skills, make science fun, … you know the drill. It’s appealing, I’m sure. After all, who wants their four year old to be at the bottom of the class because you didn’t fork out the money to buy the tablet and the software. On the other side, you could load up the tablet with all kinds of games that pass themselves off as edutainment!
What’s a parent to do?
Hopefully, everyone’s not running out to their local electronics store to take advantage of back to school tablet sales without thinking things through carefully. Have you contacted the school to try to get a sense of where they stand with respect to this? Have you contacted the new teacher for the fall to get an idea of what the child could be doing at home? Have you lost sense of what it’s like to be young and headed to a new environment? There’s a great deal more to being a kid than getting tied into homework!
If you must, and many will, I would suggest making that classroom connection to find out just what can be done to support the classroom. If the class ends up with a blog, sit together and look at the content and have the child relate what happened in class to generate the content of the blog. Even now, browse the school’s website together. Look at the pictures and artifacts that are placed online. Discuss and generate the excitement for learning.
Let common sense be the guide. Don’t get drowned in the hundreds and hundreds of applications that are available. There is lots of time for that to happen.