Thoughts on Technology in Education

Every so often, inventions come that revolutionize the education world. The printing press was invented by Johannes Gutenberg in 1436. The projector was invented in 1837. In the 1970’s, the first personal/consumer computers came onto the market. in 1984, the first computer with a graphical user interface was born (The Apple Macintosh). In 2010, Apple released the iPad. I believe the iPad was the product that Steve Jobs aimed to produced when he begin to develop a computer for the mass market back in the early days of Apple. In fact, Jobs often talked about building a Macintosh in a ‘book’ form. We’ve arrived at ‘personal’ technology.

The future of technology in education looks bright. I believe that technology is going to get more advanced while getting simpler to use. I like the call this ‘simplicity’. Lets look at many of the common tasks we do on a modern personal computer: virus scans (on a Windows PC), disk defragmentation (on a Windows PC), installing drivers, managing files, saving documents (pre OS X Lion and Windows PC), and changing display resolutions. Does all that sounds like a good use of your time? We accept these ‘problems’ because they have always been there. What would happen if we invented a computer today? What would it look like? I think it would look very similar to the iPad and its iOS operating system. With the release of iOS 5 in 2011, this becomes even further cemented. iOS 5 is one of the most simplistic operating systems in the world, but it’s also highly powerful. It hides the power and complexity behind an easy to use (and amazing) graphical user interface. My personal printer is ‘AirPrint’ compatible (what allows an iPad to printer natively to a printer). Do you know what I did to make it work with my iPad? Not a thing. I hit print and it found the printer. A mac is just a bit more complex (it downloads and installs the drivers automatically when you connect it). A PC requires a CD and takes about 15 minutes to install. The iPad also manages all of your files for you. Each individual application handles their own files with no management required by the user. You won’t see a ‘Save As’ button, either. It just handles it for you. Do you see the trend? Technology is getting more powerful, while becoming simpler and more personal.

How does this affect your child? Powerful technology is not enough. The technology needs to be invisible.  Students need to be able to focus on writing the research paper rather than worrying about saving their work. Students need to be able to find exactly what they need without reading though 15 websites.