Let’s Do The Rollout (Again)!

Luke Skywalker got such a good deal on Droids and Power Converters in Episode IV...

Luke Skywalker got such a good deal on Droids and Power Converters in Episode IV…

I drew this before the big breaking news. By the big breaking news, I mean this, and this. In that light, it is a good thing that to my knowledge the iPads for our school are already paid for, provisioned, and delivered to campus, since any further progress on that front seems to have ground to a halt.

This does not mean that the “rollout” will go off without a hitch. I am hoping that things will go as well as possible, and have prepared at least as well as is reasonable to expect. I still don’t have the code to open the lock on my charging cart, which I will need by the end of the day tomorrow. Talking adults through setting up and Apple ID and personalizing their iPads is trouble enough, talking about twenty five adolescents through it is even more so. I remember the process being arduous and repetitive last year…but thankfully, only needing to occur the one time. In theory, the same phenomenon will happen tomorrow.

With this, however, I have learned to expect the unexpected. The thing that I am actually most troubled by is the way that once distributed, the iPads begin to dominate instructional conversations. In truth, the iPad is an excellent media display device, and for some specific projects, I was able to deploy them with some reasonable utility. They are not, however, devices intended for high end computing productivity, which is why there is still very serious sale of items like laptops and netbooks. For getting the business of academia and actual work done…the keyboard driven, MS Office equipped computer is still the main force of productivity.

I don’t make those decisions, however, so iPads are what we have. The goal that I have is to find ways to make use of them productively in class when appropriate. Honestly, to me this is simply in the library available at Project Gutenberg. As an English teacher, having access to over 47,000 free books, on demand, is kind of a BIG deal.

Some teachers however, become slavishly connected to the devices, attempting to utilize them in their classes for all things. I think this is a poor paradigm of operation, since not all of life’s problems are at the iPad app level of solution. There are literally dozens of educational apps of various qualities, but a big part of the goal of teachers is to create an independent cognitive inquiry among students. Giving another on demand item for on demand information creates a kind of laziness of thought and research, a failure in critical thinking skills, if taken too far.

Still…with a Federal investigation happening, money already spent, and standardized tests in the electronic format (and counting) this year, we are certainly chained to the iPads for some time to come, for better or for worse.

I find it hard to believe that anyone is surprised at the Federal investigation. That writing was on the proverbial Facebook Wall some time ago, in rather a large font. I like the mental image of Mulder and Scully flashing their badges and leading some sort of sting operation, a raid on accounting documents at the Beaudry Building. Certainly the case seems odd enough to be on the X-Files…

…actually, I speak too soon. I recently watched an episode of this season’s “Person of Interest,” where an amoral artificial intelligence called Samaritan manipulates a philanthropist into setting up every elementary school child in New York to get a free tablet. The billionaire is idealistic, but the machine only seeks to get a camera laden tablet, with its own “eyes’ into every single household it can, and thus, must be stopped.

LAUSD didn’t have that diabolical a plan, of course. In fact, I think the idea was idealistic as well, just poorly researched and even more poorly executed. Tomorrow, if all goes well, I will be issuing my students the fruits of that plan.

Next Issue: Contra: Evolution, Ronald Reagan, and more Hoofpool!

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