Here’s an interesting blog post about a private school’s plan to rollout an iPad 2 for each high school student.

The post is incomplete. It doesn’t mention any of the large-scale system problems they will surely encounter, such as:

  • the fact that students will lose their iPads.
  • They will sell them.
  • They will forget them.
  • They will break them.
  • They will load them up with games, music, movies and content that may or may not be ‘educational’ or age appropriate.
  • They will put Netflix on the iPad and have their favorite DeGrassi or Glee episodes at a fingertip’s beck and call.
  • They will record the teacher’s rants and post it on YouTube before the recess bell even sounds.

There is often so much more impact when implementing a new technology if stakeholders have a fully-baked understanding of what it means and how it will make a difference. I remember years ago, when schools were first deploying PCs in classrooms, most of the machines sat in the back of the room, unplugged and rarely used until they were ultimately rendered hopelessly obsolete. Billions of dollars later, there is now a PC on every desk, a laptop in every home and hardly a dent on the productivity or effective adoption scale.

In the case of PCs, the planners forgot to consider that the supervision and technical skill to maintain the effort was far beyond the skills of the teacher or the IT staff of the school (ie, they have these only recently). I don’t know the whole story here, and the blog post doesn’t elaborate, but have they really thought this one through?

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