Give It To Me


Receiving a present or a gift (be it a donut, a tablet computer or whatever..) is a moment of joy and excitement. Not so in education. Receiving something (be it a new book, a new course… ) does not come unconditional and unrestricted. There is always a twist. The giver (mostly the teacher or the ‘program’) wants you to do or achieve something with it. The gift is not yours. To be more precise, look at the numerous initiatives of ‘giving away’ tablet computers or cell phones to students, often already at early stages of schooling (1). The idea behind it is that children will grasp the benefits of the Internet World to the full. And they will, often quicker and more skillful than their educators can foresee (2). But the gift is a mixed blessing; it comes with all kinds of limitations of use and often as a stripped version. Kids will immediately notice it is not the full monty.
This is not to question the benefits of wide spread dissemination of information technology tools in education. It is the widespread educational urge of limiting an unreserved use of the tools (for all kinds of reasons and motives). The cited study (below) dived into what children think and say about their use of cell phones that were distributed to them for educational purposes. It turns out that, first of all, the kids were not at all pleased with the gift, once discovering its potentials, but were disappointed actually. Also, the expected use of the tool turned out to be highly overrated by educator since children gradually confined to what was asked of them. A generative and learning intensifying deployment was not achieved. Even frustration occurred in that students thought teachers would invade their privacy.

A great idea turning into a mischance. Education is not unfamiliar with crashed implementations of great ideas; and, certainly, there have been well thought over explanations for this. But still it remains striking to see how students will evaluate the opportunity offered to them as authentic or not; and based on that may simply dissolve an educational intention. It is more than having a better Information ”teach”nology . It is about ownership of learning, meaning “it is not you but me that is taking the gift”.

Schooling Mobile Phones: Assumptions About Proximal Benefits, the Challenges of Shifting Meanings, and the Politics of Teaching by Thomas M. Philip and Antero Garcia
Educational Policy 2015, Vol. 29(4) 676–707 ; DOI: 10.1177/0895904813518105




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