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16 Feb
2015

iPad manufacturer, Apple, claims to have “revolutionised” education since it has made a “deal” with textbook providers the world over. Brave words, if you take on an industry that is notorious for being resistant to change. And, if it does make up its mind to change, will only do so in small steps. It is doubtful whether Apple’s model of monetising every free bit and byte in cyberworld will succeed in academia. In fact this is what it claims on its South African version of its website, obviously aimed at the education market.

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Before I receive a lawyers’ notification from Apple Inc, their claims are, simply amazing. Undoubtedly, it’s backed up by “years of market(ing) research” but the transformative power of technology on our thinking processes has yet to be rigorously debated. Admittedly, there is a “we believe” in the first sentence which makes it clear (or not) that this is an opinion, not a fact. Furthermore, the claim goes, “it can pave new ways of thinking”; “New ways of sparking ideas”.

However, as an educator who has been around since the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64, such claims have yet to be proven. Great advances in computer technology have made an impact on how we access, manage and use information, but its impact on teaching and learning is still a hotly debated issue. Using technology as a tool to facilitate, and perhaps augment teaching and learning processes is not to be ignored by any society in the new “globalised” and “networked” society. But to claim it “revolutionises” education is somewhat of a stretch. The clincher, however, is that “…working alongside educators and students to reinvent what it means to teach and learn”. Show such a statement to a serious educator and you’ll get responses such as “really?”, “how?” and “when?”. In fact it remains to be seen whether teaching and learning was “invented” in the first place.

But, here’s my main concern….

“The real danger is not that computers will begin to think like men, but that men will begin to think like computers.” Sydney J. Harris

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