Rethinking Education Pt.17: Laptops with Built-in Classrooms

Over recent years much effort in area of primary and professional education was directed at equipping classrooms with newest technologies: new laptops, networks, software. There were also efforts to equip classrooms with teachers who have necessary skill to operate effectively in new environments, and much more attention should be paid to these efforts. Because through the process of tech-based transformation very important cues of learning could be understood.

And first example is the importance of personal space. Some time ago I have written about laptops as personal spaces. Continuing that thoughts I can say the fact that laptop is a personal space becomes important in the light of difficulties teachers face in new environments. You can find details in google or reading articles

Beyond technical difficulties such as lack of physical space, risk of damaging expensive laptops, furniture issues etc. we will notice somewhat unexpected at first glance effects as social isolation. I believe the reasons here are rather pedagogical than technological. That is because current practices are largely an attempt to fuse traditional educational methods that imply certain degree of impersonalization with new tech that contradicts it. Furthermore, if teaching is aimed only at transmission of information from teacher to student, things like laptops or iPhones would interfere. And it is understandable that traditional pedagogy looks at technology only in instrumental sense. Many articles arguing statement “technology is just a tool” for education could be cited here (just google that), somewhat interesting debates are at idebate.org.

I don’t want to dig into this question now, because in many respects it is a question of definitions: tool, technology, education and so on. More interesting for me is the fact that introduction of technologies reveals important aspects of education, aspects that remained in the shade. I’ll talk about impersonalization.

Impersonalization that was all over the world for long years had engendered its opposite: the passion to personalize everything – to achieve self-actualization wherever it is possible: in music, clothing, food, hair, furniture, cars, tattoos, religion, fitness, open source operating systems, pets, biographies and on and on. Doesn’t it sound naturally that we will have a desire to be educated in a special (extraordinary) way?

I think we will see some kind of customizable digital teachers quite soon. And actually not only teachers will be under personalization, classroom will be too. We will have laptops will classrooms built-in. Why shouldn’t we? This world around is already pushing and squeezing and wrinkling and draining us in any case – why should we bear it in classroom?

It is easy – just tune some knobs – choose the color of walls you like, choose the classmates you wish to communicate with, choose the teacher to instruct you, choose the right time to learn, choose, arrange, make decisions. Getting yourself in the right mood is very important.

But will it improve the quality of education? Possibly yes, for some of us. But in general I don’t think we should rely on technology till there are people involved in education.

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