A Digital Immigrant Strays Unwittingly Into the Future

“Ah, you see, you do things that way because of your generation. You just aren’t as flexible as today’s young people.”

I smiled and nodded. I was having a conversation with a couple of tech vendors about iPads for education. I did not exclude the possibility that they were right. At least about me. Their pitch was interesting: students no longer need laptops; the new iPad can do everything we need

“If you give students an iPad, they will do everything on it!” 

Wasn’t that true of pencil and paper at one point, too? Don’t we condition learners by the choices we make for them? 

Abruptly, the subject turned to jobs of the future and the need for creativity. I asked for a timeout. 

Yes, there will be jobs in the future and uncertainty calls for creative flexibility. 

As Gary Stager might say, “unless you’ve been to the future, shut up.” 

I’m a technology advocate. But I am first and foremost a learner advocate. 

Learning is platform agnostic, ecosystem-free, driven primarily by human interaction, fueled by curiosity and the imagination. This does not mean that tech can’t powerfully enhance this experience as long as our purpose is grounded in a clear, student-centred imperative. 

Is the iPad the right answer? Perhaps. But what is the question?

And what exactly is everything we need?

Photo courtesy of Joshua Earle on Unsplash