Weeping iBalls *

It’s been a fairly quiet week in terms of rant-worthy media reporting of political nonsense about education.

However there was this item that caught my i:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/8483615.stm

Beyond the fact that there are some of us who were discussing the potential problem of the digital divide 20 years ago, it seems that some students are now using home computers for learning more than they use computers at school.

“Computers are no longer a luxury for the few, but are as essential a part of education as books, pens and paper.” says Ed Balls, a statement not lost on Microsoft’s on-the-spot spokesperson eagerly anticipating the procurement of new truckloads of over-powered and over-priced beige lined Windoze PC boxes to meet the demands of the £300m Home Access scheme.

Oddly both Mr Balls and Mr Microsoft somehow seemed to have missed the announcement of the iPad last week, or more accurately I suspect, have failed to grasp the educational possibilities of the device. Rather than investing in more desktops, laptops and netbooks, a more forward looking policy might be to kick-start the next phase of computing technology in which every child upgrades their mobile phone for a smart phone or iPad-type device.

Meanwhile, talking of the iPad, of all the recent reviews, it was Charlie Brooker’s that contained the most perceptive insights:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/feb/01/ipad-therefore-iwant-why-idunno

“it looks ideal for idly browsing the web while watching telly. And I suspect that’s what it’ll largely be used for. Millions of people watch TV while checking their emails: it’s a perfect match for them.”

Or, of course, for multi-tasking school-children, bringing new meaning to the concept of doing one’s homework at the same time as watching TV.


* Weeping Eyeballs was the name of a band I played with in the early 1970s. But that’s another story.

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