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The intersection of education and technology

Yesterday’s Apple announcement probably won’t cause massive ripples in Higher Education. The reason I know this is that I currently have a job. If universities didn’t already know that technology has a key place in the future of education I wouldn’t be writing this blog post. What it will do instead is present a challenge for universities, but interestingly the solution isn’t necessary through Apple.

In a nutshell, Apple’s plan to bring education out of the dark ages is to make sure that everyone can learn in the most engaging and up-to-date way, wherever they are and at anytime. Three new apps were introduced, adding to the 20,000 education apps that already exist: iBooks 2, iBooks Author and iTunes U. The first two let teachers write impressive and interactive (maybe even fun?) textbooks for iPads and students use these for reading, highlighting, revising, testing – all elements of learning. This is Apple “reinventing the textbook” and making them more portable, durable, interactive, searchable and current than traditional books.

iTunes U has now graduated from being a part of iTunes to its own app. I already use this to watch lectures from participating universities in any and every subject. This update now makes iTunes U the place to do everything you need as a student, down to signing up for modules and finding out your lecturers office hours. The most interesting part of this announcement is that teachers can push information to students – this can be assignments, reading, notes – and this allows a much greater engagement between teacher and student. The Open University is already signed on. Will other universities follow?

They don’t need to. Apple say they are making it “easy to be a good student”. One catch – you need an iPad. Actually, everyone needs an iPad. For this to work every every student and teacher in a school or university needs an iPad – if one person doesn’t have one, the whole scheme fails because the textbooks need to be exclusive to Apple. But no education discount or schemes were announced; in fact, iPads were described as affordable. The whole keynote felt like a long iPad advert, but it is unfair to assume that every student can afford the latest Apple technology. So, what can universities do? They can help everyone in education to buy an iPad (either in full or subsidised) and ensure teachers are fully utilising the possibilities, but they should not run headlong into this so soon, particularly as nothing today related to research or academic writing.

Nevertheless, the challenge is there. Apple is now offering a one-stop-shop for education in the technological world; will universities create their own alternatives or buy-in to Apple’s vision for the future of education?

1 comment to The intersection of education and technology

  • Technology is really everywhere, intersecting not just technology but also industries. That is why, the intersection of technology and education is no wonder shocking. Making use of iPad in classes is absolutely good but has a negative impact just as you said, the whole class will fail, once 1 of them doesn’t have that gadget.

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