Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Platform neutrality

Wednesday I attended a Freaked Out training session delivered by Simon Pridham. It was an enjoyable hands-on session ostensibly revolving around the meaningful use of iPads in a classroom.
I'll make a more detailed report on the apps we used on another post, but I just wanted to share a thought that occurred to me.

As of the time of writing, our educational standardisation and qualification systems primarily revolve around the teaching of the Microsoft Office suite. After all, it's what's used in the real world isn't it?

Now the paradigm has shifted (not that you'd know it from the glacial pace of change of the Welsh Government). The iPad is the de facto system used from an early age, and there is increasing pressure for us to teach towards the iPad. After all, it's what's used in the real world, isn't it?

Headteachers are throwing massive amounts of money at Apple, oftentimes without there being any solid strategy to support this decision. This half-baked 'me-too'ism is potentially costly and can add to the burden of already overstretched teachers.

However, what concerns me is where this is leading. There is a real danger that we are allowing recidivism into our classrooms. Being so narrowly focused on one system to the virtual exclusion of all others didn't get us very far in the past, yet I wonder if we aren't hell-bent on repeating that very mistake with the lionization of the iPad. The use of a PC has become somewhat passé. Learners are becoming, in my own experience at least, less confident with the use of a mouse and keyboard. The widespread use of the iPads in primary schools has just substituted one transferable skill for another, and hasn't actually improved the level of skills in our learners.

We need to be more measured in how we spend our time and money; for us to be less hardware orientated and more platform neutral. Keep one eye on the future and another on the present.


  1. Hi Alan, really important point I think to be platform neutral - you may enjoy this post if you haven't already seen it -