Technology for learning at school

I'm developing a passion for helping kids discover and develop their skill (and first, love) for technology, and as I can't find excellent resources online about this (I'm sure these exist, but I can't find it yet! Let me know if you do know of some...), I decided to start to capture some of my thinking around this.

Caveats: I'm a Google employee, and biased towards our technology. I truly think it's great, and will shamelessly promote it. (But, other than being a shareholder and employee, I'm not compensated on any of the things I'm talking about here.) Also - I have no

First up:

What should be taught?

I think the most critical thing to teach kids, is how to use technology creatively (rather than just consuming via technology). More music making, than music listening. More poetry writing than just reading. And for the science/maths orientated kids, how to *create* computers, how to code.

One key and interesting hurdle is that technology is evolving so fast, that teachers typically did not have the opportunity to grow up with the modern technology that we have today, so it's tough for a typical teacher to lead and inspire with new ways of effectively creating on modern tech, as they (we) did not grow up with tablets (or what ever).

Which technology platform to choose for a school?

I don't think this matters much. Of course I'd like to promote my employer's tech (previously Microsoft, now Google), but I don't think it matters much. Why? The very first iPad was sold 3rd April 2010... less than 4 years ago. So, the next big way of consuming technology in 4 years time is probably not yet on sale. The specific technology we choose to teach kids on now, would not be what they would use when they go to uni. So, teaching principles and techniques, is better than how to operate this version of application x or a specific operating system.

None of the products on the market is a brilliant fit for schools now either. They are mostly challenging to manage effectively, and educational content is also not well curated for schools yet. I am convinced all of this will dramatically change in the next few years, so I won't advocate choosing a platform on this basis either. (But I would at least stay with at least the most prominent platforms now... Android, Windows and Mac, which is most likely to develop better tools in the short term.)

Which devices or form factors?

With wearable computing and the internet of things coming around, I don't think this matters too much either. This will dramatically change soon, but three obvious categories stand out to me:
  • For the very young ones: Robots like the beebot is good (but expensive!) imho.
  • For young ones who are more tactile, I think touch screen (tablets) are the obvious route
  • For older kids (who should learn to program), they'd need a proper keyboard and screen (e.g. as found on a Chromebook).
For a primary school nearby, we just bough 10x Nexus 10 tablets.
And for a year 5 group, we're doing Scratch on Chromebooks.

If you have any comment and want to contribute, let me know!


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