When tablets and schools don’t mix

In education, beware the technology Dumbo Drop. For anyone who’s been around edtech for any time at all, that’s so obvious it’s become a cliche. But apparently it’s advice some school districts are ignoring because they seem to have been blinded by the bright shiny face of cool consumer devices.

Over at GeekWire, I explore and explain tablet troubles experienced at several districts so far this school year, including the high-profile, botched billion-dollar iPad adoption in Los Angeles schools (from which, I hope, it may still recover — I still strongly support intelligent use of technology in education, but as much or more attention needs to be paid to the implementation process as to the initial purchase).


We’ve seen this silicon-silver-bullet mentality before, with everything from interactive white boards to early desktop computers (not to mention classroom television sets). But LA, especially, should know better. It went through another expensive tech Dumbo Drop roughly a decade ago with early reading software and computers on which to run it. That software wasn’t used properly or enough, and hardware broke and wasn’t repaired — assuming it made it out of shrink wrap at all.

Today, companies that want a piece of the school tablet business, such as Microsoft, should view what’s happening in these schools as a cautionary tale. Never hurts to know what to advise school districts not to do, or to expect.

Read, “Tech happens: When tablets and schools don’t mix,” over at GeekWire. And be sure to scan the lively and informative comments, including pointers to other good analyses from other angles (I personally liked Audrey Watters’ in the Atlantic).

2 thoughts on “When tablets and schools don’t mix”

  1. Frank,

    I am finding that educators are jumping to the “iPad strategy” and addressing policy, strategy, and tactical management as an afterthought. Looking forward to reading your blog.


  2. I agree. The focus in some cases seems to be on the device first, when it should be on the desired outcome first, which the device supports and enables (and it may, coincidentally, also enable many new things, too). There has to be some kind of a holistic view of how it all fits together at the start.

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