August 20, 2013
Despite (or perhaps because of) the sales push, many educators are still skeptical of tablets in the classroom—and Amplify seems designed to put them at ease. Its operating system gives teachers and schools an unprecedented level of control over the devices in students’ hands. There is no home button, for example: Students can’t just exit out of a math program the way they can close Angry Birds on an iPad. Instead, if a teacher hits her “eyes on teacher” button, any or every student’s tablet in her classroom suspends; a message tells the student to look up. Or the teacher can call on a student randomly, and a message pops up on her screen. Or with just one click, a teacher can pose a multiple-choice pop quiz and see instant results, set a five-minute timer for an activity, or divide students into discussion groups. Or she can automatically give individualized homework assignments based on the day’s performance.
-Anya Kamenetz, “News Corp. Introduces A New Kind Of Interactivity To The Classroom”
I was reading a print copy of this month’s Fast Company (not my subscription, mind you)—which solicited this tweet—and came across an article entitled, “News Corp.’s Big Test”. For whatever reason, the online version has a different name, but the sentiment of the above blockquote is the same: the future of the classroom is awesome!
At a previous job, I did a lot of work with online educational software—Blackboard, Angel, and Moodle, in particular—and I was often dealing with the cutting edges of what such software could do at the time; it is amazing to me that the iPad had only just begun to make an impact on the classroom at that time. Looking into the future, I can see a real boon to teacher productivity and effectiveness due to tablet hardware and software technology movements. Being that my wife is a teacher, such improvements sound great to me.
In addition, my mother has been heavily involved in the movement for inclusion of special education students into general education classrooms in Chicago Public Schools; the above quote smacks of the future of inclusion in ways that my mother could only dream of a few years ago. Being able to cater curriculums to specific children to insure that those who are gifted in a subject are properly challenged and those that need help are similarly accommodated is a future in which I want to live.