In a shift from laptops to iPads, for more mobility, easier use, fewer maintenance issues and lower cost, all our students now bring their own devices. I know it’s a luxury and I am always conscious of how students in less fortunate contexts could benefit from a small fraction of the resources we have at our fingertips.
The Year 5 children tell Sugata they are currently learning about energy. He throws them the inevitable ‘big question’, his signature approach to self organised learning. ‘I’ll give you 20 minutes to find out what you can, in any way you like, about dynamic equilibrium.’
Due to limited space on the whiteboard, the two words appear one below the other and some children ask whether it’s a phrase. He gives his standard response ‘I have no idea’… encouraging students to figure things out for themselves.
Interestingly, the children initially stay in their own seats and investigate on their individual devices. No-one has told them not to move or converse. In fact Sugata spent some time before the question chatting with them about how often and why they move seats.
There is so little talk or collaboration at first that we wonder if they are inhibited by the group of teachers observing in the room or the presence of the eminent stranger.
Eventually, with a bit of encouragement, they begin to move around and interact, the noise level goes up and the learning is closer to what Sugata calls the ‘edge of chaos‘ as they share their discoveries and develop their understanding collaboratively.
‘There are too many iPads,‘ Sugata says.
‘Limiting the number of devices ensures that the children move naturally into groups to share and discuss their findings and questions.’
We hadn’t really considered the possibility that 1:1 access could be a disadvantage in some learning situations…