Passive is Out!

Passive is Out!

Mobile Technology is for Kids

Everywhere I turn mobile technology is being discussed or written about in regards to kids and their usage. Often it is an article with an alarming message about how we are turning out kids into zombies, or some statistics about the exact data usage of our teens. Rarely do I hear about children driving the technology despite the maker movement. The shift to “making” represents the perfect time for a shift in our present model. We have new technology and need to expand future opportunities for our children, they need to have direct experiences with it and create on their own.

Hal Abelson in a recent interview by Warren Buckleitner at the MIT Sandbox Summit stated, “‘Mobile technology is for kids.’ I specifically said it that way because when we did LOGO, we’d say ‘Computers are for kids’.” Josh Sheldon talks of how he was programming back in the 1980’s in his own elementary school’s basement. The challenge today is that we need to give kids access to the tech and be on the other side of the screen. There is not the idea today that kids should be the one’s making the mobile computing, apps are the ideal venue for this younger generation. Apple makes it very difficult for any developer; IOS needs to open the ability for kids to distribute their own applications. Charging $100. a year and mandating within their terms and conditions that you must be 18 years old to be a certified developer is a disservice. The education realm is not embracing the child in the drivers seat doing the creating and has not latched on the concept that computing is not the future – it is now!

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In the above video, Hal Abelson and Josh Sheldon discuss the fact that children’s role in tech is not one of creation as the original computing pioneers thought it should be. A sad state of affairs that kids are not the makers or creators and are only on one side of the screen.

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One Response to Mobile Technology is for Kids

  1. Todd Cherner says:

    I agree that it is well within students’ ability levels to create apps, and there are some great apps for doing so such as Dapp Free ( I do think having an “18-year old” requirement to publish an app might be an artificial barrier.

    However, I do think there is a “consumer” vs. “producer” of technology theme here. Students are often consumers of technology, which includes viewing videos, reading articles, social media, etc. As teachers, we need to make the shift to having students produce/create technology as well. (There is nothing wrong with being an effective consumer, though.) Although not all our students are going to be app or software developers, it is well within their ability levels to create authentic and relevant digital artifacts (e.g., movies, webpages) using technology. That way, as students consume technology, they will also be producing some sort of artifact that displays what they learned from their consumption. Plus, teachers can differentiate instruction so students who have the capabilities and interest to create apps are allowed to do so. Then, if students are able to create an app that they want published, there is no reason a fundraiser coupled with parental/school support can overcome any barriers.

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