Our Gadgets Own Us

I’ve got too many gadgets. But I find that I need one more. I want a laptop again.

I miss laptops. While the iPhone and iPad provide mobility and the sexy design that makes want one (until we find out the human cost behind them and probably ALL of our gadgets), they’re awfully hard to write much beyond a tweet on.

The students in my school district all got tablets to use this year. They were so excited initially. At Computers4Kids we were concerned that the students wouldn’t come to us anymore because they had this gadget and wouldn’t need the computer access that we’d always provided them. But they still come. The promised keyboards haven’t materialized, and even if they had, would you want to write and edit a 3-4 page paper on a tablet screen?

Both me and the kids love to watch movies on the tablet– it’s great and portable, but I’d rather write an email on an iPhone and I’d rather write a paper on a desktop or laptop.


2 responses to “Our Gadgets Own Us

  1. I totally agree…I can’t type on the iPad to save my life, and I don’t want to haul around an auxiliary keyboard along with everything else. But I have found that my iPad lets me leave the laptop at school most nights, meaning I don’t cave in to the pressure to write long e-mail replies in the evenings. (On the other hand, it’s pretty easy to get sucked into poking around on the internet with the iPad in my lap, so maybe it’s a trade-off.) Also will say that as a photography teacher, I initially found the iPad relatively useless other than as a screening device, but have now started using one of the many pretty good new editing program (I use Snapseed) and find this to be much more fun than serious editing–a nice way to play with images and something of an antidote to the flawless perfection of high-end digital editing. My 17-year-old son writes a lot of shorter papers on his iPad but still uses the laptop for serious writing. The iPad/iPhone haven’t replaced laptops for us, not by a long shot, but they’re a nice alternative for day-to-day use and for quick demonstrations in class.

  2. But then it comes back to an equity thing again. The schools decided to go with the tablets, but the tablets don’t provide the same opportunities for writing that laptops do. This doesn’t matter if you’re over-gadgeted like me, but it puts the kids who don’t have a desktop or laptop at home (or parents who know how to use them) at a real disadvantage against the more affluent kids for whom a tablet is just another piece of electronica in their house.

    I’m such a traditionalist. I really want kids to be able to write well. As educators we get so distracted by self-expression in shiny media. But don’t you think that anybody who wants to be a photographer-for-hire has to be able to express themselves verbally– writing a college app to get in, communicating with clients, reading contracts, blogging, writing scripts for youtube.

    Also Jan-Man, doesn’t it give you a chuckle to contrast me stomping about the photoroom with this grumpy-teacher-type I am today. Thank YOU for helping me get through high school.

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