Apples push into the education sector has hit the headlines again as Metro has written a rather glowing account of their education tech designed to bolster creativity and coding skills with free classroom apps and a 9.7inch iPad designed for school pupils. It seems Apple is aiming to make the iPad as essential as the calculator once was in schools.
Apple has combined these Everyone Can Code and Everyone Can Create iPad focused curriculum apps with a classroom app that allows teachers to keep an eye on their students iPad use and track them effectively whilst providing feedback and guidance.
Simon Pile, the Assistant Head teacher at Anson Primary School in London explained ‘iPad allows me to create a curriculum that is engaging and relevant, to give every student a voice…It gives students the opportunity to have a personalised learning journey that is packed with creative opportunities.’
Remember this? It was essential until the calculator came along.
Now apples push into education could be seen as a cynical attempt to get our children hooked on iPad tech from an early age – almost positioning the iPad as an essential learning aid. Their efforts to romance schools isn't without its critics however Apple claims their motivations are entirely altruistic and not at all focused on reaping a return on investment by turning our children into future brand consumers by exposing them to Apple tech as early as possible.
Here at IWASD we would suggest that children are already hooked on technology and amidst the NHS guidelines that screen time should be reduced its hard to see a case for implementing more tech and screen time into the children’s school day however at the same time we actively encourage schools who seek to find new creative ways to get their pupils using real world experiences and getting off the bums and away from their desks to learn lessons.
It seems nobody has asked the question of apple as to whether they believe they are compacting the problems associated with greater screen time in our children. For example we recently reported that excessive screen time is now linked to 12 deadly cancers in children. So whilst the short term desire to have our kids embrace tablets to get out and about might in fact have a detrimental effect on them culturally if they grow up plugged into the matrix one has to wonder how will they ever leave it?
Amid a landscape where childhood obesity is soaring and MacDonald's being delivered to schools in the UK, instead of sycophantic articles sucking up to multi billion pound brands heralding their tech as having a positive influence on our children's development without regard for reporting on any downside instead it would be nice to for once acknowledge that we live in a world where our teachers can come up with methods for students to get interested and get active without the aid of a screen based devices luring them to do it. They've been doing this for years. Apple didn't invent going outside.
Lets make time to promote our teachers who aren't using tech as a crutch and who's own creativity and diversity of their lesson planning lets them come up with a reason to get outside other than an app. Lets's promote physical literacy alongside technological literacy and importantly lets start listening to the expert advice to reduce screen time for our children instead of embedding it into our children's daily lives so inextricably as building it into the curriculum.
Apples push into schools makes our children early adopters exposed to the Apple brand and be more likely to become future consumers. Apple want the language of computing to have iPads in the scope and it's not beyond this writers imagination that their education programs are designed to familiarise the next generation with their tech for cynical reasons. Whilst their big brand sway has media outlets clamouring to flatter them in the process it's hard to see how they will fail. Brands are the new idols and bloggers are the new evangelists so just keep an eye open for objectivity amongst the sea of honeyed words.
The traditional image of school classrooms with identical desk seating in rows is fast becoming obsolete in favour of a bold new choice of classroom design. One that encourages choice and ownership of the space for students. We are talking about the growing trend that is flexible seating.
As part of a district wide classroom redesign in Kansas, Tescott Elementary have joined a number of other schools in the USA who are empowering students by introducing flexible seating options for its students.
So what is flexible seating? A growing concept of creating learning spaces wherein children take turns going first picking their preferred seating in the classroom, children select from a list of possibilities from traditional seats, wobble stools, floor mats, standing desks, crate seats, metal chairs, rocking chairs and various other teacher selected options all reflecting the character of individual class types and teacher preferences. The options encourage a relaxed mind-set and ensure students vary their physical positions throughout the day in the hope to benefit their productivity and learning.
"Flexible seating is an opportunity for students to select their best learning seat within the classroom,” said Abell, who has been teaching for 13 years. “In my classroom, they select a seat first thing in the morning according to our seating line up (number order). That way, each student gets an opportunity to be the first to pick first at least once a week.”
Rachel Ehlers, first grade teacher at Tescott Elementary said "We felt the students would work better if they were allowed to work not only at their own pace, but also in their own comfortable positions."
The school principle Steven Kimmi explained that the move to flexible seating isn’t just designed to make school more fun but to ensure they provide the best possible learning space tailored to each individual student.
“Flexible seating was designed to give students choice, physical health, comfort, collaboration, and commitment to learn,” she said. “Flexible seating allows students to choose their best learning space for the day and allow them comfort to collaborate with others if needed to have the best learning experience in our school.”
Feedback from parents and teachers have been incredibly positive, one parent commenting that the space felt like home and Abell points out the students are demonstrating greater focus and pride as they are being given the extra autonomy to decide their own seating for the day.
Eiger Student Standing desks can be integrated into flexible seating designs in schools. Eiger and iwantastandingdesk.com currently work with numerous UK schools to ensure their individual spaces are made to suit the individual needs of the students. You can request a standing desk trail for your school here.