An article in the Financial Times called “Google overtakes Apple in the US classroom” provides some interesting facts and figures about the way technology is increasingly being used in American schools. According to IDC, the market research, analysis and advisory firm specializing in information technology and telecommunications, during the third quarter of this year, Google sold 715,000 Chromebooks in the education sector, against 702,000 iPads. This is the first quarter in which Google has beaten Apple in this market.
The figures, which have been greeted with caution given the percentage they suppose in a market like US education, nevertheless clearly reflect a growing trend in the use of technology in the classroom. The debate in US education circles is now about which are the best electronic devices for helping students to learn. Some tablets are seen essential as a way to access content, basically ebooks and websites, while Chromebooks, the most basic versions of which can be bought for around two hundred dollars, are seen as a more complete solution, the need for which is more obvious as pupils grow up, facilitating a two-way relationship that tends to become more creative.
Meanwhile, in Spain, we are spending our time passing laws to forbid smartphones in the classroom so as to prevent conflict between teachers and students. Rather than trying to find a place for a device like a smartphone within the educational process, integrating it as the universal computing device it is, we prefer to exclude it, converting education into a hostile environment where children are forced to learn in outdated ways. In a society that is now fully connected, the Spanish classroom remains a place cut off from the rest of the world.
While other countries are looking at how to modify education to help children make the most of the technological age they have been born into by providing classrooms with tablets and laptops to be used as learning tools, at the same time as changing the rules so as to be able to integrate technology into the curriculum, in Spain, all we can do is ban devices, as we are seemingly unable or unwilling to think how technology can be incorporated to our children’s advantage. But then it’s always been easier to ban something rather than to think about it.
(En español, aquí)