Joho the Blog » [2b2k] No more magic knowledge

[2b2k] No more magic knowledge

I gave a talk at the EdTechTeacher iPad Summit this morning, and felt compelled to throw in an Angry Old Man slide about why iPads annoy me, especially as education devices. Here’s my List of Grievances:

  • Apple censors apps

  • iPads are designed for consumers. [This is false for these educators, however. They are using iPad apps to enable creativity.]

  • They are closed systems and thus lock users in

  • Apps generally don’t link out

That last point was the one that meant the most in the context of the talk, since I was stressing the social obligation we all have to add to the Commons of ideas, data, knowledge, arguments, discussion, etc.

I was sorry I brought the whole thing up, though. None of the points I raised is new, and this particular audience is using iPads in creative ways, to engage students, to let them explore in depth, to create, and to make learning mobile.

Nevertheless, as I was talking, I threw in one more: you can’t View Source the way you can in a browser. That is, browsers let you see the code beneath the surface. This capability means you can learn how to re-create what you like on pages you visit…although that’s true only to some extent these days. Nevertheless, the HTML code is right there for you. But not with apps.

Even though very few of us ever do peek beneath the hood — why would we? — the fact that we know there’s an openable hood changes things. It tells us that what we see on screen, no matter how slick, is the product of human hands. And that is the first lesson I’d like students to learn about knowledge: it often looks like something that’s handed to us finished and perfect, but it’s always something that we built together. And it’s all the cooler because of that.

There is no magic, just us humans as we move through history trying to make every mistake possible.

2 Responses to “[2b2k] No more magic knowledge”

  1. I wouldn’t be sorry for questioning anything Apple… especially with educators whom I suspect care more about the class status symbolism of having glowing Apple logos branded on everything and everybody in their schools.

    IMHO, Apple is a reactionary force in every possible way.

    BTW, the word “perfect” is key in this discussion. Apple teaches a whole generation to identify with “perfect” in its lowest possible interpretation – small, shiny, rounded objects (aka kitsch)… that you can keep close to your heart at all times like talismans… that you command through simple “magic” gestures… that glow in the dark… Medieval to the core…

    I apologize for not being thoughtful and for not proving my case in any way.

  2. You can view source of a webpage on an iPad. It isn’t as easy as on a traditional machine but it is possible: http://ole.michelsen.dk/blog/view-source-on-the-ipad-and-iphone/

    Bookmarklets are very useful on the iPad. I used them during the EdTechTeacher iPad Summit pre-conference to turn web pages into eBooks!

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