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:: Tech, Not Toys

My well meaning Mother-in-law clipped a story out of her local paper and mailed it to me. It was a local story about how some local schools are giving their students iPads to foster a “technology boost”.

i’m doing my best not to start swearing like a sailor right now.

This is like trying to teach kids how to repair cars by getting them snap-tite models.

Yes, the iPad is nifty and intuitive and makes the web more portable than it’s been in a while. There are professionals that have started using them as a replacement for laptops for taking notes, doing presentations and writing documents. While very expensive, some colleges have moved their texts to eBooks meaning that students don’t have to worry about forgetting their tomes.

But as an actual tool for learning technology, it’s a piece of crap. There’s no native editor that lets you build web pages. There’s no way to examine and alter source of a live page. There’s no local compiler so you can build and play with programming. You lose half your screen real-estate to the friggin “keyboard”.

Tossing iPads at kids and hoping that they learn something more than ballistic trajectory patterns of cartoon fowl just points out how clueless you are about how to use technology.

You want to give your kids an edge in technology? Let them break stuff. Give them tools that let them see computers aren’t magical sealed boxes they’re not to play with, but bundles of commands and handles that will do their bidding provided you ask them correctly. Point them at Hackasaurus.org and let them dismantle and web page and learn javascript. Teach them python and Java. Give them Virtual Machines they can play with. Show them data stores like Cassandra and MySQL and let them see how they’re both great and crap depending on how you use them.

Want your kids to be tech smart? Get them hacking. Get them excited about technology. Let them teach other kids so that the lessons really sink in.

Anything else, and you’re basically buying your kids slot car racers and hoping that they’ll win the Indy 500.

Blogs of note
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