Money is there to claim from The Pepsi Refresh Project which will award more than $20 million this year, imploring applicants to “Look around your community and think about how you want to change it.” Naturally I was drawn to the category “education” and honed in on a story in the Journal News about a middle school teacher in Hamilton Ohio who has submitted his proposal to change the face of classroom education with 44 iPads—one at every desk.
Mr. Wilson may not be the first to feel this way about a classroom technology, but like the foot soldier on the front lines, he sees with a simple clarity that in itself is truly “refreshing.” Mr. Wilson says “We wouldn’t need textbooks. It would essentially turn the classroom interactive. If I ask a question, then everyone could respond on the iPad and their answers would appear immediately on my desktop. It would make sure it wasn’t just the smart kids that are answering questions in class, but also those who are shy or just not engaged.”
“This grant would allow us to use the technology that the students actually use, the kind of stuff we take away from them when they walk in the door,” he said. “When we do that, it dumbs them down, takes away their creativity.”
There are those who will smirk at this and claim that such a proposal is not worthy compared to those far more philanthropic in their goals like backpacks for needy schoolchildren or allowing low income adults a second chance at taking the GED. The fact is that Mr. Wilson's goals should be shared by every educator--to have a class of students fully engaged in the lesson at hand. The ripple effect of this change could boggle the mind.
I do hope Mr. Wilson will consider writing an addendum to his proposal asking also for the funds to train 44 teachers--one for every iPod awarded. Technology, whether in the form of interactive projectors, electronic whiteboards, 3D projectors,iPads,iPods, cellphones or anything else is worthless unless an instructor has the aptitude and ability to engage the students through the creative incorporation of that technology in the class curriculum.