It’s not about the device…

There has been a big movement in the last months in educational technology that is based on this concept:

“It's not about the device, it is what you do with the device that matters.”

Interestingly, one of the bloggers I have used as a source in the past, Richard Wells, is changing his blog (and Twitter handle) from iPad4Schools to Eduwells.

I find myself on both sides of the movement. My blog, from the start, has been about technology in music education, and my first book (which I am going to begin updating), Practical Technology for Music Education, looks at technology in a larger sense in music education. While I am an “iPad Apologist” in music education, I have always seen my role as helping any teacher (music or otherwise) with technology, but doing so from a persepective of what has worked for me. I have also spent a small amount of money making sure that I have at least one of each “major” platform at my fingertips so I can research problems and questions from readers. The one exception is StaffPad, which really only works with the Surface 3 (or newer) or any Surface Pro–and I find myself unwilling to buy a $1100 device for a single program, particularly when there are other devices I need or want.

I suppose that a education technology expert that has “cornered” themselves as a “single device” expert might find themselves at a point where they want to be seen more than as “just” an “iPad Expert.” I think that is where Richard Wells is at–and that's okay. I would guess, however, that he still believes in the iPad.

This movement also shows the dominance of Chromebooks in education. Sure, iPads are still in schools, and they are still selling in schools. However, if you are considered an “iPad Expert,” is a school/district going to hire you to offer professional development if they are a Chromebook school? Nope.

All that said, I think it is ludicrious to move to the “the device doesn't matter” side of the line. Devices are NOT created equal, and cannot be used equally in all subjects. The problem lies in a combination of hardware and software inequalities between devices. Even the newest devices (e.g. Chromebook Flip) fail to solve all the problems. This is why BYOD is a false solution. Sure, you can write a paper on any device (although it would be incredibly frustrating to do so on a phone without an external keyboard), but can you do everything else you need to do?

While my goal remains to help teachers regardless of the technology in their room, whether Windows PC, SmartBoard, Promethean, Chromebook, iPad, or anything in between), I still strongly feel the iPad offers the best solutions for music education for the teacher or the student. While there are still some tasks that are best handled on my MacBook, I can travel and teach for a long period of time without having to use a MacBook. I understand that people who own the iPad Pro are experiencing even more freedom from their notebooks computers than I do with my iPad Air 2.

The problem, is, of coruse, that most technology initiatives fail to take what is best for music education into account. Other criteria take control, such as cost, ease of IT management, and the existence of a physical keyboard.

In closing on this Thanksgiving Day, let me express thanks to everyone who reads this blog, is subscribed to the blog, or gets the blog in their e-mail. And if you have bought one of my books, or used a referral link–thank you. Your support is appreciated.


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