Steven Levy presents some good points in his September 27th article for Wired, “Kindles in the Tabletized World,” but I’m not buying the Amazon thinking. Jeff Bezos is right, of course using an iPad with hundreds of apps just a click away IS naturally distracting when it comes to reading books. Yes, the lighter and thinner Kindle IS (at present) far easier to hold for hours when immersed in a digital book than an iPad. Yes, the $140 price-point of the wifi-only Kindle today is wonderful beside the $500 entry iPad, but the function differences are stark. If I was buying an ebook reader for my wife today, there is no question we’d buy an iPad instead of a Kindle. (We bought her Kindle before the iPad was released.)

Single use devices, or more “limited use devices” will maintain some appeal with some edtech evangelists because of the perceived need to over-control student attention options in the classroom. Banning cell phones now? Going to maintain that policy when a majority of your students have cell phones with today’s smartphone capabilities in a few short years? Going to issue student blinders and handcuffs with your textbooks next year too?

The advent of increasingly ubiquitous mobile technologies, including the protean tablets like the iPad, highlights our critical need to both teach and practice self-discipline in our lives. Is it easy to read a book for several hours on an iPad which has “Angry Birds” and “Words With Friends” on it? No. It’s not easy to write on a dissertation for most of the day either, when you have an email account and a life outside the university. Both things CAN be done, however, but only with a sizable helping of self-discipline. 

Are you helping students cultivate their skills of self-regulation and self-motivation in the classroom? It’s certainly easier not to.  We ignore these skills today in our classrooms at the peril of our workforce. If you think the choices presented by today’s smartphones, regular cell phones, and tablets are distracting now, just wait a few months. The landscape will continue to proliferate with apps and choices.

Self-discipline. We need more of it. As adults, it’s important we continue to not just discuss it with youth in our spheres of influence, but also PRACTICE it. No one ever learned how to swim by just watching a teacher draw on the chalkboard and explain the procedures.
Steven Levy on Kindles in the Tabletized World
http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/09/pr_levy_kindle/

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4 Responses to Self-discipline critical in our tablet and smartphone filled world

  1. I totally agree with you that “single use devices” should not be used to control student access to the rest of the good things available. And I want every student to have access to as much information as they need 24×7.

    I carry my iPad everywhere and use it for everything that I can. (And very rarely use it for edutainment!) I do read my Kindle and Nook books on it using the iPad apps. However, I do happen to enjoy reading the Kindle for long periods of time because it is much easier on the eyes and I can read it at the beach and outside. I know this is not the point you are trying to make, but sometimes a single-use device is the best choice if it does the task best! IMHO.

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  3. Chris Patrick says:

    I think the single use devices controlling student access is sometimes needed. Control is good when you have students that abuse the freedom of having access to the internet and social networks at school. I’m against students having iphones and ipads in schools because not every student can afford the technology and the ones that have it would be a distraction to the ones who do not. Computer labs that can be accessed by the entire school population is the way to go to give students their unlimited access to the web.

  4. James Wilhelmson says:

    Very good observation Chris, to be against students having iphones and ipads in schools because not every student can afford the technology and the ones that have it would be a distraction to the ones who do not. I remember when I was student there were computer labds that could be accessed by entire school population, even after school hours or in weekends, in spare time I mean.
    So if someone really needs to access techonology then there is a way with the computer labs.

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