Low-tech Hardware May Be the Best Edtech

Low-tech Hardware May Be the Best Edtech

THINK SUBVERSIVE: Turns out that sneaking in rounds of Bomberman during class might point towards an often overlooked piece of pedagogy concerning edtech hardware. Phil Nichols of The Atlantic writes of his history with the venerable TI-83 and "why educational technologies should be more like graphing calculators and less like iPads."

Nichols describes how this “school-sanctioned” Game Boy led him to learn to code, design and craft narratives, and argues that the the calculator's dull, black casing, ease of programming and acceptance in classrooms made it a perfect piece of "subversive" hardware--hardware that embraces self-directed learning, failure and imagination. He compares the calculator with the iPad, whose whose locked-down, iTunes and developers-only innards belie the device’s conventional usage. Nichols explains that this pedagogy of conventional teaching carries over to TVs and Smartboards as well as they are typically used to aid in formal teaching that stresses memorization and recall. However, he doesn’t completely drop conventional learning in favor AAA battery-powered subversion. He ultimately suggests that the best educations result from the tension between the two learning styles.

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