The comic strip Bloom County used to refer to a computer giant named “Microsquash,” a punning label referring of course to Microsoft’s dominant position in the computer industry . I won’t accuse the folks in Redmond of misty-eyed benevolence, but some folks assign mystical qualities to Apple–qualities which I’m not sure the Cupertino brand deserves.
I’ve been following a discussion on NEA’s LinkedIn group about the value of iPads as an instructional tool. Note that the online reference was to “iPads,” not “tablets.”
Am I the only one troubled by the brand identity inherent in these discussions? I have to give credit to Apple for its work with the education market; but schools are being used to help sell a single product line.
We need to teach the prudent and humane use of technology as well as how to maximize its potential. But when we select one company’s product, parents and students perceive us as endorsing that brand, a fact not lost on technology vendors. This ethical dilemma didn’t exist prior to the introduction of modern educational technology.
I’m not anti-Apple: I myself have and use both an iPad and an Android tablet. And yes, I know that the operating systems developed by Google and Microsoft are single-brand products as well. I’ll concede that Apple’s closed supply chain means greater control by them and less frustration for users. But it also means that Apple has a far more visible brand identity.
Outside the schools, the technological ecosystem is highly diverse. My concern is that kids will graduate unprepared for it.
At least when we talk with kids and the community, let’s call a tablet a tablet, a phone a phone, and a computer a computer. Let’s not use “iPad,” iPhone,” and “iBook” as generic terms. On the other hand, “iPod” may be safe: from what I hear, it may be a category unto itself.
Retired teacher and public education leader. Pastoral musician, community activist, parliamentarian, and photographer.
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