Catalyst.

Something that encourages a reaction to take place.  Catalysts are never consumed by the reaction, they just help it occur.

When I taught students biology, catalysts were always an important topic as they are involved in just about everything the human body does.  When students learned about DNA replication, they learned about DNA helicase, DNA ligase, and DNA polymerase, and role these enzymes (a type of catalyst) had in promoting and supporting the duplication of DNA in human cells.  Without these enzymes, DNA can’t duplicate.

In the educational technology world there is a great ongoing debate about the types of devices students should have, and whether schools should supply them (1:1), students should bring their own (BYOD) or some other combination, such as a combined device approach (see the work of Ryan Bretag) where students receive a device, but can still use their own.

The argument does not have a universal answer, other than that students need a device.  

What types of devices schools elect to have,or not have, should be based on each school’s culture and climate, and their vision for student learning.  

But I’m not that concerned about device type.  What I am interested in is the ability of the device to serve as a catalyst.  So, here is my question:

Is the true value of the device not found in its form factor, its cost, its available apps, but in its ability to connect learners?  

And when you connect learners through that device, no matter what the device is, the device serves as a catalyst for the interactions that fuel learning.  It empowers connections.  I would argue that the connection is most important, that the dialogue of that interaction is essential, and that the sharing of ideas and resources through that interaction represents what the device really should do, that’s the true value, that’s its essence.

I don’t want to talk about operating systems, keyboards, apps or whether the device works with Google Apps.  Every device has some type of limitation.  

Is the connection the catalyst that causes a shift in how students learn?  In how teachers design learning experiences? 

What happens to the device question when the question of importance is about connecting learners?  

Because every device can do that.

Posted via email from David Jakes

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