Consumption vs Creation

Lately I have had many discussions about mobile devices and iPads. It is very difficult to get people to focus on the negative side of something that is innately exciting.  You may ask why I have to be so negative, and the answer is because it is part of my job. Someone has to look at all the angles, the long term effects of the positive and the negative, and ask the questions that lift the hype up long enough to see the truth. And this is me usually…maybe unfortunately.

Personally I am a huge fan of portable light weight power efficient technology. I have been a fan since the Star Trek Tricorder. I even bought one of these(see below) when I lived in Japan in 2004-2005, the Compaq Tablet PC TC1000- still the best overall device I have ever owned.


In other words I am not against change, I am just beging logical which requires being negative as well as positive.

The main issue I have is the ratio of Consumption vs Creation.
I have been asking people this question: Aside from using Apps and doing research, what can students create on their own?

I believe the production process if very import. Many Apps allow students to make something, but not something unique and “from scratch”.  And although some Apps are very powerful, they are time consuming compared to using a laptop.

Even with laptops students are often just consuming and not creating. Many times one of the main factors behind this is they can find things that already exist which are much higher in production value than what they can create. So they would rather consume and remix than try to do things from the beginning.

Both consumption and creation are necessary. I am advocating, based-on nothing but my instinct, that we should strive for a 30%-70% balance of consumption and creation respectively. This means that assessments should favor creation and the process of creating over the quality that can be more visually appealing from consuming and remixing.

We cannot expect students to produce a great video, website, ebook, tutorial, etc early on in their educational experience. It takes 100s of hours of practice to master things, and most of the time we just want students to experience new ways of working and thinking.

Whatever schools are looking at, BYOD specifications, school supplied iPads, other technology, etc they need to look at this concept. If you are not considering that students may stop creating, then their learning process is going to be impacted.

Think about it like this – would you rather a child have an XBOX or a Computer? You can play most of the major games on both, but you can only learn to make games on one of them. If you are thinking Xbox, you would be trading a very nice ergonomically designed wifi controller for the ability to create practically anything digital.

Remember in K-12 education it is about the process not the product. It is the failure and critical analysis of that failure that gives students the skills they need to succeed after they move on. It is also about the cultivation of creative energy. It is this energy that can inspire a new generation of learners to take risks and transform new classroom ideas into tangible items, services, or philosophies.

Tony DePrato


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