On 26 April 2009, then-high school student Travis Allen launched a video sharing his vision of the future of education with the world. The iSchool Initiative, as he calls it, is a systematic reconstruction of public education in which students and teachers utilize touch-based apps for virtually all of their learning needs. Since then, Allen and his project have received national attention and government support. As a college student, Allen and a team of colleagues are touring schools across the country to share seminars on the iSchool Initiative.
The iSchool Initiative’s mission statement is: “to inspire and educate students on how to become lifelong digital learners in the information age. We accomplish this by raising awareness for the technological needs of the classroom, providing collaborative research on the use of technology in the classroom, and guiding schools in the implementation of this technology.”
This statement entails the following utilization of mobile technology to accomplish this: e-mailing assignments between students and teachers, instant grade checks, digital novels, touch-based graphs, calculators, formulae, charts, maps and complete textbooks. Allen’s vision is to have all of this and more readily available at students’ fingertips—and recently, his dream is being realized.
One of the first schools to get a test run of the pilot program was Kearns High School, located in Utah. Three weeks ago, Allen’s YouTube channel was updated with a video documenting one of their seminars in which all 1,700 of the school’s students received an iPod Touch specifically for use in the classroom. In other places, students at the elementary level are being educated with iPads, learning things like simple math, shapes and grammar with its touch-based applications.
If Allen’s vision continues to catch on, our nation’s youth will be immersed in a system of learning vastly different from ours. They will not use textbooks, bulky folders, notebooks, calculators, pencils or even library resources. While this idea may seem like a stretch to many, Allen feels that this is what 21st-century education should look like.
Indeed, the world of tomorrow is vastly different from the one in which many of us were raised. This initiative could evolve into a worldwide revolution or remain limited to the bold and adventurous, but one thing’s for sure: those textbook definition scavenger hunts will be a breeze with a search function.
Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section.