Devices in Australian Schools

Modern devices and software offer many educational benefits, with Australian schools opting to take advantage of the mobility that new technology can provide. We haven’t quite landed on an ideal setting that includes equal access to devices for students across Australian schools. In 2007, Kevin Rudd jumped straight into the deep end, when he proposed a scheme for all high school students to receive a laptop. The cost and maintenance of this program was well overlooked, with students consistently having issues with laptop functionality, placing greater strain on schools and government funding (Wright, 2013). Six years down the track, Australian education communities are trying to come up with their own systems for equipping students with devices, which begin to raise concerns of access and equity.

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Following Rudd’s unsuccessful laptop scheme, the Department of Education has introduced a new policy for high school students, BYOD – “Bring Your Own Device” (Smith, 2014). Many schools have adapted this new policy in various ways, with some requesting that all students must have the same operating system (e.g. students can only bring in devices manufactured by Apple). While it may be more convenient for schools to run and maintain appropriate software and Wi-fi access for one operating system, it places financial strain on families. However, schools that have an open BYOD policy then struggle to ensure the quality of resources among students, as there may be gaps between devices functionality. Additional limitations include a school’s location and socio economic rating. There is also concern that too much technology can hinder the significance of interpersonal communication and cognitive function, being a major distraction for students. High school curriculums are undergoing a dramatic transition, being consistently challenged by the tendency of IT models in learning and teaching (Foo, 2013). Devices aid learning for students, whom can also help teachers with modern technologies – ultimately, we need to create an educational infrastructure that can achieve a balance in access, as well as usage.

References:

Foo, F 2013, Schools Make a Move to BYOD, The Australian, weblog post, 7 May, viewed 11 April 2014, <http://www.theaustralian.com.au/technology/schools-make-a-move-to-byod/story-e6frganx-1226636277661&gt;

Smith, A 2014, It’s BYO Laptop now as Schools End Free Program, Sydney Morning Herald, weblog post, 21 February, viewed 11 April 2014, <http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/end-of-free-laptop-program-means-its-byo-device-now-for-many-high-school-students-20140220-334bz.html&gt;

Wright, J 2013, Computer Cash in Lap of Chaos, Sydney Morning Herald, weblog post, 3 February, viewed 11 April 2014, <http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/computers/computer-cash-in-lap-of-chaos-20130203-2dr65.html&gt;

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Apple & Android: Different Ideas, Great Success.

The two hottest Smartphone’s on the market: Android & iPhone, with the battle of locked vs. generative appliances coming into play. Both successful in appealing to different tastes, however there has been much debate over one being better than the other. Ultimately, I feel it comes down to personal choice. If you’re a tech-wiz, or simply enjoy being able to fiddle with every minute feature on your phone, the Android is an appropriate choice for you. The Android allows you to take control and responsibility over the usage choices you make (via rooting) whereas the iPhone is a ‘sterile’ or closed/locked device.

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The Internet revolution challenged copyright laws, with users freely downloading music, applications, images and software (pretty much anything) – being impossible to manage. Apple attempts to prevent illegal activity used on the iPhone by controlling it as a locked appliance. Therefore a newly purchased iPhone comes tethered to Apple’s desires. To ensure this, Apple has created relative programs to use in conjunction with the iPhone, such as the iTunes store and a walled garden of applications (App store). This means that Apple have complete control over the platform, user and content. It’s also a bonus for Apple, as they receive a 30 per cent profit of everything sold in their App store, which holds almost one million applications. Some would argue that not providing the user with complete control is a negative, however the set features Apple provides seem to please a bulk of the Smartphone market. In addition, not everybody cares about the fiddly elements of their phone and prefer the simple layout Apple provides. The Android is an example of a generative and free platform, with an open garden of applications. Considering these two different devices, there has been much debate over which is better to use or preferred by consumers. The ideologies are completely opposite as Apple states that locking the options for audiences is for their own good, whereas the Android market believes users take responsibility for their free choices. Nevertheless, it is possible for iPhone users to “jailbreak” or gain ‘root’ access to the code, which allows complete control over the hardware and software.

Locked appliances VS Generative platforms

Many of you would remember the days where MySpace was one of the most dominant social networking platforms. Its popularity stemmed from the fact that it was an open and free platform. Users were able to generate their own themes and HTML codes to personalise their MySpace profile. The shift to FaceBook then occurred – a closed platform. Whilst you can still post personal content you cannot control how your FaceBook page looks and works. A similar comparison would be the Android and iPhone. The Android allows you to take control and responsibility over the choices you make with regard to how you use it (via rooting) whereas the iPhone is a ‘sterile’ or closed/locked device. This video outlines how Apple has complete ownership according to how the iPhone is used. In fact, Apple receives a 30 per cent profit of everything sold in their App store, which holds over two million applications.

In an article ‘The Cultural Logic of Media Convergence, Henry Jenkins states that “Cultural policy is increasingly being set not by governmental bodies, but by media companies; we lose the ability to have any real influence over the directions that our culture takes if we do not find ways to engage in active dialogue with media“. Jenkins points out the increasing power of converging media and how consumers play a huge part. This statement made me curious… Is using closed devices giving them the upper hand? Should we be concerned? Will this affect us in the future and if so, how? Our culture is becoming more and more technologically dependent. Is this what we want?

And so now, the battle of locked VS generative appliances comes into play. Ultimately I feel it comes down to personal choice… do you want everything already there for you? Are the extra features necessary? Do you have enough time to adjust it completely/to learn how to root? I think the iPhone does a terrific job and is continuously adapting as technology advances. The thing I love most about the iPhone is that I never have to buy a new phone and I will never get bored, because it is consistently being updated and I am able to update the software with the same device! The most revolutionary idea in the world of mobile phones.