The other day, my sister Melanie (one of four sisters) came down from Hemet to San Diego with her three boys. Right now, she is finishing up coursework for her teaching credentials and is doing a class on technology in education. One of her assignments is to create a proposal for $25,000 worth of technology equipment/services to be used to enhance learning in the classroom. I suggested immediately that she should include iPads. Her response: “That’s what everyone keeps saying – give the kids iPads. Why?”
My response: people of all ages just get it. Amber Mac, author of Power Friending (an excellent resource for leveraging social media in business), has spoken about how her infant son was able to readily interact with an iPad. In fact, Amber said that he was disappointed that the flat-screen TV did not respond to touch the way an iPad or iPhone does. My own kids required much more time to learn how to use a Nintendo DS and the Wii than they did learning how to use my wife’s iPod Touch.
Another sister of mine, Anny, works with special needs children, specifically those that are moderately to severely disabled. The iPad, according to her, has changed the paradigm for working with these children. At conferences she has attended, companies are clamoring to develop apps specifically targeting these children.
Up until very recently, technology has presented a real barrier of entry. Using a computer requires some basic understanding of fundamental concepts that presents obstacles to those that are differently abled, and/or less experienced. The iOS touch interface that Apple has developed is much more intuitive.
To me, this is what technology is supposed to do. Technological developments should make complicated concepts and difficult processes easier to understand and accomplish. So much of technology has been developed to simply increase revenue, with features being added simply for the sake of adding features. But the point of technology is to make life easier, safer and more enjoyable.
When Walt Disney set out to develop his grand amusement park, he wanted create an environment that could be enjoyed by people of all ages (and all abilities). The iPad has accomplished that same goal. While there are some limitations (the user interface probably isn’t very accessible to people with vision problems or with limited motor skills), the cognitive abilities required to use this cutting edge technology are minimal.