American children now spend 7.5 hours a day absorbing and creating media — as much time as they spend in school.Even more remarkably, they multitask across screens to cram 11 hours of content into those 7.5 hours.Julissa Muñoz shyly tells me that she likes this device better than her Play Station 2 at home. “I like the fireman game,” where exciting music plays as you choose the right length ladder, which sneakily teaches simple addition and subtraction.
And as the search intensifies for technological solutions to the nation’s and the world’s education woes — “Breakthrough Learning in a Digital Age,” as the title of a summit at Google HQ last fall had it — growing sums of money are flowing into the sector. Major foundations are specifically zeroing in on handhelds for preschool and the primary grades.Make them as educational in the same way that Sesame Street transformed TV with the Big Green Teacher in a Box – or as it were the garbage can. How technology could unleash childhood creativity — and transform the role of the teacher. They love to explore the latest games, flip through photos, and watch You Tube videos while waiting at a restaurant, having their hair done, or between ballet and French lessons.It’s estimated that 5 years from now most people around the world will be getting their connection to each other and everything else woven into the world wide web over a smartphone. But the Manhattan twins don’t yet have their own phones, which is good, since they probably wouldn’t be able to manage the monthly data plan: In November, they turned 3.Thousands of new mobiles — not just smartphones but also ever-shrinking computers — have come into use at schools in the United States and around the world just in the past year.Part Two To understand the transformative potential — and possible pitfalls — of this device-driven instructional reboot, you can look at the impact of one machine, the Teacher Mate, that is getting educational futurists excited.