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The fruit, the penguin, or the window are all the wrong choices.

In today’s instructional technology, many people are still arguing about what operating system is right for contemporary classrooms: Apple, Linux, or Windows? This, however, is the wrong conversation.

First and foremost educators should always be talking about curriculum and how technology can enhance the delivery of instruction. However, that is a whole separate discussion. When it comes to a delivery component, the real debate should not be about the operating system, but about the browser.

In the last few years, we have seen an explosion of educational content that is online. The academic world is beginning to catch up and produce valuable content available on the Internet. We should embrace this development because among other things, it supports authentic lifelong learning experiences.

Lifelong learning is possible because content is available on the Internet. A student no longer has to worry about whether he understands new material within a certain time period; he does not have to worry that he will only have one other opportunity to learn the new material at the same “Bat Time, same Bat channel” the next day. This is true whether the content is a CD- based piece of software, or instruction directly from the teacher. Students should have content available whenever they like. This might even revolutionize the way districts organize the school day and for districts to re-examine why students continue to learn in a factory model. Considering when students learn best depending on their age, they could be learning at 2AM and get a better grasp of new material, compared to learning at 7AM when the research shows that most teenagers do not learn best at that time.

Teachers appreciate the flexibility of using online educational content as much as students enjoy learning from online content. If educators are going to add technology to an already packed curriculum, then they need to provide opportunities to engage their students by using any connected computer in the world. That allows teachers to deliver content in multiple ways and levels the playing field for students of all learning styles.

Online educational content has become so powerful, and full of rich content that, in some cases, it can only be delivered via the Internet. So the next time you are watching television and a “I am a PC” or a “Mac versus PC” commercial comes on, have a good laugh and then realize that within the next 5-10 years, the question will be moot.

James Yap

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