I think that the question here is what really helps kids learn. Kids learn best when they are motivated and engaged, as we see in "The Hole in the Wall Project". It is amazing what they can do when they are motivated. When they want to figure something out.
Anyone who has watched a kid with an iPad knows how easy, intuitive and fun it is. Today's kids use them as if they were born to use them - and I do not work for Apple! Crowds literally gather around my 4-year-old as he whips through the apps and works on his letters in one of the many apps available for learning.
Will iPads improve classroom learning? Most likely. Especially if kids have them at home (like many of them now have computers and phones at home).
Will iPads create a greater divide between the Haves and Have nots? Did computers? Did TVs? Did telephones? In the beginning, perhaps yes. But the world is catching up (where for example Africa has more cell phones than TVs).
Let's not naysay technology and learning - let's harness and use it! Our digital natives will take it, use it and build on it in ways we would have never dreamed.
I have to say I am a little worried about screen addiction as we run down the road of using iPads in schools. I just read a piece by David Pogue, the technology columnist for the New York Times, A Parent's Struggle with a Child's iPad Addiction, and he tells the tale of his six-year-old's addiction to the iPad. He makes great points about how his son is gainfully engaged in educational tasks on the iPad, but isn't iPad screen time the same as computer screen time, cell phone screen time and TV screen time? How many hours a day would our kids then be on screens and not engaged in learning and interacting with humans?
Am I just a dinosaur or should we be exercising some restraint on overall screen time?
Clearly our children will learn with iPads and other technology, but is addiction a risk - and a price?
Thanks for bringing up this conversation! Our brand new superintendent of the Ithaca School District is comes from his previous job (in VA) where he apparently had great success in introducing this kind of technology to the classrooms, and it is my understanding that he will be working to bring that here as well. Now that I have a son in the public school system, I'm really alert to all this. I'm not sure what to think of it, though. Just keeping an open mind and open eyes.
I have more appreciation than ever of teachers and the monumental job they have. It feels overwhelming to me.
Technology no doubt only improves learning if it's used to its full potential in the classroom. Teachers need to be guided on how to use the technology effectively for it to make an impact. This case study in Colombia by The World Bank makes an interesting read.
There is much research regarding learning and instruction using small screen devices such as cell phones, PDAs and hand held devices. I presume that iPads will yield similar results which indicate that for certain activities small screen devices are useful and for other activities are inadequate. It is call a question of suitability and relative advantage, something that needs to be examined regarding iPad use for learning and instruction.
Meredith Ely, writing for the HuffPost today, just set out the argument that iPads (and in particular the iPad 2, announced yesterday) might "level the playing field for learning". Clearly this is the topic of the day!
With over 15 million iPads sold to date, we might see its ubiquity as a matter of time. With the launch of the iPad 2, Apple will continue its push to democratize technology through anticipated lower costs, proven utility, and product "stickiness". Tablets have generated a lot of buzz in the last year for their educational potential, but the iPad 2 has the capacity to disrupt education in even more drastic ways. Lower cost, mobility, and intuitive design mean schools will be interested in the new iPad, but what is more significant is use among a more "overlooked" or "underestimated" constituency in education -- families.
As education technology advocates, my colleague Rafael Corrales and I brainstormed ways in which the iPad 2 might have a unique impact on education.
Well I guess its really up to the part where the schools who have executed the program to administer the technology well.
As you all know, the iPad, or even all the other gadgets out there are not really built just for education and there are so much other applications that can be run that has nothing to do with it. Without any control of which application the students are allowed to run, it could be a nightmare. To add further to that, there is no way of blocking ones freedom of which programs to run because apple does not have a lock system that blocks off the unwanted apps. Its all in the question of whether the schools have authority over each iPad really.
I'm not cynical about the topic but there are some loopholes into the fact that iPads are used for education. Personally I am in favour of this but just a tad worried what might be called "backfires of technology".
The issue for me is how we enhance learning using any resource - beit pens, papers, slide rules, calculators, books, or even laptops and Ipads. What all these technologies do - if used well - is give access to more information and data. Given the large volume of information that is available - it is very important that we support young people in developing critical skills so they challenge the source, writers and producers of information rather than taken it at face value. Those critical skills which are fundamental in understanding language, are of even greater importance when such information is easily accessible. We need to make sure young people are critically challenging the information they receive - regardless of how it reaches them.