Students Get iPads

students with an iPadI imagine this fall we should be seeing many students using iPads – and many because their school is providing them. This eventuality will come with controversy as there are still many school personnel that do not believe giving students a laptop – or an iPad – will improve learning.

If the teaching methods employed in schools do not change I would tend to agree with this. Just giving students a tool like an iPad will not solve any of the issues related to student engagement and student achievement. Sure there may be some short term novelty but that novelty will wear off – unless something uniquely different happens in the experience of the teacher and in the experience of the students.

For instance, in typical teaching environments where students have access to computers, schools have installed monitoring software to be sure students are following along and not doing other things. In these types of environments the iPad will present a similar challenge. In order to insure students are doing productive things on the device the way they are used in the learning experience will have to be compelling, interesting, and relevant to the learner. And, maybe the need to control everything the student does is part of the problem?

The other thing is what I mentioned in a previous post. The iPad is a consumption device and that creates a problem for schools – as many of the leading schools know they must transition to getting students to be producers and not just consumers.

In a recent ABC News article (June 16th) several schools have announced giving 6th graders (6th and 7th graders in one case) iPads in the fall when school semesters begin again. I imagine, and I hope, these schools would be on leading edge of understanding that just replacing text books and traditional tools with a digital version will likely add little value. The opportunity in these schools is to explore and discover new ways of teaching and learning.

No matter what, the tide has turned, and we will continue to see more and more students carrying iPads at school starting this fall!

From the ABC News article: Coming this fall every 6th grader at Sacramento Country Day School in California, a private school, will receive an iPad at no extra cost to parents. From the headmaster,

“There are hundreds and hundreds of educational apps for the iPad,” he said. “We found that there are so many [that] we felt there was a tremendous opportunity to bridge the gap between the traditional pen and paper and textbook and laptop.”

More from the article and the headmaster:

Students will use the sleek tablets to develop reports, conduct research, read e-books and study. For example, using a flash card application, they could study for tests. They could also hook up the iPad to a projector and easily share a multimedia presentation with the class, he said.

The article also says another school in Wisconsin plans on giving 6th and 7th graders iPads this fall and plans on having all students and teachers from 6th grade through 12th grade using iPads instead of text books by 2012.

The local Racine newspaper published an article both praising the school and warning that being on the leading edge could have some unseen costs – since no one has used iPads under school conditions to date there is little known about how they will hold up.

The ABC News Article: Apple’s iPad Joins the 6th Grade: A Novelty or the Next Big Idea? Schools Embrace iPad as a Teaching Tool, But Some Educators Say It’s Limited

iPad, iFad, iWait – the Journal Times Article