Why the iPad Should be used in Classrooms

As I’ve written in previous posts, the iPad is having tremendous success being used in school classrooms – from kindergarten classes to university classrooms. The iPad has spawned what I’ve called the ‘tablet wars’ with a wave of tablets introduced at CES in January is just the tip of the iceberg.

Lower price points will make tablets even more appealing to schools over time. For close to a year, Apple went virtually unchallenged in the tablet market. Increased competition should drive down prices. With dozens to hundreds of offerings, many based on Google’s open source Android OS, we can expect to see prices falling quickly just as they have for laptops, smartphones and HDTV sets. If you look at the right time you can even find Apple’s original iPad for as little as $349 (if you get the timing right and don’t mind a refurbished model).

It’s worth noting that the iPad has surpassed even the most optimistic of projections to define a brand new product category and become the best-selling gadget of all time, and Forrester analysts project that in 2011, tablet sales will more than double.

How close are we today to tablets displacing computers on campuses? As I’ve mentioned I don’t believe the tablet should replace computers for certain things – but there is certainly a place for the tablet in every student’s learning experience. Tablets are definitely ready for the classroom. In his Mashable article of May 16, 2011, Vineet Madan makes an argument for colleges and universities to consider as he lays out 6 reasons why he believes the tablet is ready for the classroom.

In that article, he cites positive reports from recent iPad pilot programs at schools across the country and notes that some colleges have even begun distributing tablets to all of their students.

Here are the top reasons Vaneet says the tablet is ready for the college classroom (and I would argue that these reasons are applicable to younger age classrooms as well).

1. Tablets Are the Best Way to Show Textbooks


ipad edu image

Tablets are capable of offering enhanced ebooks featuring images, video and audio. These elements are impossible to include in print or in a standard ebook. Read about music? No thanks, I’ll follow my auto-advancing sheet music as the audio plays. See a picture of Martin Luther King, Jr. as I read his “I Have a Dream” speech? I guess that’s fine, but with one tap of my finger, I’m watching it. The result is a more integrated learning experience, which is more engaging for students. This isn’t the future — this is today.

By allowing students to highlight text, take notes in the margin and access a dictionary directly within the book itself, tablets are matching (and in some cases, surpassing) everything that a traditional book — print or digital — can offer.

2. Classrooms Are Ready for Tablets

Though tablets are a recent phenomenon, many students in high school and college have been using smartphones for years, and are already well-acquainted with touchscreen technology. Because they’ve become so accustomed to using these devices, students are increasingly expecting to use them in the classroom setting. When classrooms don’t implement what has now become “everyday” technology, we’re doing students a disservice.

Additionally, students — and consumers in general — are becoming more comfortable using tablets for advanced tasks. According to a new Nielsen survey, 35% of tablet owners said they used their desktop computers less often or not at all now, and 32% of laptop users said the same. Most tellingly, more than 75% of tablet owners said they used their tablet for tasks they once used their desktop or laptop for. While tablets can’t totally match laptops in terms of functionally (yet), they can get today’s students most of the way there.

3. Tablets Fit Students’ Lifestyles

The appeal of tablets to a college student is obvious: They’re thin, lightweight, and spring to life without delay, making them much easier to take to (and use in) class than a laptop or netbook. Longer battery life means that students don’t have to worry about carrying a charger with them. Forgot what the professor said at the end of class about the mid-term? Launch Tegrity, tap the lecture and replay it in just seconds. That’s faster than texting a half-dozen classmates and waiting for what might be an inaccurate response.

4. Tablets Have the Software to Be Competitive

Some of the most innovative software around is being developed specifically for tablets. In addition to the thousands of exciting educational apps available, tablets are fully compatible with online teaching and learning platforms, such as Blackboard, which are becoming the norm at colleges and universities. In fact, tablets’ current shortcoming — limited multitasking — could be their greatest asset in education, as it forces students to focus on one task at a time.

5. Tablets Integrate With Education IT Trends

Cloud-based solutions have become ever more popular with colleges and universities, which are looking to deliver synchronized experiences that are device agnostic. Tablets align well with this trend, given their portability and options for constant connectivity. With tablets and cloud-based systems, students can work anywhere on campus and make sure that their work is saved in a central location and accessible from all of their devices. They also don’t have to pay for computing power that they no longer need.

6. Tablets Are Becoming More Available

One of the primary reasons that tablets have been slow to penetrate the higher education market was their limited availability. Apple’s supply chain issues and the difficulty that some Android tablet manufacturers have faced in getting their products to market have made it difficult for schools to get serious about adopting. As these issues are resolved over the coming year, expect to see more and more tablets popping up on campuses.

This post taken from an article by Vineet Madan, Vice President of McGraw-Hill Higher Education eLabs. His post is entitled, 6 Reasons Tablets Are Ready for the Classroom and was published on Mashable, May 16, 2011. He wrote the article on a tablet with a touchscreen keyboard.


28 thoughts on “Why the iPad Should be used in Classrooms

  1. While all this technology is our childrens era, I don’t feel that Ipads should be used until about the 5th grade. Our kids are missing out on alot of fundamentals due to technology. They still need to learn how to turn a page, open a book and read it. Plus writing skills have diminished greatly. Kids are always typing their names instead of writing there names with a good old pencil and paper. I can hardly read what my kids write because there is more focus on Ipads and computers rather than the basics.

    Concerned Parent

    • I don’t see children missing out on anything in my first grade classroom. We have a class set of iPods that we can use for listening to reading, working on word study concepts, practicing math facts, and even practicing letter formation.
      Technology is not a replacement for fundamentals, it is one tool for the fundamentals. People outside of the school system often do not understand the professionalism that takes place within the classroom. The training, the planning, the appropriateness of activities, the time and place for these activities are not taken lightly. Just because there are apps for coloring doesn’t mean real crayons and paper are taken out of the kindergarten classrooms. It is time to respect and trust the very people that educate the children.
      By the way, developmentally, infants in cribs should be learning to hold a book and turn the page – that is reading at their level.

      • You really ARE an apple nerd if you care that much about the proper capitalization in the name iPad. It’s not the spelling that’s wrong by the way.
        I work at a school with emotional behavior disorder students who would benefit immensely from a tool like the iPad! They could keep track of their homework completion, teacher’s updates on their planbook for each week to stay ahead, and access online textbooks, even when they’re home sick.
        We have recently integrated smart boards in the classroom. Why not go one step further? These students are walking through the halls with their phones and other devices, and could transfer their technology knowledge into the classrooms and for some students may open up a whole new world if they don’t have access to these advances in their homes.

        I’m all for it!

  2. While I agree that iPads are very cool, I am still struggling with what extra they bring to the learning. Most of these points speak to the convenience, but they don’t speak to any higher order thinking skills etc. I could probably come up with a few of my own; such as being able to find different ways to represent their learning (such as making a movie with iMovie rather than a “tell about” book report), but if we are just using it as a textbook, that doesn’t make it any more appealing to me. Every decision being made in my school district has to focus on student learning. Our board members don’t want to hear about longer battery life, or portability or reinforcing teaching methods that enable kids to consume media. Our district focuses on moving kids from being consumers to producers; creating and using higher order thinking skills.

    I am sorry, I don’t want to sound negative, and I feel that I am coming across that way…and I apologize-that is not my intent, but I think we need to think more deeply about how an iPad will change learning, rather than how it can make what we already do easier. If we can have those dicussions, I will be much more likely to get funding for iPads in my district.

    • I feel the iPad in hands of all students provides equal learning opportunity as many students do not have access to computers in their homes.

      • But also iPads don’t have a wired connection so unless students have wifi then it is useless for a lot of its functions. I highly doubt a school could afford 3G for them either.

        • I wouldn’t imagine any school buying 3G or any cellular access. The value is in having wifi connections and almost every school will have (if they don’t already) network connections that can be made wireless.

          • I imagine it will be a big deal for many schools to allow students to use iPad in school – and a bigger deal for them to allow students to take them home. WiFi is becoming ubiquitous so a wireless connection outside of the school area will be possible – first a places like the local library. I could also imagine some kind of subsidized internet/wifi connection made available for families once there is enough acceptance of the need for students to use them at home as well…

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  6. Honestly, this fear is unfounded. Teachers are not robots, despite what you may have heard. The vast majority of us know the value of developing manual writing skills, but in today’s world (not to mention the future) almost every academic paper a student will write in middle school and beyond will be done using some sort of word processing. And in the end I would rather my doctor prescribe meds using a type written scrip than his atrocious handwriting. Yes, even those who grew up in the era of handwritten everything have bad handwriting and a paper printed by a computer is almost universally legible.

    • Thanks Kelly! Nice video – clearly highlighting the shift that’s taking place. In Tim Cook’s key note address at the iPhone 4S launch yesterday he mentioned Apple’s belief that the iPad will change the way teachers teach and the students learn. I think he’s right! Unless I mis-understood him, he also said there were more than 1000 schools doing a 1to1 program with iPads. Michael

  7. I am an author who would love to have interaction with elementary and middle schools through my books for iPads and Skype Author Visits. My books just went up in the iBookstore for the US, European, Australian market. Soon they will be in 26 countries. The books are at a good price for schools. Some of these books have been picked by the Apple Store for New and Noteworthy and What’s Hot in Education.

    Here are the US links: You can type in Janie Lancaster in iTunes and the books will come up. Lesson plans for the middle grades are available for the Julie book. Please download free samples for review. Please let me know if you would like me to send you any review copy.



    http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/julie-the-lost-fairy-teachers/id455381171?mt=11 Teacher’s Edition includes 25 pages of lesson plans.


    This one is good for school counselors to promote expressive/therapeutic writing. http://educationviews.org/2011/10/21/an-interview-with-janie-lancaster-books-on-line/

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  10. Today’s children think differently and are raced with Technology and Technology will be part of their future. I believe that the Ipad is the future for education, just think about it; no need to carry heavy books around. Books get destroyed, they cost money, they are always out of date and the cost to have the current range of books for each school year really expensive, schools can cut cost and can invest this money. I love the fact that everything is just a touch away. But I think it’s all about balance, children can use this as an additional tool in the classroom but also need books, paper and ink.

  11. I am a 9th grade freshman at a Florida school where select kids use iPad as a trial or experiment to see how iPads work in classrooms. Do they get better results using iPads? Do they study more? Well it has been proven by using the iPad in class that us students are getting a 3% higher test scores in math then the normal students. Also, science scores for tests quizzes and homework are higher. When it comes to AP classes test scores are MUCH higher then the paper pencil kids. Textbooks are all on the iPad or on the computer which makes backpacks practically weightless. Also, school supplies is down to the basic one pack of paper, pack of pencils and pens for those rare exceptions ( like a test). As a student who uses a iPad only for school. I agree that iPads are GREAT and should be used in all classrooms .

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  13. i just read that the Glendale school are doing away with computer desk top and laptop computer and that they are the thing of the past and there trading them in for ipad computer instead when the kids comes back to school in the fall they will see there computer are gone from the classroom they will be using ipads now and the kids can bring there own ipad to school to used or the school will supply them one in the classroom. the computer are thing of the past now

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