iPads in Education

I've been preparing to do a test run of iPads in my small English 12 class. I've never used an iPad before last week. So to get ready, I attended a half-day iPad seminar that introduced us to ways (specifically through apps) the iPad and iPod Touch could be used in schools. Check out this list of apps:

Keynote - $9.99
Pages - $9.99
Numbers - $9.99
Non App LinksPoll Anywhere
iTunes U (Kahn Academy)
U Lit2Go
ArtPhotoshop Express - free
Sketch- $.99
Adobe Ideas - free
Art Authority - $9.99
ElementaryPark Math HD - $1.99
SUPER WHY! - $3.99
Fish School HD - $1.99
iWriteWords- $2.99
BrainPOP- free
Ancient Egypt - $4.99
EnglishShakespeare - free
Shakespeare in Bits: Romeo and Juliet - $14.99
MathMath Board - $3.99
Graphing Calculator HD - $1.99
Number Line - free
ScienceCoaster Physics - $.99
Solar Walk - $2.99
Molecules- free
PTE (Periodic Table) - free
Wolfram Alpha -$1.99
3D Sun - free
NASA- free
Frog Dissection - $3.99
The Elements - $13.99
Star Walk - $4.99
History Maps - free

I'm not going to lie, as these Apple reps. ran through each app, I was impressed. Everything about what they showed us screamed differentiation. I was sure that kids would be more hooked on learning with an iPad--I thought iPads might solve our attendance issues. I was stoked as I left the seminar.

But in the past week as I've researched apps and using the iPad as an educational tool, I'm not so sure it's the greatest move quite yet. The iPad is still a new tool---it's only been out since April 2010. I have a good amount of trust in Apple after using their products for the past two years, but if our district is going to make such a huge switch from laptops in the hands of every 9-12 student to iPads in the hands of every 9-12 student, then I think we need to give it a few years of development first.

I believe the iPad is an awesome piece of technology that was designed for personal use, not institutional use. I came across this blog yesterday that touches on thinking about how the iPad is intended to be used and that is for personal use---it's a device that is supposed to be used by one user (or a small household of users) and customized to fit that user's needs. It was not designed to be passed around and used by multiple users. I don't even think it was designed for educational use. Don't get me wrong, there are some valuable educational uses for the iPad and I do think it would be a great piece of adaptive technology, but as the aforementioned blog post points out---it's an uncomfortable switch from a computer.

In my composition heavy classroom, we need access to computers. Without the keyboard docking station, we'd spend more time typing longer pieces of writing than we would on a laptop/desktop simply because the keyboard on the iPad is not built for composing longer works.

Perhaps the major reason why I believe this is not yet a good switch is how fast it's happening. In my short time of teaching, it seems that schools tend to jump on technologies before really thinking about how to make it worthwhile in a large institution. I love technology and I believe that we need to incorporate it more into our classes---but, if we are going to make this major change in the way we present curriculum, then teachers need time and support to adapt their curriculum to make full use of the iPads. I don't believe we were given that with the laptops, and I fear we won't have that with the iPads. Without built in time to research, think, play, collaborate, and develop--we'll run into the same issues we are with the laptops: teachers won't use them enough to justify dollars spent on the tool.

In this new digital era and in a time where budgets are tight, we have to be critical consumers. We cannot just purchase without really evaluating how effective a tool is.

No comments: