Would you put an Apple iPad in your child’s backpack? According to this New York Times report, some parents won’t have to; the school is the one supplying the device. It appears that a number of schools throughout the nation are embracing the iPad as a promising tool to teach using Jeopardy-like games.
Rosalyn High School on Long Island handed out 47 iPads in December as part of a pilot program. The initial launch included students and teachers in two humanities classes, although the district hopes to provide the devices to all of its 1,100 students in the near future.
At a cost of $750 each, the iPads are to be used in class and at home during the school year as a replacement for textbooks. Students can also use the devices to communicate with teachers and turn in papers and homework assignments. Teachers are essentially able to extend the classroom beyond the four walls.
While iPads offer a lot of promise, there are some who are concerned that some districts may be rushing to embrace this technology, which may just be a fad.
Larry Cuban, a professor emeritus of education at Stanford University, told the New York Times that there is very little evidence to suggest that kids learn more, faster or better using these machines. He believes the money would be better spent to recruit, train and retain teachers as the novelty of iPads wears off and teachers and students still have to focus on hard-core teaching and learning.
School leaders content that the iPad is more than just a cool new tool as it offers a powerful and versatile tool with a multitude of applications. The devices also offer a large touch screen and flat design, which enables students to maintain eye contact with their teachers. Students also like the much lighter weight as compared with text books.
New York City public schools are also investing in iPads, spending $1.3 million on 2,000 devices. More than 200 Chicago public schools have applied for 23 district-financed iPad grants and the Virginia Department of Education has launched a $150,000 iPad initiative that has replaced history and Advanced Placement biology textbooks at 11 schools. And, six middle schools in four California cities are teaching the first iPad-only algebra course.
Kindergarten students at the Pinnacle Peak School in Scottsdale, Ariz., are also being introduced to the iPad. The iPad lab – dubbed the iMaginarium – features 36 iPads and has become the centerpiece of the school due to the star power the iPad has for the kids.
Will the iPad prove to be the wave of the future for the nation’s educational system? With the introduction of other tablets this year, will the market present more competitive options? This is certainly a lucrative focus for Apple, but one that is also likely to attract other players. Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Jaclyn Allard