iPads In The Classroom: Worth Doing Right - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Mobile
Commentary
6/24/2013
10:12 AM
Lee Badman
Lee Badman
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

iPads In The Classroom: Worth Doing Right

Tablets in K-12 and higher education should not be technology for technology's sake.

Educational 'Technology' Across the Ages
Educational 'Technology' Across the Ages
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Simply purchasing slick devices like iPads for the classroom is hardly a recipe for educational success.

The temptation to do so is a symptom of an exciting, and perhaps confusing, time in educational technology. Never have students at all grades been more tech savvy, and never have educators had such an astounding range of technical resources available to them for pedagogical use. Let's talk about why iPad programs don't always succeed.

I serve as a wireless network architect and administrator, as well as a part-time faculty member at a private university, and I am parent of three kids who are growing up immersed in technology. I also spent a number of years as an advisor on a technical committee of a local K-12 district, wrestling with how to leverage various technologies that all seemed fascinating, but not easily stitched into the general fabric of the school day. I certainly don't have all of the answers on the topic of iPad initiatives, but I do have broad perspective.

[ Looking beyond the iPad: Texas School District Picks Dell Windows 8 Tablets.]

Also, a bit on iPads themselves is in order. Other tablet devices have made their way into plenty of classrooms, but the iPad has the educational market locked up as measured in volume sold. At the same time, most of my thoughts about iPads apply to all tablets regardless of make, and the challenges facing those who aspire to build educational programs on mobile devices.

Loosely defined, an iPad program puts the devices in the hands of students and faculty, and is intended to bring about the realization of some set of education goals. I break down the challenges with iPad programs into four general areas: the purpose of the program, the students, the teachers (and the K-12 districts/colleges they work for), and the technology itself. Here's where each can make trouble for an iPad program.

1. What's the purpose of the iPad program?

I've sat in meetings where administrators were bound and determined to put PCs into classrooms, but couldn't say how the machines would be used if their jobs depended on it. The same "technology for the sake of technology" mentality is a real risk with iPads. Any initiative needs a charter and specific goals, but too often technology is brought to a classroom because other schools are doing the same, or because a funding grant was too good to pass up. If you think you can simply get a bunch of devices and figure out how they will be used later, you've likely doomed yourself to failure. That's not to say you can't expand a program beyond the initial goals, but those initial goals must be defined and measurable.

2. Students

The contemporary student has a lot competing for her attention. Even without a device in hand, students wrestle with the same worries and social issues we all did at the various grade levels. Now add iPads, and consider:

Global CIO
Global CIOs: A Site Just For You
Visit InformationWeek's Global CIO -- our online community and information resource for CIOs operating in the global economy.

-- Students are often more adept in using devices than faculty are. I have seen this play out a number of times, from attempts to use GPS units in geocaching activities in physical education to my daughter's own Photoshop class. If the students have to teach the Instructor how to use the device or apps on it, chances for program success are pretty slim.

-- Students can have fleeting attention spans, and are easily distracted. The best teacher in the world is no match for the siren song of the Internet when a device in hand can take you to the Web during a lesson that isn't hooking you. (This is not so different from adult professionals reading email and news in boring meetings at work.)

-- If it's not a 1:1 program, students are less likely to embrace the initiative. iPads are not like networked computers, in that they don't really come with "multi-user" options. Students do best if they can feel like the device is theirs to "customize" and can expect a certain level of privacy with the device for a semester or school year, as opposed to being just an object they put back on the cart for the next person at the end of the class period.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Previous
1 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
David F. Carr
50%
50%
David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
6/25/2013 | 2:46:08 PM
re: iPads In The Classroom: Worth Doing Right
Interesting data points:

How much are iPads in education worth to Apple? http://www.educationdive.com/n... via @educationdive
David F. Carr
50%
50%
David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
6/24/2013 | 9:18:55 PM
re: iPads In The Classroom: Worth Doing Right
So are you saying it's fine to pick the gadget that looks like a good choice today, without worrying too much about tomorrow? Argument being: today's choice will be obsolete tomorrow anyway. That's what I took from the first part of your note: the idea that planning for long-term maintenance was probably fruitless when tech is changing so fast.
David F. Carr
50%
50%
David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
6/24/2013 | 9:16:15 PM
re: iPads In The Classroom: Worth Doing Right
That's why Lee focused on the iPad primarily and other tablets only peripherally.
InformationWeek Is Getting an Upgrade!

Find out more about our plans to improve the look, functionality, and performance of the InformationWeek site in the coming months.

Slideshows
10 Things Your Artificial Intelligence Initiative Needs to Succeed
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  4/20/2021
News
Tech Spending Climbs as Digital Business Initiatives Grow
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  4/22/2021
Commentary
Optimizing the CIO and CFO Relationship
Mary E. Shacklett, Technology commentator and President of Transworld Data,  4/13/2021
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
2021 State of ITOps and SecOps Report
2021 State of ITOps and SecOps Report
This new report from InformationWeek explores what we've learned over the past year, critical trends around ITOps and SecOps, and where leaders are focusing their time and efforts to support a growing digital economy. Download it today!
Video
Current Issue
Planning Your Digital Transformation Roadmap
Download this report to learn about the latest technologies and best practices or ensuring a successful transition from outdated business transformation tactics.
Slideshows
Flash Poll