iPad Changes Education: For Better, Or Worse? - InformationWeek

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11/15/2013
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iPad Changes Education: For Better, Or Worse?

As a growing number of schools adopt tablets, students and teachers need to hold on for a bit of a bumpy ride during the implementation phase.

Across America, the presentation of school curriculums is being transformed by mobile technology. Laptops, ultrabooks, and the recently more popular general-purpose tablets -- like the Apple iPad -- have been distributed to some of our nation's students in an effort to align them with technology, despite their various socioeconomic backgrounds.

Recently, the Los Angeles Unified School District implemented a $1 billion effort to provide each of its students with iPad tablets. The district's ambitious program, however, has fallen under intense scrutiny due to poor planning and implementation, security and Internet concerns, and worries from parents about out-of-pocket expenses and lost devices.

But the news isn't all bad. In fact, some schools have already mastered the implementation of iPads in their teacher-led curriculums.

Dr. Susanne Maliski, an advocate for iPad-assisted learning, holds a master's degree in curriculum and instruction with a specialization in educational technology. She also holds a doctorate in education leadership from California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Dr. Maliski currently teaches,  oversees sitewide technology, and coordinates the iPad program at Ascension Lutheran School, a private K-8, also in Thousand Oaks.

When asked why she chose the iPad, Maliski said, "We decided to implement the 8th grade iPad One-to-One Program after researching many options. We selected the iPad based on the costs, durability, and battery length that were issues when our school issued laptops previously. Our goal was to create meaningful lessons that engaged learners and helped further 21st century learning goals."

[ There's a better way to acquire curriculum. Open Educational Resources: Smart Policy. ]

Maliski indicated that overall, the program integration has been smooth for both students and teachers.

"As a teacher, the iPad gives me another resource to engage learners in new and different ways. The device also allows students to collaborate through applications. The students have a wealth of tools at their fingertips that they can access anywhere on campus and from home," said Maliski.

Although the transition to iPads in the classroom has gone swimmingly, it is difficult to obtain the resources needed to make the switch. In addition to the high costs of purchasing, providing network support, and monitoring the iPad program, there is the issue of changing technology, which forces teachers to maintain a balance of staying abreast of these obstacles while still striving to learn themselves.

Maliski added that, when implementing iPads, it's important to know "educational resources are growing especially with the shift to Common Core. But the real challenge is getting a handle on who owns the device and who owns the curriculum. It's different from purchasing textbooks in the past, which could be used for many years. Apps can be purchased and reassigned in many cases if the school owns the iPads. This is an area we are still researching, but as it stands the curriculum right now needs to be repurchased per user."

It may be easy to see how a private school in California can implement a costly technology program, but what about Culver Community High School, a small, public school in rural Culver, Ind.?

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Tom Murphy
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Tom Murphy,
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11/15/2013 | 5:28:56 PM
Re: Classic Big Bang
I'm genuinely surprised to see so many tech-savvy and tech-loving people take such a ludditian stance on tablets in schools. 

First, computers have been in schools for a decade now, and many kids learn how to use them starting at age 2. The shift to tablets is more like evolution than revolution.

Second, a tablet is no better than a book in a classroom with an uninspired teacher. It's just the medium, not the message.

Third, if we're worried about what kids might find on the Internet, how about teaching the kids right from wrong?  We can't always be around to act as mind police in their lives. (And see the first item...kids are alread online.)

Fourth, EVERY kid should get a tablet at government expense and be able to access the same curricula at government expense.  It's far cheaper than providing text books. Having rich kids buy their own when poor kids can't would be the quickest way to widen the digital gap in our society.  Conversely, providing equal footing is the quickest way to opportunity for all.

Finally, if tablets cause the minds of children to wonder and explore, isn't that wonderful?  With guidance from a teacher, I can think of no better goal for our schools.

 
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 12:47:48 PM
Re: Skeptical
The main virtue of iPads (or other tablets) seems to be durability and ease of use, neither of which guarantee effective teaching or interesting projects.
Susan Fogarty
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Susan Fogarty,
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 12:42:57 PM
Re: Classic Big Bang
Completely agree with Rob that LA took the wrong approach, and the schools that are most successful phase devices in over time, usually starting with staff. However, the way we fund public education in the US doesn't always allow for that, and schools have to campaign and fight for every dollar they get. If there's a chance they can get $1 billion in funding, they're going to go for it.
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 11:49:31 AM
Re: Classic Big Bang
Miami Dade county is the latest to delay a 1:1 iPad rollout, finding it tougher than expected

Dade delays tech rollout as other districts struggle @MiamiHerald.com http://add.vc/iUz  #edtech #ipad
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 11:07:14 AM
Classic Big Bang
This is the classic Big Bang IT project. Instead of rolling out iPads to select schools or even classrooms, the Los Angeles school district plunges in with a $1 billion mega-project. Figure out first what works where (and what doesn't work and why not) and then proceed incrementally. Take small steps before committing $1 billion in taxpayer money.
Alex Kane Rudansky
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Alex Kane Rudansky,
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 9:35:42 AM
Skeptical
While I think technology in the classroom is essential for effective learning in the 21st century, I'm skeptical about introducing iPads. Even adults are distracted by their devices while at work (and more annoyingly, sometimes during social engagements). I think the potential for distraction is enormous, and in most cases outweighs the benefit of the education potential.
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