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

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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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User Rank: Apprentice
11/19/2013 | 2:06:02 PM
Re: Classic Big Bang
I think you've hit the nail on the head.  Let's adapt.  And I also agree that the real trick will be how each teacher deploys the technology using their own unique instruction methodologies. But, I also think there's a real opportunity for curriculum content creators to capitalize on producing more entertaining ways to learn, because let's face it, the classroom can be boring at times, despite a teacher's best efforts.  If children are bored, they aren't paying much attention.  

I authored Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore, a children's picture book app, specifically for the iPad because I was looking to create an "experience" for children which includes the power of the written word, moving parts through animation, interactivity, music, and professional voice-over in narration.  These creative components keep children both entertained and engaged, and these types of apps can't be replicated with conventionally printed books or textbooks.  I'd like to see the same type of experiences developed for our children by utilizing the technology they now hold in their hands.  Clearly, I'm a technology advocate and am glad to see our classrooms catching up with the times.  Thanks for the comments!
Li Tan
Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
11/19/2013 | 8:26:36 AM
Re: Classic Big Bang
Tom, I do agree with you. The new generation should have a more efficient tool in hand for learning so that they can absorb new information quicker. With the technology evolution, the students can get rid of the heavy paper books and use this handy tool instead. Furthermore, it's very straightforward to introduce multimedia material by virtue of iPad and other kinds of portable device. Many people worry about the abusement of the device but I think this is not the reason to stop such kind of trailblazing program - iPad/tablet is just the tool/medium. It all depends how the school use it in education in a proper and smart way.
User Rank: Apprentice
11/16/2013 | 3:33:18 PM
Re: Classic Big Bang
I guess students want to get rid books ...its e-book what is working here with amazing graphics...i still remember my school days i use to love my science book a lot just because it had gr8 coloured pictures and graphics...same goes here watching movie is easy and but reading story is little tough...
Tom Murphy
Tom Murphy,
User Rank: Author
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.

User Rank: Apprentice
11/15/2013 | 3:23:41 PM
Grow Young!
I'm getting older and occasionally find myself thinking the way old people do, "that isn't the way it is done".  So I usually try to think about what I would say/feel if I were a kid mixed with the benefit of my experience.

No doubt, iPad will be a distraction even if implemented well.  So will the phone in the student's pocket.  Don't kid yourself, textbooks are not going to keep students from checking their phone or other electronic device (and don't assume kids aren't checking them in class).  At least with some security it can be locked down.  

The real issue, will be how each teacher uses the technology. There are some amazing learning apps and tools that could really make this a home run. But I agree with other comments that schools have to rush to get what they can and the rollout is probably a bust.

Just like the technology I'm responsible for at Geiger, it starts with understanding what is going to be done with the technology and then ensuring it gets used that way.  While I'd love to have 1 billion dollars to work with, I'd hate the missed expectations.  
Thomas Claburn
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
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
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
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
Alex Kane Rudansky,
User Rank: Author
11/15/2013 | 9:35:42 AM
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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