Wednesday, February 9, 2011

iPads to Replace Textbooks?

     "There's an app for that," my first grader says in response to his older brother's question about the constellations. Fact is, there are apps for just about everything, and if there isn't, well, just wait a couple of days. With the development of more educational apps, state legislatures and educators are paying attention. The New York Times reports that schools are embracing the iPad. There is no doubt that the iPad can be as valuable, if not more valuable, in the educational context as it is for home or business use. It's user friendliness and touch screen applications make it an ideal tool for hands-on learning for even the youngest students. While iPads aren't cheep, considering the cost of numerous printed textbooks that frequently need to be replaced due to wear and tear or outdated information, the iPad's capability to be used as an e-reader or digital textbook is appealing and might even be cost effective in the long run. It seems fitting that school districts should consider the value of iPads in the classroom, however we must ask the right questions before getting too far along in the process.
     What is the plan for introducing the iPads into the schools? How will teachers be supported through training and technical support as well as appropriate selection of apps for the iPads? Is there a commitment to continue that technical support beyond the first couple of years of implementation? (After all, technology is great... when it works and when you know how to use it most effectively.) How will they ensure that the iPads are being used effectively? Will students be allowed to take iPads home and if not, how will they access their e-textbooks from home? Also, how can the iPad be used to improve communication and collaboration among teachers and students as well as for school level and school district initiatives and core standards? The potential for iPads in schools should be embraced and spark innovation as well as careful consideration of a strategic plan for implementation, support and training. The good news is, there's probably an app for that!

1 comment:

  1. I wonder how education is going to change over the next few years now that the iPad is here and educators are starting to embrace it? It certainly would be handy to have an iPad rather than a bunch of heavy books to carry around. It's an exciting time, but also a little overwhelming considering we are going to be in charge of a lot of this technology!