iEducation? Not Yet Apple!

Returning to my original discussion of being a writer in the digital age, I turn my sights on the schools in United States. Apple has very recently announced their initiative to make the iPad the go to tech for classrooms. The only problem is that they may be too forward thinking for school across the country.

Like the rise of the internet and personal computers, the mass acceptance of technology in every area of life takes time.  Apple can’t expect the school to pounce on  the iPad apps and have them flow flawlessly into every student’s hands.  An article from CNN gives an interesting comparison of tech use in classrooms: “in 2009, a survey by the National Center for Education Statisticsfound that while 99% of public school teachers have some access to computers, just 29% of public school teachers use them during instructional time “often.” Just 3% of schools in a 2010 survey by the FCC said they have a one-to-one computer ratio.”

That statistic is undeniable. The teachers have access to computers almost all of the time and even now in the digital age of smart phones, tablets, and laptops teachers still do not use technology in the classroom.

Now I know this is changing and some teachers across the country and the world are beginning to incorporate things like twitter and forums to engage the students in conversation. But the consensus is that the world is not willing to switch over.

The CNN article opens the idea to having school uses tablets instead of computers, which I agree is a much better use of the school’s budget. However, the idea that the technology is going to be used regularly and effectively is still in question.

The upside for iPads in schools is that it can make books cheaper for the school and more readily available. The technology will not work so that the iPad and the books purchased will stay with the school. According to CNN’s article, the books purchased on the iPad will only be accessed through the student’s iTunes account.

Not only that, but only a few books are available from each publishing company, so it’s not like the school can get every book it needs off the iBooks app.

The final problem is that to utilize all of this technology in the classroom, the school has to has two very important things. Fast internet connection and funding. They go hand in hand that the funding gives the devices and the fast internet. In turn, the devices and internet allow the students to learn better and give more back to the community that paid for their education. Yet, how many schools have the funding for advanced technology and high speed internet let alone proper dietary needs and other simpler school supplies for their students?
What it boils down to is a few main points:

Even if the school gets funding for the iPads and better internet connection, there is no guarantee the teachers will use the technology effectively in class. Then, once the school gets the technology, the schools aren’t even sure if the books they need will be available. Finally, the most important point is even if all of the other point pull through positively it is not 100% certain that the students will learn more effectively.

 

So, as I step down from my teacher in training soap box. I propose this question for those on both sides of this educational debate. Do you think the students will actually learn and retain more with the iPads? Or is it another chance for students to pay less attention to the content they could very easily learn from having a paper, pen, and book?

 

Acknowledgments: Please visit the CNN article for the statistics and more on the subject–

http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/20/tech/innovation/ipad-wont-transform-education/index.html

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4 Comments

Filed under Idea of the Day

4 responses to “iEducation? Not Yet Apple!

  1. Ahhhh, this old debate, one I often find myself in as a (now) second year out teacher. Here in Australia, all the students are given laptops from year 9 onwards (about the age of 14, roughly), with varied results. Some take good care of them, and use them and achieve great things with them, but many students do just become distracted and muck around on them. As a result many teachers don’t allow them in the classroom because they just disrupt learning. But as a young teacher myself, I try different ways of using technology that will actually engage the students enough for them to not think about playing games (something which is easier said than done, I must admit). I think teachers need to embrace technology, because we are now teaching the digital generation, but I think what a lot of people haven’t yet accepted is that in order to make lessons involving technology work, a considerable amount of planning, enthusiasm and (dare I say it) confidence is needed. But the pay off is definitely worth it.
    I don’t know if the iPads idea is quite the way to go, though – there’s something I don’t like about a business like that trying to make money out of education in such a way that might not benefit the students. It’s a very tricky and complicated debate….

    • When you put it that way, I have to agree to an extent. Although I’m not a teacher (yet) I do know one simple truth. Making education complicated for kids is going to make kids less likely to learn and retain information. I agree that there is no getting around the use of technology in the classroom. However, I think teachers, administrators, and even parents need to be aware of how to use the tech in the proper way. My worst fear is that this is just another distraction for children who are progressively being diagnosed with attention deficit disorders and being bored with the content they are being taught. I suppose if the delivery is something they are familiar with (like computers and tablets) they will be more willing to pay attention. I just find it so much simpler to stick to what we know. It’s worked for decades and taking the personal relationship out of teacher student interaction is what may make learning more difficult. If your students have their heads on the screens, then they don’t get the personable experience of a teacher talking to them and working with them in person. And for some students that is key to understand material is having someone work with them in real time beside them. I think that it will be lost if school begin to rely on tech for everything. I know it’s a long way off, but I’m scared about the relationships that won’t be built if it’s all online.

      • Oh definitely, I agree. An important aspect of teaching is that relationship with the student that you get from face to face teaching, and for some students they need that to learn at all, especially the students who don’t get encouragement to learn or achieve from anywhere else. I think getting the balance right between technology and face to face teaching is one of the bigger challenges education will face in the next few years, but they need to get it right, whatever happens.
        Still, despite me saying all this, I think it’s an exciting time to be a teacher! How long do you have until you’re a teacher?

      • It’s a turning point in education. I have tech discussion with my bf who loves computers and he said a similar thing. The tech isn’t going away and it’s going to change a lot of things so we’re going to have to adjust. I’m in the process of getting my M.F.A. now. It will be about 2 year until I have that and hopefully I will do some adjunct teaching after that. 🙂

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