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–