Omninox

A blog about education technology, teaching, learning, and startups

Educational Technology: iPads in the Classroom, is it a Good or Bad Idea?

The reasons why technology implementation in the classroom can be both a good and bad thing

iPads in the classroom…It’s a very radical idea that a lot of schools at the kindergarten to high school level have been toying around with and determining whether or not it’s a good idea. School districts try to evaluate whether or not the investments into iPads for classrooms is actually worth it in the long run and debate if the benefits of using it will outweigh the heavy investments. Well here is my take on the debate as I have personally seen what it is like to have technology implementation into a school program.

Save Space and Costs

Good: Think about it…The size of a normal textbook, then think of how many textbooks a student has for every class. Lugging even just two textbooks around class to try and do work is both inefficient and inconvenient. The iPad allows for digital storage of all course materials in a lightweight structure, weighing about a fraction of what a textbook would weigh.

Cost is an important factor too. Textbooks cost on average about $100-$150 each and the amount of textbooks that need to be purchased per student ranges between 5-7 subjects. Add that up and it can be a pretty hefty bill. Not only that but, books degrade, get damaged easily and new editions of the same textbook come out every year nowadays. With an iPad, books can be stored easily on a digital library where they can all be accessed from a single page, and updates is as easy as one click.

Bad: As space efficient and cost effective as the iPad is, it also is a huge capital investment to purchase iPads for each student, considering that the most standard iPad comes at a huge cost of $499, almost 5 times the amount of a single textbook. And the fact that it is a piece of technology means that it is susceptible to electronic errors that may require maintenance, which is another cost to consider.

Effective Teaching Tool

Good: The iPad is a revolutionary piece of technology that allows users to be immersed in the glorious retina screen that can be accessed and utilized with the swipe of a finger. This means that students can be taught with a new approach rather than the conventional teaching methods of lecture and blackboard. The touch feature of the iPad and the ability to display your material on a digital platform allows for a better connection with students who are already used to seeing things on a screen on a daily basis outside of school. In addition, for all you teachers out there, the ability to submit homework via the iPad removes all disputes that start with “My dog ate my homework.” No more excuses can be made!

Bad: Now there is a flip side to all this. Many people argue that students will only look at the touchpad as a tool used for entertainment. Watching movies, surfing the web, playing games are what they’re normally accustomed to using the iPad for. Not only that but some argue that using the screen will lead to reduced attention spans and cause distractions.

My take

Now those are just two of the big reasons behind why iPads in the classroom could both be a good and bad thing. What teachers and district leaders need to understand is that it is all how you use the product. Do I believe that if used improperly that the iPad can prove to be a distraction rather than a helpful tool? Of course. If you were to leave it up to a student to use the iPad for what they seem fun, then of course they are going to just use it for entertainment. The key to using this technology lies in the proper implementation and regulation of the tool. The teachers must learn how to use the iPad effectively and make learning as engaging and fun as possible for each student, while also being able to prevent them from accessing the “entertaining” features of the iPad.

Let’s face it. The world of education is changing at a rapid pace and kids are spending the majority of their lives behind a computer screen that conventional teaching methods seem to be ineffective. Teachers find themselves having to dance in the front of the classroom and make fools of themselves in order to grab the attention of students. Educational institutions need to realize that the way of learning has to catch up the rapid changes in technology, because the students definitely have. It’s up to those who realize it to begin to make the movement towards a smarter way to learn.

(Picture source: http://naturallyhealthyfamilies.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/healthy-balance-1024×681.jpg)