US schools pioneer use of iPad in classroom
04 Sep 2010
What is the next step in the use of technology in schools?
My eye was caught by the 'back to school' story here in the local newspaper in Lewes, Delaware, where pupils start the new academic year next week.
The Cape Gazette interviewed the new superintendent of the Cape Henlopen School District about what was new this year. He highlighted the use of Apple's iPads in the district's schools. www.capegazette.com/storiescurrent/201009-01-15/03004-cape-year.html
No doubt, this is not the only school district to be pioneering the use of the iPad -- indeed I see that a school in Greenock in Scotland is reported to be the first anywhere to deliver all lessons via the iPad. www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/2010/08/31/scottish-school-becomes-first-in-world-where-all-lessons-take-place-using-computers-86908-22525988/
However, what was interesting was that schools are now seeing some very positive possibilities for the iPad. The appeal seems to be the relative cheapness, the lightness, and the easy-to-use qualities of the iPad -- all important factors when issuing hardware to pupils.
For the Cape Henlopen school superintendent, the use of technology is the way to raise achievement levels, particularly in maths. So all 'freshmen' in the district's schools will be issued with iPads, complete with special software to help teach mathematical concepts.
Meanwhile elementary school pupils in the same district are being issued with iPod Touch hand-helds. During the last weeks of the summer holidays teachers in the district were given special training in the use of the devices as education tools, with help from Apple professionals.
Of course, it may be that this is just a novelty. The iPad doesn't offer anything radically different from a laptop. But it may also be that this is a way to harness the obvious enthusiasm of young people for the latest technological device and to use it to encourage learning.
Mind you, with Becta being abolished in England, I'm not sure who is going to be advising schools on the best deals on iPads and the best way to adapt them to educational use.