As we continue to explore the possibility of becoming a 1:1 iPad school, I am starting to put together my arguments in favor of this adoption. Here are some of my thoughts so far. I would welcome your feedback on this document!
Why 1 to 1?
In a digital world where information on a multitude of subjects is both abundant and immediately available, students today must learn to effectively access, analyze, synthesize and integrate this information on a regular basis. By providing our students with immediate access to a digital tool, such as a laptop or a tablet, we provide them with the world at their finger-tips (literally). In a time when the ability to discover an answer is more important than the ability to memorize and regurgitate the answer, we must make those answers readily available to both our students and faculty. If we want a pedagogical shift, 1:1 access to a digital tool will help both to facilitate and to force this change to happen.
Why the iPad (and not a laptop)?
There are many reasons that the iPad makes the most sense as the best tool for our 1 to 1 transition. The low screen profile makes a huge difference in a Harkness/discussion classroom, retaining the intimacy of the classroom conversation without the distraction of a laptop screen. The portability and tablet format allow the iPad to double as an e-reader for textbooks. This will lighten student backpacks and lower their textbook costs. Finally, in addition to internet access, iPad education Apps provide new and engaging ways for students to learn and understand complex concepts.
Why the iPad (and not a different tablet or a bring your own device model)?
Given that we are an Apple school, the iPad makes the most sense for us as an institution. Our faculty are comfortable with the MacOS and many already use iPhones and iPods. Maintaining a single platform for all students will make for the smoothest transition to 1 to 1 by giving all students access to the same tools, books and Apps.
What about the iPad 3 (or 4 or 5...)?
At this time the additional features of the iPad3 are not meaningful enough for us to upgrade and the new lower price of the iPad2 make it even more attractive and accessible to us. As newer models of the iPad are released, we will have to consider the lowest version when we make our App and book choices. If we look at the iPhone as a model, as each new iPhone was released, the newest Apps and Operating system continued to function on older models. Just as we replace our faculty laptops every 3 years, we will need to consider a replacement schedule for our iPads. Students should be able to make it through grades 7-12 with no more than 2 iPad purchases.
Will students and faculty continue to need access to a laptop or desktop computer?At this time faculty will definitely continue to need laptops or desktops for word processing, printing and more complex computing tasks. For some students the iPad may be sufficient for their needs, but many will continue to need access to a computer.
Photo Credit: A Bit of How I Study on Flickr by wwward0