Saturday, March 24, 2012

Arguments for the iPad in Education

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


jenhegna said...

I am not sure what grade level you are looking at, but using the finger as an input device, especially for the younger children, is great! Ever watch a kindergartner click CTL-ALT-Delete? Boot time and battery charge time is also a huge time saver. I like the idea of no hinges or other parts that can break or wear out.

Bob Noƫ said...

I am curious on how you plan to prepare your teachers to use the iPads. I know some much of this intuitive, but how can you maximize learning with the iPad and determine learning outcomes.

Ryan Folmer said...

We are in a similar position at my school in considering a 1:1 progam at my school (an all boys Catholic HS). We are also leaning toward iPad. I look forward to seeing where things go and sharing experiences.

Jacqui said...

Good point about the distraction of the laptop top. IPads do seem much less intrusive.

Umm, what's a 'Harkness' school?

Becky said...

I'm glad that you mentioned the form factor playing a role in collaboration. I think that the idea that it sits flat on the desk instead of creating a barrier between the teacher/student or between students is something that often isn't considered.

This article does a good job explaining why schools should go with the iPad rather than an android tablet:

I wonder, do you ever use the iPad with a stylus? I think a lot of educational opportunity is lost when you only use the finger for input.

Anonymous said...

Have you read this?
A list of questions to ask before iPad implementation.

Liz B Davis said...

Thanks everyone for all of your comments!

Bob - I'm working out some PD plans. I have discovered that giving teachers iPads when their students don't have them isn't very effective.

Jacqui - Harkness is a method of leading a discussion around a table. It was invented at Exeter. You can learn more about it here:

Becky thanks for the link I will check that out. Yes I do use a stylus and all of the boys using iPads in Geometry class are using them.

Mrs Treadway - I have seen the ipadsineducation ning. That is a very helpful site. Thanks for sharing it.

Homework Help said...

The introduction of technology such as iPads has become inevitable in education. Already iBooks and iAuthor has created a big stir in the education sector, with experts stating that it could be the next giant leap that education has to do.

Miss L said...

I have only just started reading your blog so forgive me if I am asking questions that have been addressed previously. I am wondering if there is a program in place to track how teachers are implementing iPads in the classroom? I know that there are some pilot programs in our area where classrooms have been given iPads to use with their students and some teachers who are not comfortable using the technology are simply giving "iPad time" where students can use the iPad for whatever they want simply because the teacher knows they have to use them. Usually this results in the students going on games when there are so many other options for them to explore. I know that PD opportunities will help teachers know how to use technology effectively but I am thinking that some students may even see them as just a device to be used for games.

JJacobs said...

I am IT Coordinator at a K-8 school in Los Angeles. We gave the faculty iPads last August and bought a cart of 30 for the school to share. We are going 1:1 Fall 2012. This method actually worked out very well. PD is key. We brought in teachers who are already using the iPads in their school and help others see how it works. Had them come in when students were there and teach a lesson in every grade. Buzz from students and faculty was palpable. Very jnspiring. iPads are so adaptable and useful in so many different ways you don't realize it until you have the, accessible on a daily basis.

Amanda Warner EDM310 Class Blog said...

Hi Ms. Davis,

I really enjoyed reading this post! I have never heard of 1:1 programs, but you gave an easy understanding of what it is. You shared many great thoughts on educational technology. I think it is such a cool idea to have a 1:1 program using iPad's.
I don't have an iPad but many of my friends and family members do and everyone I know that has one loves it because they are so adaptable and useful in multiple ways. People with iPad's continue to learn things from this amazing tool daily. I hope to purchase one soon!
Under Why the iPad? you said, "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," as a current college student I couldn't agree more.

Thanks for your post and good luck to you!

-Amanda Warner

Heather Weaver said...

I am very interested in the concept of using iPads in Education. Our system currently using Windows operating systems in every school. I am enrolled at the University of South Alabama in EDM 310. This class is required to renew my teaching certificate. There are a few pilot programs using iPads at the elementary level that have been successful thus far.
I work at the high school level and could honestly see this being very successful for our students. Not only to lighten their load, but also to encourage their uniqueness and their desire to be engaged in all things technical. You make valid points regarding the accessibility and reliability of the iPad versus a laptop. I will continue to monitor your blog to see your progress and see how you handle any problems that arise. How exciting!

Thank you for the information!
Heather Weaver
Heather Weaver's EDM 310 Blog

Aneta D said...

The iPad integration you are talking about is a great idea and of course educational tool for the classroom. My school has currently set up an iPad pilot program for the eighth grade class. I do not teach eighth grade so I cannot speak from experience but only from my outside observations thus far. I am getting curious about the integration of the iPad because there are talks within my school about expanding this program to more classrooms and grade levels. This is very exciting because my students are in the digital age and schools need to step up and catch up to where technology is today. Integrating technology like the iPad will allow students to learn at a different pace and in a different way. It is very exciting not only for the students but also for the teachers. However, I find that this program is twofold as there are some amazing benefits to using the iPad (some of which you mention in your post) but there are also concerns that have arose while using this technology. As you stated in your blog it is crucial for students to be able to get answers and have access to information at their fingertips. It is also less materials for them to carry and loose, such as paper, pencils, textbooks so that is a definite plus. But what happens when these technologies crash? Since all of the students materials and information is held on the iPad they would lose access to everything if their iPad breaks and therefore they cannot participate for the day. Or if the internet in the school crashes and there is no access to the web are there apps or software that can be installed in order for the lesson to be able to go on? Another question or concern that I have is how in a classroom of twenty to thirty students do we the teachers monitor what websites the students are on, if they are playing games on apps and so forth. I am getting eager to explore the use of the iPad in the classroom but it also seems a bit overwhelming. From your blog and post I gathered that you have some experience with technology information and integration. Would you have any insights or suggestions on how to avoid certain issues or problems that might arise? Also, as a teacher with no experience in using iPad within the classroom are there websites or resources that I can use to get aquatinted with the iPad?

Bill Campbell said...

Regarding Philips Exeter, iPads, and the Harkness method, they are piloting iPads in a couple of classes and have recently published an article about the experience so far:

Liz Davis said...

Bill I have seen that article. It i s an interesting one. Thanks for sharing.

Kristina Kaufman said...

I think this is a really interesting discussion. The consideration of buying iPads or Laptops for the classroom is becoming a more important reality. I think the portability and especially the lighter weight feature, as mentioned, is a benefit to the iPad. To really make the iPad practical for typing will be to add the keyboard to the purchase. In this way, students can more easily type and access documents. One comment brought up is the issue of training. It will be important for teachers to have knowledge on how to best leverage tools like the iPad for learning purposes rather than just because they are the newest thing on the market. The students’ training is just as important. But I do believe that the possibilities for engaging in really creative and powerful projects are possible with technology, especially the iPad. It is exciting the prospect of such in education in the 21st century.

austinhduggan said...

I totally support ipads in education. It's just wonderful to see the kids' faces when using them! The app I'm using now is Nearpod, as I said in previous post. There's no need for clickers because it has lots of features, including whiteboards, clickers, and more. you should see it for yourself at their website oh, and it's free :)

Magali said...

Funny to think that a generation ago Apple computers were strongly tied to k-12 education.

Megan said...

Implementing a 1:1 program in your school will bring enormous returns as long as the iPads are used correctly and teachers are given plenty of instruction and guidance on how to use them in their classrooms. This is something that is often overlooked. Many times, teachers are given a single day of training and then expected to know the best ways to use the iPads in their classroom. Instead, consider having weekly (or monthly) sessions where teachers can share how they are using the iPads in their classrooms and what they have found to work.

Another important thing to consider before adding iPads to your school is how information will be shared to student's iPads. iPads are not designed to be used in a network and as such it can be difficult to control the dissemination of information. In order to make the iPads truly valuable, you need a way for teachers to distribute resources such as lecture notes, videos or homework assignments as well as retrieve them when they are no longer needed.

Additionally, having a 1:1 environment means students are able to learn wherever they are. If they are able to take the iPads home with them, then they can work on assignments and readings as they travel to and from school or even when they have down time between classes.

Best of luck on your decision and possible switch to becoming a 1:1 school.

Igor said...

Why the iPad (and not a laptop)? Both are good. It depends on software you use. For example, math practice site works perfectly on iPad, PCs, and even IWB (interactive whiteboard). For iPad lovers the site proposes eBooks with the same content. I think the software producers must adapt it to different platforms.

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Maqbool Ahmad said...

For a variety of reasons–fatigue from testing, well-intentioned and self-administered pressure google techtalks, or the constant churn of otherwise good ideas that simply didn’t produce test-measured learning results–education is not just ready for a change, but hungry and desperate for it, from administrators to business leaders, parents to most importantly students. And the iPad is among the most kind-spirited changes in decades social media.