Kids and iPads: How Will They Impact Schools and Colleges?

After watching a young relative use the iPad, I had to think hard. This child can’t really read, but he used it to negotiate a story for himself.

Even more interesting was watching him learn to use a digital camera, looking into the lens and taking pictures of his eye and so on.

Amazing that he can take pictures and access an iPad to have it tell him a story. He still likes to have stories told to him (he likes being held) and sometimes enjoys passively looking at something on television. But his passion is for interactivity.

Bruce Newman, in “Rise of the iKids: Schools Test iPads in Classrooms“* (MercuryNews, 12.14.10), says that “iPads — the Apple of almost every adolescent’s eye — are being provided to students at several Bay Area public and private schools this year, including Hillbrook, which claims to be the only K-8 school in America using tablet computers in class and sending them home. This has led to a lot of 12-year-olds swanning around the wooded hillside campus, talking to their iPads” (MercuryNews, 12.14.10).

Our children are growing up digital and wired. Some schools are beginning to accommodate them. How will this new generation impact our nation’s schools and colleges? What do you think?

* Webcite alternative.

5 Responses

  1. I have a colleague whose kids go to a middle school which is a charter school. Each student got a laptop (not sure what kind). She said that she is not sure how much they impact her kids’ learning. However, the kids are on Skype constantly with their friends from school, building those social bonds that are so important to youngsters. Is the day of the phone is going, too? ;-)

  2. Lynn, I think you’ve latched on to the edges of the next page in communications. When we turn that leaf, increasingly portable, inexpensive, and powerful devices will replace phones, notebooks, still and video cameras, audio and video players, etc. It’ll be all-in-one. Wi-fi access will be nearly universal and free or inexpensive. We’ll all be able to talk with and see, live and asynchronously, everyone else with these devices.

    Services that now require F2F interaction will go the way of public telephone booths. Service and business models will change dramatically to accommodate and take advantage of the new tech. And the changes will spill over into schools and colleges.

    At that time, today’s iPad will be a clunker in comparison. With that kind of power in everyone’s hands, I think our views on education and its place in the world will radically change.

    The web is rapidly erasing the geographical boundaries that separate nations and people, and I believe this e-world will begin to define the real world in ways that we can’t even begin to imagine.

    Just as we on the ETCJ staff have come together, virtually, from so many different countries and states to work as one, tomorrow’s students and educators will also come together in radically different networks for the purpose of teaching and learning.

    And all this will be made possible by seemingly “simple” gadgets as the iPad. -Jim S

  3. Students working independently need motivation, access, and good materials. The iPad and teachers provide the first two. As an ed software developer we think that the third element, the really effective materials, will come when educational Apps (short chunks of highly interactive learning) come together with ebook forms of well produced textbooks or equivalent. That really could change education as the students take the initiative and decide to make progress at their own pace. Scary for teachers though…

  4. David, your comment — “really could change education as the students take the initiative and decide to make progress at their own pace” — makes me realize that a huge shift occurs when we add the electronic dimension to education.

    Up until recently, the focus had to be on the teacher because s/he was the only interactive medium in the classroom. For students, it was like viewing the entire learning process through a funnel, with the teacher as the only visible element at the narrow end.

    With the web, we’ve turned the funnel around with the wide end taking in the world and the narrow end aimed at the student. In this model, the classroom and teacher are small and potentially negligible elements. -Jim S

  5. Jim,

    Absolutely. It also promotes the ability of an able student to share learning with less able friends as showing something on an iPad is acceptable. The challenge is to the traditionally minded teacher who will wish to restrict access so that students do not ‘finish the book’ before the end of the school year. David

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