The iPad is taking a lesson from the iPod and beginning to seize a place in US schools, some of which are beginning trials to test the efficacy of providing the Apple tablets to kids, even while New York City orders thousands of iPads for its schools.
NY Times informs us that “The New York City public schools have ordered more than 2,000 iPads, for $1.3 million; 300 went to Kingsbridge International High School in the Bronx, or enough for all 23 teachers and half of the students to use at the same time.”
This reflects a trend across the US education sector which is attempting to find a way to go paperless. Roslyn High School on Long Island handed out 47 iPads on December 20 to students and teachers in two humanities classes. The eventual aim is to provide iPods to 1,100 of its students .
Apple is boosting the trend, working with textbook publishers on instructional programs and sponsoring iPad workshops for administrators and teachers.
The tablets are used to replace textbooks, as correspondence machines, and as a means to create and return assignments. The notion is that by using tools kids love, pupil attainement takes a boost, use of such tools is also thought to boost outside school learning activity.
However, as the New York Times observes, “Educators, for instance, are still divided over whether initiatives to give every student a laptop have made a difference academically.”
Some argue that the iPad may have the whizz-bang factor you might seek to impress children, but the real issues of teaching remain. Others counter the device is a powerful and versatile tool that can be of use in education, take this book-length analysis of best practises in using iPods in Italian language learning, for example.
Similar reactions greeted the introduction of the iPod into classrooms. Then an Australian research project at the Victoria Department of Education found use of the devices generated, “Improvements in all curriculum areas and also in behavior, motivation and responsibility by the end of the project.”
According to teachers, half the students reported that they learned better by doing things and liked to be active learners.
The size and portability of the device also boost usage, and that’s particularly interesting in light of Forrester’s recent report claiming adult iPad users may rush to upgrade to iPad 2.0, passing their existing device onto their children.
Multimedia savviness also boosts the appeal of these devices: the ability to pinch and zoom into visual assets was part of the secret behind the success of the iPod touch.
Chris Van Wingerden, vice president at dominKnow once explained, “The ability to zoom in and out of web content means that the experience of taking a course online is so much more intuitive than the experience on many other mobile devices.”
Following a small iPad experiment, Scott Wolfe, the principal of Fouth Mountain Elementary School observes, “I think this could very well be the biggest thing to hit school technology since the overhead projector.”
Apple meanwhile remains Europe’s biggest education supplier on strength of its joined-up approach to solutions provision in the sector.
“Apple is committed to education, we have a dedicated and experienced team, and we provide not just product, but solutions,” Apple’s director of EMEA education markets, Herve Marchet has previously stressed. “I believe we are relevant to the market.”