iPads in the Classroom

From USAToday:

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A half-hour after they got their assignment, several of Katie Gregg’s second-graders still were at their desks, headphones plugged into their iPads, reading along with “The Princess and the Frog” and answering questions about the story on a worksheet.

But those who were finished were not waiting for their peers.

Sam found a spot against the wall and used his iPad to record himself reading the fairy tale aloud. Brock chose a different story from his iPad and was answering third-grade-level questions on reading comprehension. Another classmate was finding words from a set of seven letters on an iPad app called Chicktionary Coop.

Meanwhile, their teacher and groups of three students at a time were engaged in some low-tech word identification with paper flash cards.

Within two years, every K-2 classroom in the Sioux Falls School District will look like Gregg’s room at R.F. Pettigrew Elementary. Each student will be assigned a $499 iPad for school use, while those in grades 3-12 get $279 Google Chromebooks, at a total initial cost of $7.3 million. It’s known as a 1:1 initiative.

The school district’s announcement had some residents bristling at the cost of the devices, which will be paid for by local property taxes. Expected to last four years before they are replaced, the technology will cost close to $2 million for each year they are used; the district will spend about as much on the wireless devices in the coming years as they’ll spend on textbooks.

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  • TomH

    ah, education does evolve. . . I was in college and they told me I was going to #### in a hand basket because I was starting to use a calculator for much of my work instead of a slide rule. . . keep their interest, they will choose to keep learning.

  • No thanks.

  • My PhD is in educational technology and like all other areas of instruction, it is not the technology that makes the difference, it is how the teacher uses the technology. As long as instruction is delivered didactically, the full power of technology in education will never be utilized. I am not against mobile technologies in the classroom. I’m simply observing that the teacher is still a critical variable in the classroom (for good or ill).

  • TJJ

    Can be a very good thing, that supplements and reinforces teaching, or it can be an easy way out, used to keep students busy and quiet. Holds much positive promise, and much potential negatives. Students can and will use them inapropriately too if allowed to do so. In one school I regularly work at, all students have laptops and we regularly have to keep them off You Tube and music sites and email/texting/IM, etc. Some days I feel they create more problems in the classroom than they are worth.

  • Dan

    Kevin and TJJ make good points.

    Not to be too cynical but give them enough time and they’ll be surfing Reddit while the teacher is up front. I’d also like to see some transparency on the deal made between the administrators and the supplier.