Those in favor of using iPads in the classroom argue:
1. Classrooms using SmartBoards, iPads and other tablets enhance the benefits of interactive instruction. They are compatible with online teaching and offer ways to collaborate on content creation. The touch interface of the iPad makes it easier for students to access websites, create dialogue and use databases to interact with each other when face-to-face contact is not possible. Students can communicate from different rooms or buildings (think of the impact on homework), and send information to each other with the click of a button.
2. iPads have become a common fixture in the media and in the job force. Without teaching and exposing children to the newest technology, we are putting them at a disadvantage when they apply for jobs and attend seminars in their future careers.
3. iPads allow students to have access to a wealth of information without having to carry heavy textbooks. Students can't claim "I accidentally left that book at home" or "I need to run to my locker". As a result, backpacks have become much lighter.
4. When a problem arises, students become part of the solution. Students often troubleshoot and resolve technology issues quicker then adults. With cutbacks in education, involving students in the help-desk benefits the students and the staff.
5. iPads make integrating cross-curricular lessons easy. For example, when teaching about the respiratory system in science, students can take the devices to gym class and use it to measure heart and breathing rates, then bring that information back into the labs. It has been the proven that the more you can relate curriculum to students lives the more they will understand it. iPads are tools that can easily be used to make learning much more personal and relevant.
6. iPads are more convenient. Schools have been using computers and laptops for a long time. When compared with these electronics the iPads (and other tablets) are lighter, less cumbersome, more portable and don't require schools to spend money pay for computing power that isn't needed.
7. iPads are better for the environment. iPads allow schools to use less paper (even go paperless) by promoting digital textbooks, saving the environment (and money).
8. iPads help get accurate data. The statistics in textbooks are most likely outdated by the time the book is published and ready for purchase. By using iPad's and other tablets, statistics are at the student's finger tips and updated down to the minute.
9. Animation aides in learning. Textbooks have few pictures, but when using an iPad instructors can immediately pull up video and pictures of just about any lesson, topic or concept. For many children, having auditory and visual representation of an idea helps them understand the material and commit it to memory. This is especially important when you have students who are visual learners.
10. Many iPad, iPhone, and iPod apps encourage children to engage in healthy competition. Many programs and websites track students progress. In some subjects, apps keep track of how many questions they have answered correctly, how many pages are read, etc. This type of system can turn learning into a game for many students and encourages them to beat their "high score". The best part is that no one besides the student and the teacher knows where they are functioning because progress records can be password protected. For children who struggle from learning disabilities, it allows students to work on their independent level and provides a challenge without labels or stigmas (no one needs to be aware of what they are doing on their personal small screen that can be used in any corner of the classroom).
Not everyone believes that iPads are appropriate to be used in the classroom. Some people feel that it's a tool that could be potentially dangerous for our educational system.
Those against using iPads in the classroom argue:
1. iPads provide a distraction. The new technology is so exciting that students have difficulty focusing on instruction with iPads in the classroom and/or the knowledge that they will be using them later in the day.
2. iPads can be used to cheat. Information can be stored or searched with the press of a button. Materials can also be sent directly from another person in an another location. It has been found that many adolescents have used iPads and iPhones to cheat on tests and quizzes.
3. The iPad and iPhones, as well as other tablets, can promote discrimination. It is an expensive piece of equipment and if students are allowed to bring them to school, this may offer a clear dividing factor between students who can and who cannot afford the devices.
4. They promote isolation. By using iPads, iPhones and other tablets, for teaching there can be a decline in group activities and conversations. If students spend too much time interacting through devices, they lose face-to-face socialization and interaction. Schools and education systems provide a place for students to acquire and practice social skills; however, iPads and iPhones have the potential to hinder these opportunities.
5. By using computers and laptops (versus iPads and iPhones) it is easier to "block" inappropriate Internet content. In addition to Wi-fi, iPads and iPhones can use "data". These "blocks" are vital to prevent children and adolescents from entering potentially harmful sites and accessing inappropriate material. iPads and iPhones can use "data" in addition to wifi.
6. By using the iPad or iPhone, it is difficult for a teacher to monitor how the child is understanding the material and if they are even following the lesson. Students may be more inclined to use devices to play video games (such as Candy Crush) during instruction time. Since it is so easy to switch from one app to another teachers and other educators may not be aware your child isn't paying attention.
7. Students don't learn to ask for help or advocate for themselves. An important life skill is learning how and when to ask for help and to be able to assert yourself. For many students this is a difficult lesson! With the introduction of iPads and iPhones, it's even easier to hide behind a screen and avoid asking for help.
8. There are health concerns for the amount of screen time. How much is too much? For many children, too much time in front of the glossy display can lead to headaches and sore eyes.
9. This form of technology can breed dependence. Students become accustomed to having information at their disposal (the touch of a button), that they are completely paralyzed when the system crashes or equipment fails. Many believe that children need to learn ways to research information manually (a book or a map will never "die" on you).
10. There is too much information online and it is difficult for young minds to make sense of what is accurate and what is not. By using iPads and iPhones there is so much information available, but a lot of it is inaccurate. It is tough for kids to decipher what is valid and what is not, but in a textbook the facts are accurately represented.
There are so many pros and cons for using these devices! So, where do you fall? Have we gained an amazing new educational tool or added a hurdle in the world of education?