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    #165618 - 08/27/13 10:20 AM iPads in school: I don't get it.
    Val Offline

    Registered: 09/01/07
    Posts: 3296
    Loc: California
    By now, we've all heard about schools spending a king's ransom on iPads. Well, maybe two or three kings and a few princesses, judging from those numbers. I don't get it, especially in light of huge budget problems.

    My kids use them in school. So far they've taken some pictures and not much else. Okay, it's only been one week, but my 11-year-old used an iPad last year, too, and I don't remember hearing much of anything about what he was learning on his iPad compared to his old-fashioned books.

    There's something to be said for exposing low-income kids to new technologies, but it seems to me that learning how to use important software packages like Office and the like should be a priority over an iPad. And what about offering classes on the basics of IT? That seems like a good idea.

    As I think about edu-fads over the last 40 or 50 years, one side of me is thinking that people learned geometry without much in the way of flashy technology (unless you count a compass as flashy). The other side of me is thinking that schools were failing quite well without the iPads.

    Please help me. Do iPads facilitate learning in a way that makes them worth their high sticker price? If so, how?

    #165624 - 08/27/13 10:32 AM Re: iPads in school: I don't get it. [Re: Val]
    ultramarina Offline

    Registered: 08/24/10
    Posts: 3428
    My husband and I were just talking about this the other night. I don't get it either, but then, I don't have an iPad. I read this, though, a while back, and thought it was interesting:

    #165625 - 08/27/13 10:34 AM Re: iPads in school: I don't get it. [Re: Val]
    1111 Offline

    Registered: 08/26/11
    Posts: 246
    I agree. I prefer the good old books. I guess I am not "with it".....:-) They have a trial year of IPads at DS's school this year. We'll see if it flies. Only a couple of classes for the tryout year. Not DS thankfully..

    #165629 - 08/27/13 10:42 AM Re: iPads in school: I don't get it. [Re: Val]
    HowlerKarma Offline

    Registered: 02/05/11
    Posts: 5181
    Well, I'm more cynical than most people about this.

    It's always about monetization.

    So follow the money. No, not the local budget. Goodness, no. That's small potatoes.

    No-- where is the REAL money in education/supply chain these days?

    It's in control of CONTENT. It's in licensing content-- not SELLING it.

    Licensing, see, takes money again and again from the same customers. Because they don't actually OWN what you're selling. They just "rent" it for a defined period.

    Software giants have recently figured this out, as well. That's why downloads have gotten SO much more popular. Hard-core DRM and built-in repeat customers.

    The better question might be why schools are falling for this (fairly obvious, IMO) marketing ploy.

    I mean, these are the same publishers that have been foisting awful textbooks on classrooms and curriculum selection committees for several decades at this point. If they can't generate reasonably good content over THAT time-scale, what on earth makes anyone think that they can do it with a faster-to-market series of products?

    So I have no real idea what the driving force is on the school side of things.

    Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.

    #165630 - 08/27/13 10:47 AM Re: iPads in school: I don't get it. [Re: Val]
    Irena Offline

    Registered: 05/26/12
    Posts: 1733
    I keep being told it will enable my son not have to write as much. Not sure how true that is but that is what I am told... So we are excited about that!

    Edited by Irena (08/27/13 11:00 AM)

    #165638 - 08/27/13 11:07 AM Re: iPads in school: I don't get it. [Re: Val]
    Zen Scanner Offline

    Registered: 07/13/12
    Posts: 1478
    Loc: NC
    Price per year per student licensing that exceeds the cost for purchasing an equivalent textbook is outrageous. There are packages that actually make fair use of the technology distribution model to take the cost down to significantly less per student per year vs. physical copies.

    In theory with an iPad a motivated student can follow a lecture and do enrichment work with the iPad. It's pretty tangible and engaging. Some of the reward based math games are cool. DS and I have played with casting technologies where a each student in a class can answer quiz questions during a lecture. In that way a teacher could get a quick guage of understanding levels.

    We got one as a lark at Christmas (trying to burn one overly generous relative's Christmas money without disrupting our plans.) I'm confident DS7 would've kept up a decent pace in math without it, but I don't think that in six months he would've taught himself math partly through algebra with a supporting understanding of statistics and a mental model of the core concepts of calculus without the iPad. He's torn through podcasts, videos, timed activities, 3d graphing applications, fractal simulators, physics simulators, chemistry simulators, etc.

    BUT, I think they are close to worthless in a classroom without self-starter kids or if the teachers are not getting full, consistent, and ongoing professional development on the use of the technology.

    #165642 - 08/27/13 11:19 AM Re: iPads in school: I don't get it. [Re: Val]
    polarbear Offline

    Registered: 09/29/11
    Posts: 3363
    To quote from the article ultramarina linked to above: "Are American public schools ready to recognize that it’s the adults and students around the iPads, not just the iPads themselves, that require some real attention?"

    My ds13 has used an iPad in school for over a year - all of the middle school students at his school are required to use an iPad. To be clear, and open and all that up front, he attends a private school and each family is required to provide the student's iPad. He is also 2e, so he's a kid who was already using his own laptop to produce most of his written work - but the iPads in the classroom are required for all the students, not just an accommodation for students with disabilities, and they are integrated into the classroom work in a big way. FWIW, I think they're great and they've been very useful and I think they are a bonus over laptops and they are a step forward. I'm a fan. Here's how they have been used at our school, and also a list of the general pros and cons parents and teachers have found with them:

    First, a few notes - our school does *not* use digital textbooks at this point in time. Each student has access to a school wifi network that is used for printing, email and online research.

    I'll also add that quite a few of the items on the list are things that *could* be done with laptops or desktop computers. The bonus for having an iPad per student is three-fold - they are less expensive than purchasing a laptop for every student (software is *much* less expensive), they are more portable than laptops (see notes below) and they allow a lot of flexibility in scheduling schoolwork - rather than having to only do online research or typing papers during a scheduled computer lab time or having to share a few computers per classroom between students.


    1) Routine word processing/etc that you would do in MSOffice/etc on a laptop or computer.

    2) Project presentations using integrated media (audio, pictures, text etc).

    3) Scheduling and planning via access to shared class online calendar.

    4) Literature - the school uses iBooks etc to supplement the limited book supply they have in the school's library.

    5) Research - the students do most of their research online. The convenient thing about having the iPads is that every student is online and can work independently at the same time, rather than relying on shared computer lab access.

    6) Productivity apps - there are a lot of apps (and more and more coming out all the time) that enhance productivity for students like my 2e ds who have challenges and need the apps - word prediction, graph-making, voice-to-text, text-to-voice etc. The interesting thing is, the students who *don't* have disabilities also use, enjoy and benefit from those same apps. My ds did not like voice-to-text on his laptop and probably would never have even considered using it on his iPad but right away last year a couple of the kids in class who *don't* have disabilities discovered it and started using it and my ds saw it was actually usable.

    7) Our students aren't required to have an iPad with a camera (the first version of iPads didn't have one) - but the cameras are used quite a bit for different types of tasks. Sometimes the kids take pictures of project work, sometimes they take pictures of what's written on the board. Having the capability to take a picture certainly isn't enough reason to justify purchasing iPads for students, but it's a nice bonus.

    8) Collaborative sharing - I can't remember the type of app that was used for this, but the students have an app that allows them to do what I can only describe as multi-media blog - they put together presentations which incorporate pictures + audio + text, and their fellow students can then add comments to each other's presentations.

    9) Communication - the students receive assignments through email, and they can turn in homework via email. Most of the kids like that setup much better than having to bring papers back and forth to school - and one thing about my ds' generation, at least in our area - they are very environmentally conscious, so they also appreciate having the choice of being somewhat paper-free (let's try not to think about the irony of the environmental impact of someday having to dispose of all the outdated electronics....) It has also enabled the children to communicate with each other outside of school in a way that works well for things like finding out what an assignment was if they aren't sure or asking for help from a fellow student - all the kids have to do is send out an email to their class group, and someone will answer it.

    10) Graphic organizers for project work.

    11) Note-taking - you can integrate pictures, audio, and text.


    * They are much less prone to breakage than a laptop. If you have one of the sturdy iPad cases, they can take accidental falls from desks etc.

    * They are more compact and lightweight than a laptop. They are easy to carry from class to class and don't take up much room on desktops or in lockers.

    * Software is inexpensive, and if you need an app for some purpose, you can almost always find one for free.


    * Some students will take advantage of the ability to web surf, play games etc when they should be studying or will become too obsessed with too much screen time (games etc). Those are issues that happened at home, primarily in families who hadn't already run into with other electronics and figured out how to handle them. Our teachers have provided info about gate-keeper apps to prevent access to sites you don't want your child visiting, and have provided good suggestions re how to manage use and screen time. I would also say that in the classroom, although the students use the iPads for almost all of their "written" work and for a lot of research etc - they are not spending a huge amount of time on their devices - the bulk of the time is still spent in project work with each other, discussions, listening to lessons explained by teachers etc.

    2) Cost of replacing if broken - you can buy insurance for them, and our teachers recommend it. That said, only one student in the last several years had an iPad break and that was in a bizarre accident. None have been broken by the minor accidents that can happen at home and around school. I will attest that I have personally dropped my own iPad more times than I can count, sometimes at an unintended high velocity, and it's working a-ok after several years of very heavy use.

    The largest con I see for public education is the cost. OTOH, textbooks cost a lot of money too, and become outdated quickly. I suspect that eventually the glitches that occur with online textbooks now are going to be a thing of the past and at that point tablets/iPads/etc *might* become economically feasible in a much larger way for the average public school.


    #165644 - 08/27/13 11:24 AM Re: iPads in school: I don't get it. [Re: master of none]
    polarbear Offline

    Registered: 09/29/11
    Posts: 3363
    Originally Posted By: master of none

    But the worst thing is that they give the kids IPADS and make parents sign that we will pay 700.00 in the event it is lost or stolen or damaged. My DS refused to take his home, so I got a similar contract that said I'd be responsible for it while it was at school at all times. NO WAY! How can I be responsible for a piece of school equipment. I refused to sign, and got the answer that "we were just seeing how many parents WOULD sign". Apparently I was the only one who balked.

    Our public elementary tried to pull the same thing on us when they offered to issue ds a laptop for his accommodations - it was an ancient laptop that wouldn't even hold charge, and they wanted us to sign to replace it at the cost of a *new* laptop to an individual purchaser if he happened to break it. Sooooo completely ridiculous!

    In the case of iPads, one of our families transferred in from another school district where students had school-issued iPads, and the cost of insurance through a program the school could purchase was actually rather low. Definitely not $700!


    #165645 - 08/27/13 11:29 AM Re: iPads in school: I don't get it. [Re: Irena]
    polarbear Offline

    Registered: 09/29/11
    Posts: 3363
    Originally Posted By: Irena
    I keep being told it will enable my son not have to write as much. Not sure how true that is but that is what I am told... So we are excited about that!

    Irena, it's really *really* been the best AT ever for my ds. Truly. He likes it sooo much better than using a laptop.


    #165672 - 08/27/13 03:12 PM Re: iPads in school: I don't get it. [Re: Val]
    HowlerKarma Offline

    Registered: 02/05/11
    Posts: 5181
    polarbear, I'm wondering-- which textbooks become outdated quickly?

    In social studies, I can certainly see how this is a problem, and also in technology related coursework.

    But in most math, literature, science, etc. classes, I guess I just don't see this as a problem of any kind. The rate of change there is VERY low, at least up to the undergraduate collegiate level.

    Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.

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