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    #165741 - 08/28/13 08:41 AM Re: iPads in school: I don't get it. [Re: Val]
    Dude Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/04/11
    Posts: 2856
    Originally Posted By: Val
    Actually, your message highlights the problem: what is the actual advantage of an iPad, specifically? If it can't be measured, what does this mean about the value of the device in a classroom?


    What's the actual advantage of a spatula? It depends on what you intend to do with it. It's ideal for flipping things, can be a scraper or stirrer in a trice, can be somewhat limited at scooping things, is absolutely useless as a scrubber, and if you've already used it on food, can be a disaster as a back scratcher.

    So... iPad. It's a tool. Its utility depends entirely on how you intend to use it.

    And that's why its value can't be directly measured, because there will be differences in how it's used... varying by district, teacher, student, and parent.

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    #165743 - 08/28/13 08:55 AM Re: iPads in school: I don't get it. [Re: Val]
    kcab Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/02/07
    Posts: 1603
    Loc: Sparta, apparently
    I doubt that studies will find improved outcomes. Or rather, initial studies *will* but over time the effect will diminish as a wider swath of teachers use the technology (any technology). That's my prediction anyway, apply it wherever you will. Quality of instruction will always be more important, though I don't fault teachers at all for investigating new technology and techniques - some uses may well turn out to be worth the effort.

    I want to make two points:
    1) Instead of likening iPads or other computing platforms to telephones, a better analogy might be to watches. Remember when digital watches first became mainstream (well, *I* do)? For a time it looked like the analog watch was going to be wiped off the face of the earth. But, because analog and digital watches each have areas where they are better than the other, both have survived.

    I think that's largely because the dimensionality of an analog clock is different from that of digital - more types information are displayed at a glance. I see the same thing being true of physical textbooks vs digital.

    2) Media choice should match the desired time permanence of information. I consider digital information to be more ephemeral than paper books - though of course either can be destroyed. I think digital is a great way to store certain school projects! Not so good for something that I might want to refer back to in 25 years.

    I guess elementary school textbooks meet the second point, but I think they fail the first. I love ereaders for certain books - those which are meant to be read sequentially. With textbooks, one tends to move back and forth through the pages, referring to different sections, which is why I don't like digital textbooks.

    _________________________
    kcab

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    #165745 - 08/28/13 09:07 AM Re: iPads in school: I don't get it. [Re: Dude]
    Val Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/01/07
    Posts: 3296
    Loc: California
    Originally Posted By: Dude
    So... iPad. It's a tool. Its utility depends entirely on how you intend to use it.

    And that's why its value can't be directly measured, because there will be differences in how it's used... varying by district, teacher, student, and parent.


    Well...I suppose that I often forget that as a scientist, I've learned how important it is to be able to prove that a claim is valid. I forget that most people don't have that level of understanding, and it's definitely a struggle for many people in my fields to convince others that evidence is key. Just because something seems great doesn't mean it works as advertised.

    Basically, in serious science and serious engineering, you have to demonstrate that Shiny Thing X is what you claim it is. Education doesn't seem to hobble itself with this unpleasantry (whole language reading is great!! grin).

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    #165747 - 08/28/13 09:33 AM Re: iPads in school: I don't get it. [Re: Val]
    Bostonian Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/14/10
    Posts: 2638
    Loc: MA
    Originally Posted By: Val

    Actually, your message highlights the problem: what is the actual advantage of an iPad, specifically?

    A math textbook on an iPad could present problems after each section and instantly correct the answers, saving teachers from the chore of doing so. A chemistry or physics textbook could have simulations, and a biology textbook could have illustrations and videos.

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    #165748 - 08/28/13 09:35 AM Re: iPads in school: I don't get it. [Re: Val]
    ultramarina Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/24/10
    Posts: 3428
    Quote:
    With textbooks, one tends to move back and forth through the pages, referring to different sections, which is why I don't like digital textbooks.


    This. DD isn't allowed to bring home any textbooks, but we can refer to her math book as an online text. It's a clunky interface, which doesn't help, but for me online textbooks are just a drag. It's the same reason I don't buy ebook versions of cookbooks or reference books. I want to flippy flippy fasty fasty. I don't know--maybe the interface just needs to get better, but I can't be the only one who prefers the physicality of a book in these situations? DD didn't like the digital book, either, for all that she is supposed to be a digital native or whatever.

    I do love my ereader, mind.

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    #165749 - 08/28/13 09:39 AM Re: iPads in school: I don't get it. [Re: Val]
    ultramarina Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/24/10
    Posts: 3428
    Bostonian, those are good examples. I have almost no experience with iPads so I actually appreciate the real-life examples.

    Despite the way I sound, I am not a Luddite. We actually do plan to get a tablet sometime fairly soon, and the kids will also get their own laptop in the relatively near future. We will probably have to break down and get smartphones, too, because one is basically expected to have one these days. My husband keeps encountering this at work. I really am concerned about this, though, because my work follows me around enough as it is. I don't actually want to get emails when out of the house.

    Boy, though, my kids are not getting iPads at their school anytime soon. Ha ha ha. It is to laugh.

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    #165751 - 08/28/13 10:03 AM Re: iPads in school: I don't get it. [Re: Irena]
    syoblrig Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/18/11
    Posts: 329
    Originally Posted By: Irena
    Originally Posted By: Kerry
    Basically it was saying that when we use an electronic devise for writing, or doing math, or even reading our brains are less actively involved in the process. When we write, for example, our brain has to be actively involved in the process because it has to not only hold the pen it also has to move it in the correct direction over and over again while another part of the brain is remembering what to write. Granted, this takes a very short amount of time, however, it is still there none the less. However, when we are simply typing keys on a computer that section of the brain that controls the hand/arm muscles is not activated and therefore a large part of the connections that the brain makes about information are no longer being made. This same effect was there when students were reading books on an electronic devise rather than holding a book in their hands.


    I can't tell you how sad statements like this coming from an educator makes me. As a mother of a child who has problems with writing but who LOVES to write stories and poetry, I can tell you first hand this is bull-[SPAM]. He gives up and checks out (and becomes sad and despondent) when he has to physically write with his hands but he is actively engaged and learning like crazy when he can use a computer. If he had teachers/parents with this sort of mindset his creativity and drive would have been lost completely.


    I'm also the parent of a highly gifted kid with dyslexia and dysgraphia, I can say that technology is what opened the doors for my son's reading and writing. Without technology, accessing reading, and putting words to paper with a pencil was so much work, he gave up and would write as little as possible.

    With an iPad or Kindle, he is able to make the words bigger on a screen, which makes reading less tedious for him-- something that's not possible with books, obviously. He's used a Kindle at school for reading for the past 3 years.

    He's just started using speech to text technology to get the first draft of his writing assignments on paper, and then he goes through and does the corrections and editing as needed. His writing is dramatically better, and his essays contain much more detail because he's not so worried about figuring out how to spell (which he will never be good at, even though he's become a good writer).

    This year, both my boys are going to a STEM middle school where every kid gets their own laptop. They won't have text books, and most of their tests will be on the computer and graded immediately. That way the teacher will know by the end of the class period whether there are students who need extra help to understand a concept. So no kid will ever have to wait a week to find out they misunderstood a key concept.

    I think the issue of iPads or other technology in the classroom is in training teachers how to make them effective educational tools, rather than toys.

    ETA: My DYS/non 2e son is a much better writer on the computer as well as my 2e son. So having a laptop in class will improve his educational experience and output.


    Edited by syoblrig (08/28/13 10:10 AM)

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    #165757 - 08/28/13 10:38 AM Re: iPads in school: I don't get it. [Re: Val]
    Val Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/01/07
    Posts: 3296
    Loc: California
    I also like physical textbooks, especially for mathematics, but I also have a few in PDF format. There's something to be said for being able to carry 4 big textbooks in a device that's a few millimeters thick and about as big as a medium-sized envelope. I have a tablet I use for reading, and prefer it to paper books when I'm reading novels. This is primarily because I don't have to bring more stuff into my house and also because I can carry a library in my handbag. Adjusting the text size, having a built-in dictionary, and web access are also good. Web access is nice when I want to know a bit more about something mentioned in a book.

    But for textbooks, flipping back and forth between pages is cumbersome at best in a large PDF document. HTML or similar is better, provided I'm not paying an annual license fee.

    One weakness I see is that questions in electronic format are always multiple choice. When students don't have to write out answers that are then graded, a lot of teaching and learning opportunities are lost. IMO, this is a significant weakness of electronic learning systems as practiced today.

    FWIW, some of the messages here have convinced me that iPads may have classroom value for specific cases, though I'm not sure if they're better than (cheaper, etc.) laptops. But I do also think that their value needs to be proven, both for 2E-type problems and especially for the general student population.


    Edited by Val (08/28/13 10:40 AM)
    Edit Reason: More detail added

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    #165761 - 08/28/13 11:22 AM Re: iPads in school: I don't get it. [Re: Val]
    Dude Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/04/11
    Posts: 2856
    A pdf with properly organized Bookmarks is easier to flip around in than any textbook, or an HTML publication. It's just that there are a great many publishers of pdfs who don't take the time to do it.

    The problem of multiple choice can be solved by allowing write-in answers, and having the teachers review them. The technical challenges in this are not great.

    Again, it all comes down to how people use the tool.

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    #165765 - 08/28/13 11:51 AM Re: iPads in school: I don't get it. [Re: Val]
    polarbear Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/29/11
    Posts: 3363
    Originally Posted By: Val

    One weakness I see is that questions in electronic format are always multiple choice. When students don't have to write out answers that are then graded, a lot of teaching and learning opportunities are lost. IMO, this is a significant weakness of electronic learning systems as practiced today.


    While this may be happening in some places, I just wanted to mention that this has *not* happened at my ds' school - I haven't seen one instance of the iPads being used with a multiple choice format.

    I also wanted to add - I mentioned that my ds in my original reply not because of the benefits the iPad (and other technologies) have had for his challenges, but to point out that many of the apps and methodologies available on the iPad that are of great benefit to him - are also being used *routinely* and benefitting the totally non-challenged kids in his middle school also. I use a lot of the things that he needs on the iPad because they make *my* work more efficient (online dictionaries, word prediction, spell correct etc).

    I totally agree that you can't take something like the iPad (or any technology, or any type of in-the-moment-idea) and just throw it into a school and expect it to work. You need a reason to do it, a well thought-out plan, and the budget to support it. I offered up my one example where iPads are fully integrated into the classroom and I (as a parent) see it as a success, as an example of how iPads can be used in education and why they can work and some teachers might want to use them. I'm very happy our middle school uses them - I do think they add value and they offer opportunities for learning that are unique and of benefit. But we're a small private school with teachers who are motivated, knowledgable and excited about the unique ways they can use the technology. We are lucky to not have worries about theft. Our much larger (and significantly more challenged in many ways) public school district isn't looking at spending millions of dollars they don't have on iPads, but they are exploring many different ways to incorporate more and more technology in all classrooms. I also think that's a good thing. It's not misguided - they have IT experts as a key part of the process, they seek teacher input, they offer training, and they measure data and go about the testing of different technologies systematically and report back to the public. It's expensive. It's also eye-opening to look at the amount of $ our district spends on textbooks, etc.

    Anyway, fwiw, I am a scientist and I totally "get" the need to back up claims with proven data. OTOH, I think in reality intuition and creativity are significant in the history of scientific discoveries. If you held back iPads out of all classrooms for 20 years attempting to scientifically prove the iPad made a difference, you wouldn't need those studies when they were done - iPads will be a thing of the past by then. Education is about the teacher, about curriculum content, about providing opportunities to expose our children to new ideas. Textbooks are a gateway and tool for that. So are iPads. I can't imagine putting together a scientific study every time a school district wanted to change out a math textbook. I would rather trust the math teachers who use the textbook when they say "This textbook is outdated. I'd like to try textbook___ instead."

    OK, off my soapbox smile

    polarbear

    ps -

    Quote:
    FWIW, some of the messages here have convinced me that iPads may have classroom value for specific cases, though I'm not sure if they're better than (cheaper, etc.) laptops. But I do also think that their value needs to be proven, both for 2E-type problems and especially for the general student population.


    The value of iPads for 2e-type problems is being proven every single darned day in the US as kids with many different types of disabilities are using them and as AT folks are testing out new apps etc. Even if a study eventually showed that iPads do *not* provide "meaningful" help for dysgraphic students, I can assure you that as a parent of a dysgraphic student, what I've seen happen at home and at school for my ds is all that I need to understand that yes, the iPad has value for my ds' handwriting challenge. There are quite a few professionals out there (our neuropsych, the OTs we've worked with, teachers, etc) who have seen the same benefits. I didn't find any of ds' apps and software on my own, I found it all through networking and researching and asking questions of professionals who would not have made the recommendations if they hadn't personally seen value in what they were recommending. So I don't really understand the thought that the value "needs to be proven" for 2e? Just my experience, but it has already been proven, from what I've seen.


    Edited by polarbear (08/28/13 11:57 AM)

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