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


ps -

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.

Last edited by polarbear; 08/28/13 11:57 AM.