Why the iPad for Education?
This question has become a hot topic for a lot of blogs and news outlets that I follow. Some tout how much more students learn with the device and others warn against the overuse of the device. In the end, I’m pretty sure that this leaves wary school administrators and technology decision makers apprehensive about investing in the device. All of this noise distracts these well intentioned people from a fact that is right on Apple’s Education page:
iPad inspires creativity and hands-on learning with features you won’t find in any other educational tool – ona device that students really want to use. Powerful built-in apps and apps from the App Store let students engage with content in interactive ways, find information in an instant, and access an entire library wherever they go.
That is the holy grail of learning! The device does not hold any magical powers that makes its content anymore enriching than other means of content delivery. Students really want to use it! All you have to do is figure how to integrate what they need to learn in a way that want to learn it.
Miles MacFarlane is writing on his blog about his experiences with using the online game Minecraft in his classroom. I think the following should really stick out to educators that are struggling to get some of their students to engage:
A small group of normally disengaged students were suddenly front and centre in the classroom sharing their video gaming expertise, leading the way with their considerable skill set using Minecraft. I even had one of them ask for the most challenging Greek structure to recreate because he wanted something hard to do!
If your desire is to get the disengaged students engaged you need to find those things that they want to do. The iPad represents one of those things. Miles’ is using Minecraft which is another one of those things. It doesn’t matter what his delivery system is, he is using something that his students want to use.
For those wanting to know more about what the device can do for their students, I suggest getting one of the devices and finding ways of integrating it into what you are already doing in your classroom. One of our teachers is using the app “Splashtop” to remotely control her smartboard with her iPad. I had expected a great response from the teacher because of how easy it would make things for her. What I had not taken into consideration was the spike in participation in the class. The smartboard is cool but still involves walking up to the board, in front of the class. The iPad is personal. They just want to get their hands on it. While I was loading the app and accompanying software the students had begun playing a grammar game that required that they go up to the board and place words into the noun or verb categories. They had to move the word from the bottom into the proper spot on the board. Participation was good. When I handed the iPad to Mrs. McClure she asked who wanted to be next and every hand in the room went up.
They just want to get their hands on it.