Engadget is reporting again on the LA School Districts purchase of iPads for its 640,000 students. The going price per iPad + curriculum materials, they report, is $678, which somehow is accounted in the 30 millions reportedly being paid for the devices. I'm sure you've read about the purchase or heard about it in the news.
I own an iPad Mini and once had an iPad 2. iPads are, without a doubt, amazing devices because they are so easy to use, secure, elegant, light and have a ton of available apps. But, do iPads produce significant enhancement to the education of these children to warrant such a purchase? Let's try to get an answer by making a little Pro/Con list.
- iPads are easy to use and have a very, very low learning curve
- Tablets, especially iPads, are cool and will make kids enjoy classes more
- There are a ton of learning apps (games, tutorials, etc) available for the iPad
- iBooks, which are interactive textbooks, are best experienced on an iPad and can replace the usual hard-copy/print version of the text
- With no heavy textbooks to carry, students are going to have healthier school experiences (bad for the back and more)
- Students will have access to information on the web
- Centralize where the student has all of their information to study/practice
- Providing the device creates a tech equity amongst students while in school
- The lack of a decent stylus (one that really matches writing on paper with a pen) makes the device a content utilization tool and hampers any attempt to let the student create their own knowledge
- Students will have access to information on the web... as above, but now we must realize that sometimes information needs to be known or at least thought about. Googling everything isn't a great plan.
- The curriculum will still be textbook driven. That is, there doesn't seem to be any innovation happening here in the use of the iPad that would change the paradigm of how these students learn and how they are taught.
Before I give an opinion as to what the list above indicates, I'll let it simmer a few days and hope to get some additional pros and cons that I have missed. So, please comment below on any additions you believe belong in my lists.