There’s an article in the Orlando Sentinel which tells of a school district adding 1750 iPads next year. The article is definitely worth reading in its entirety, linked here.
What I find interesting are the negative comments that follow every iPad initiative. Here is a list from either the article itself or the comment feed:
- It will get lost or stolen
- IT won’t be able to support 1750 devices
- Failed work excuses: “My iPad wouldn’t charge, the app wouldn’t work”
- Distraction to learning in the classroom (games/texting during class)
- No money for education, how can we afford this?
- Short life of technology, either due to new releases or hard use by users
- Should have done a pilot first
- iPads will be sold for drug money
- Anti-Apple rants (should be HP or Android)
- No multi-tasking or poor multi-tasking
- Students don’t learn differently today than they did when I was in school
- Need to be tethered to a computer
- No Adobe Flash
- Teachers did not choose the iPads, administration did
- Kids can’t read or write, so how will the iPad help them?
- Textbooks are less expensive
That’s a substantial list, applicable to most technology initiatives in education. Some of them have merit–schools do need to have a plan regarding how to handle lost, stolen, and damaged devices. Schools also need have to have plans regarding how to deal with students that are off task, jailbreak, or install inappropriate apps. Most schools have an Internet firewall that keep kids off of YouTube and Facebook during the day (although You Tube can also be used for good purposes as well). Flash has become less and less of an issue as HTML 5 becomes standard, and even Adobe has released Flash converters for developers. iOS 5 will solve some additional issues, including the need for devices to be tethered and updated via a computer. An examination of the schools that did pilot studies in 2010-2011 shows that the majority of students and staff want to continue to use the devices. Perhaps a future blog post could examine or list the positives of iPad/technology initiatives.
The most interesting item in the article was the statement that Florida will require all schools to provide all materials in digital format by 2015. Logically, students will need devices on which to read those digital materials. And does that requirement also include music and art classes? I found a PDF on the Florida Department of Education Website that seems to indicate that schools will go all digital.