On Friday, February 3rd, the Little Falls School District held a leadership training session on “Project REAL,” which is centered around the use of iPads in the classroom. They make a point to say, “It’s not about the device,” but honestly, it is about the device.
There are several opportunities to attend such sessions across the state this year, including a session at Minnetonka later this month (sold out, by the way). Our school had no staff development funds this year, so I have been unable to attend any of these sessions.
On a positive note, another local blogger/former educator/involved mom had the opportunity to attend the session at Little Falls, and writes about her experience here (a really nice summary of a 3.5 hour presentation):
If you want to watch the whole presentation, Little Falls has made it available online: http://www.ihigh.com/littlefallsactivities/broadcast_206981.html?silverlight=1
One of the trends I’m seeing in these presentations is this:
“I was completely against iPads and using money for those devices. Then we started using them–I was able to integrate them into my curriculum, kids are actually using them, and not only are they learning more and doing things I never thought possible, but I’m a better teacher with the iPad, too.”
I haven’t seen many negative reports on using the iPad, and those that I have seen were based in the college setting, in situations where students were not allowed to use an iPad beyond a single term, and appropriate apps were not used for those classes. When the iPad is used JUST as a textbook or for reading, it can be replaced by a $79 Kindle.
“I’ve looked for research, and there’s nothing out there about the effectiveness of the iPad in education.”
Remember that the iPad went on sale in April of 2010, and landed in classrooms in September of 2010. The iPad 2 landed in classrooms in September of 2011. In other words, the device has been available less than two years. The iPad isn’t present in enough schools, and hasn’t been around long enough, for researchers to provide reliable data on the iPad. In contrast, the SMART Board has been available since 1991, and is implemented in so many schools across the world that a reliable sample base can be easily obtained.
My hypothesis: we will start to see the first statically reliable studies appear in the next school year (2012-2013), and we are going to learn that students with iPads are achieving higher scores across the board than students without iPads, and we will probably even see a comparable rate of growth that is higher than students that have an interactive white board in the room.
The reaction to this data will be a educational environment that frantically adopts the iPad (it already is), because test scores are everything right now. And sadly, this is the last reason why iPads should be integrated into education.
And don’t forget the news from this past week, where the U.S. Department of Education recently announced that all classroom materials should be digital by 2017.
Thanks, Shana, for sharing what you learned in Little Falls!