Maine now hates iPads

That title gets your attention, doesn’t it?  Over the past two days, a single news item has been circulating the tech blogs.  The best example comes from Fortune: http://fortune.com/2016/05/23/maine-schools-ipad-macbook-air/

As a person whose iPad is his primary device, the fact that single voices (read the article closely) are dominating the conversation:

Even students were harsh, with one saying that iPads are designed to “play games on” and ostensibly not to be used for work.

And another:

One teacher said that students often use the iPads as “toys,” adding that they have “no educational function in the classroom.” 

Let me be very clear: iPads aren’t perfect.  Classroom management in a 1:1 has been a nightmare, because Apple has been slow to provide appropriate tools.  We deal with gaming every day.  We deal with misuse and mistreatment of devices.  We deal with off-task behavior.

If you think that Chromebooks or MacBooks are going to stop gaming, you are fooling yourself.  If you think kids won’t mess around on a Chromebook or MacBook, you are living in a fantasy world.

“These devices are only for serious work.”  Yes, that’s because there are NO HTML 5 or Flash-based games on the web  [There are.  More than you can count].

With iOS 9.3 (released this Spring), Apple finally introduced management features that are going to change the game  (yet again) with iPads in the classroom.  These tools are just 3 years too late.

And to the teacher that says iPads have no educational value, my answer is, “Seriously?!?”  In the world of BYOD and 1:1Chromebooks where such programs are less favorable to music education, we are always told, “Surely there has to be some educational value to using these devices in music.”  My response would be that the quoted teacher isn’t a very good teacher if they can find NO educational use for an iPad in their classroom.

The article also critiques using the iPad for Word Processing (Too bad Pages and Word are available for the device).

Let me translate that for you: “The iPad doesn’t have a keyboard.”  I heard that argument from some of the English teachers in my school about a month ago.  I have a Bluetooth keyboard for my iPad, and there is nothing stopping a school from requiring students to provide an external Bluetooth keyboard.

We purchased two hundred keyboards when we went 1:1 .  Most of these haven’t been used at all.  When our English teachers wanted to use them, it turns out the keyboards do not have individual Bluetooth identifiers, so all of them show up as the same keyboard in the pairing process (even though all of them have unique BT addresses).  As a result, an entire class can’t pair at the same time, basically requiring so much time to pair that it becomes pointless to use them–and you want students to unpair after using the keyboard so they don’t accidentally hijack someone else’s iPad that forgets to unpair in another classroom.

So I get it–iPads aren’t perfect.  But the solutions keep getting better.  MacBooks are wonderful, but the clamshell device doesn’t fit well into most music classrooms.  

Incidentally, this news item came out a few days after Google announced that Chrome OS will soon be able to run most (if not all) Android apps.  Having taught in an unrestricted app environment–I can tell you exactly what is going to happen when the “best” Android apps are on every student Chromebook.  Google promises central control of apps for schools–but implementing that procedure is more difficult than simply saying that you will provide it.

And to readers in Maine–you don’t all hate iPads, but you should know that the tech press has basically said that you want to ship every iPad out of your state.  If you like iPads and can see that they have some benefit in education–you might need to speak up, as your voice is clearly not being heard.

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Posted on May 24, 2016, in General Musings. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Maine now hates iPads.

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