It is very easy to leap on the technology wagon without looking first. The incredible, Moorian, rise in available, cheap, and fast technology has obvious benefits for teaching and learning. It has long been thought that interactivity leads to better understanding and what could be more interactive than having a direct impact on class events on your very own iPad?
Children can access encyclopaedia’s, bespoke apps, and communications instantly; photos and videos give a fun new way to do homework; plus, everyone can submit work in real time. These benefits extend to staff and help bridge the gap between student and teacher. However, beneath the glossy exterior of the modern classroom lie more practical concerns.
Schools, like offices, are rife with misplacements, and whereas a book or worksheet is easy to replace, an iPad is slightly different. The constantly evolving software, linked at all times to the ever increasing cloud needs updated and maintaining – whose job is this; the parent, the pupil, the teacher? Another problem is when students inevitably forget their iPad. With everyone else working on the app, what is the child to do – share and miss out on the crucial interactive aspect?
There is also the temptation to abandon the ancient modus operandi of writing with pen and paper. Though the impact of a dislocation from paper beneath pen will lessen as the digital age envelops further, it is still an essential part of learning. Perhaps then a blended learning approach is best?
Many UK schools now give children netbooks in place of traditional workbooks whilst they themselves have the iPad. Less powerful and more linked to tangible learning materials, the netbooks might provide a perfect medium in the balance between ideal learning conditions and brutal practicality.
It is difficult to predict the impact for any given class of giving iPads to every pupils, though most teachers would suggest this is a slightly rash idea.
Ultimately, factors like school size, wealth, and ethos will play a massive role in deciding a school’s technology approach. However, as tablets and whatever comes next becomes integrated fully into our lives, it will become essential to have a plan in place for learning and technology.
What would you do?