What Will It Take for iPads To Be In Every Classroom?
Image via WikipediaEver since the iPad came out in April 2010, I've often been asked about whether schools will be adopting iPads for 1:1 initiatives and when they will be replacing textbooks. Although there are plenty of great apps available, a few case studies where schools have successfully deployed hundreds of iPads, and a promising application that could potentially supplant the traditional hardcover, the actual deployment, management, and overall usefulness of iPads in the classroom (and in my case, a high school classroom) remains to be explored. With the release of LanSchool's iPad application coupled with iPad 2 or better yet for school budgets, less expensive original iPads, the 1:1 discussion can resume (and judging by the comments in Engadget's article, it can get pretty heated).
By pushing out questions to students and soliciting responses from their iPads, LanSchool's app can effectively replace student response systems or "clickers" as they're commonly called. Granted, LanSchool's question push feature is only one small piece of the classroom management solution. The rest of the student side of the application remains to be bare bones, but appears to include individual messaging, formative assessments, and monitoring through a teacher console. In my mind, several initiatives still need to happen before iPads (other tablets are possible, but Apple definitely has its front foot in the door) will fully invade the classroom.
What would really be beneficial would be a system similar to a WebEx, Adobe Connect, or DimDim console, where a teacher could share his or her iPad screen with the class, and students can take personalized notes, engage in discussions, pull in information from an online textbook, and record video, all from the their individual iPad.
More textbooks still need to become available through iBooks, an app such as Inkling, or (and this could be the direction we're going) educators could decide to abandon the traditional textbook in favor of more interactive means of delivering content. Sites such as Khan Academy where instruction comes in the form of specialized video demonstrations, and Discovery Education Streaming, where video clips can be custom assigned to students and more individualized learning (including differentiated instruction) can occur.
There needs to be an easy way to store, manage, and update a set of iPads. As it stands, teacher workload is often at a maximum, so the process needs to be efficient. I'll leave it to the entrepreneurs to come up with a well designed contraption that will charge and sync the iPads (wirelessly preferred for both accounts). If Apple can design a "smart" cover that magnetically attaches and can power on the iPad, I'm confident we can get something created for our storage, charging and syncing solution.
Lastly, we need to realize that our thinking on how to use the iPad will probably evolve over time. I still don't foresee students doing much typing on the device. You can show me all the videos you want about people typing fast on the iPad, but I'll postulate that the majority of users will always be able to type faster on a traditional keyboard. Instead, our students will use the touch features to explore, annotate, and create. Rather than typing, they will touch and swipe. Presenting PowerPoints will be replaced by creating movies, and a five paragraph essay will be supplemented with an audio recording of the student's work. Show me the above in a high school, and I'm all in for a classroom set of iPads.
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