Exploring the use of iPads and mobile devices in education.
This seems a bit premature as *most* KG children are being transitioned from daycare to KG and are learning a new structure in their daily schedule, becoming acclimated to a "learning environment" and socializing with new faces.
At the risk of second-guessing the administration in this one school, it looks like this is one of the few schools in the district with money while others are strained with meeting commitments to Early Start programs.
The need for KG children to interact with their environment would be, IMO, diminished with technology in-hand. Now, for those students with special needs, I can (and have) seen the iPad as an effective tool for communication and interaction.
1:1 deployment to KG kids? Wisely spent? Not in my opinion.
The iPads are too new a device for their to be any studies on the relationship of their efficacy in increasing learning. But I suspect the question is really irrelevant to begin with.
What is "learning" in the the kindergarten, and what constitutes evidence? I submit that teacher observation of the engagement that young people show when using such devices is sufficient for evidentiary purposes.
BUT, there is a legitimate question about what sort of activities should occur with five year olds. A case can be made that students should be very active, interacting 3D shapes rather than 2D surfaces, more group activities, more time in the outside world. What's the rush to have children spend time interacting with any type of electronic device?
Like many things, different children may need different approaches. iPads may be a wonderful fit for some, but not for others. Why not have a few in the classroom and not 1-1, pilot a small project with care and observe what happens?
I'm not sure 1:1 is appropriate for kindergarteners, but I've also seen my kindergartener on my iPad. I've also seen the interaction and shared thinking that happens when two kids sit down at an iPad together (supports multitouch). Not going to second-guess the administrators.
I've seen lots of kindergarten and junior kindergarten classes with Smartboards and other interactive whiteboards. For a full install, you're looking at about $5,000. That's around ten iPads. Many districts are looking at SmartTables - about $7,000 each, and many classrooms using them have two. That's enough for a class set in many kindergarten classrooms.
Most of my daughter's classmates were in preschools or daycares where kids were on desktop computers playing "learning games" by the time they were three years old - many earlier. Most have had parents hand them their iPhone or iPad or Android or ??? for a long car trip. The engagement is a given. There are more and more valid apps each day - many designed by kindergarten teachers.
Although 1:1 iPads wouldn't be something I'd specifically look for in kindergarten, I can definitely justify using them with kindergarteners. When I look at other devices being implemented, the iPad feels more child-centered and engaging than a Smartboard.
I think it would be far more benefial to buy electronic notebooks for the children in kindergarten. First, it is important that these children learn keyboard skills and it is easier to teach these on a traditional keypad that is not as sensitive as an iPad. Second, notebooks are a lot cheaper and while they do not have a touch screen, they do have many valuable teaching programs available.
Finally, I am all for technology and like to think I am staying abreast of new developments, but honestly, kindergarten children could be just as happy curling up with a traditional book as they are with an iPad. Leave the iPads for later and focus on keyboarding and reading books in kindergarten.
I've been curious about iPads w/Kindergarteners in comparison to other tools. Here's a survey I put out on Twitter late last week http://twtpoll.com/8ynj6m
I see this is an example of a school thinking progressively and being pro-active in exploring new ways to educate children. I agree 100% in principle and if implemented well, this will surely be a great asset.
But I do think the reason why many balk at the headline (not yours but the one that is making the rounds on the internet) is that you get the feeling the school will be buying personal iPads for all pre-schoolers which is certainly not the case. But for use in the classroom, supervised, why not?
I agree Alecia. I have just returned from a week at Cedars School of Excellence (first 1:1 iPad school in the world). I spent a lot of time in the primary grades collecting information and resources for our 1:1 iPad program next year.
What I found was that kids are going to be kids. At the core of Cedars School is great teaching and differentiation. The iPad is just another device to enhance the students learning and teachers best practices. They don't use them all day long. I found students chose to play with traditional things (post office, kitchen, blocks, etc.) when they were done with an activity that involved the iPad.
What I also found so amazing is that the iPad allowed for students to be able to express themselves in more creative ways than I have seen before in a K-12 school.
The iPads were a school owned device and do not go home with students until the age of 7/8. If a school/district/county has the means to buy these devices then I say yes!
On a side note...I am so happy that I work at a school that has taken the leap of faith and will be going 1:1 iPads in grades JK-4 next year!
We're been piloting iPads in lower school all year, and found them to be VERY useful educational tools. Because the interface is easy and intuitive, very young kids can easily perform tasks that are too hard to do on laptops. This is especially true forkids with difficulties with fine motor skills, who have a hard time with a mouse and especially a trackpad.
The apps for iPads are just plain better then educational games for laptops. I think that's because the App store has created a new market for nimble, interesting small companies who weren't able to compete against Tom Snyder in the shrinkwrapped $2000 edutainment game industry.
Seriously, use Motion Math HD for 20 minutes and tell me it isn't better than any math game ever made for desktop or laptop PCs.
Plus, iPads enable very young kids to be creative in ways that laptops don't. The apps for creative production like animation, movie-making, story drawing and recording are simply fantastic. StoryKit, Toontastic, a 5-year-old can write and illustrate their own picture book then record the narration to it; basically without being taught how to do it. When I think of the number of computer lab lessons that have been devoted to trying to get lower school students to accomplish the same thing in something like PowerPoint or Macromedia Flash I just cringe.
Download and read The Cat in the Hat on an iPad. Notice how the words change color as the reader reads them. (Notice how you can turn off his voice and read it yourself.) But imagine how transformative that is for a literacy learner to get the illustration of a ball, the sound "ball" and the written word b-a-l-l all at the same time. It makes it so much easier to make that connection between sound, concept and written language.
If money is an issue, keep track of how much time your current IT staff spend on software installations and computer hardware repairs. Once teachers are in charge of buying and installing apps on devices that never need repair, I think the savings will pay for themselves. Or you can transition the fix-it guys into facilitators. Either way, teachers win.
Just my thoughts. I'm posting here and there about our iPad project on my blog.