Exploring the use of iPads and mobile devices in education.
There’s no doubt that digital classrooms are the future, so when schools spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on necessary technology, they want it to be an investment.
It’s comes as little surprise, then, that many schools see iPads above other tablets as the key to their digital curriculum’s success.
Evidence of the iPad’s power can be found in the number of sales. Between October and December 2011, Apple sold 15.4 million iPads, according to the company. That’s up 111 percent from the 7.33 million iPads sold during the same period in 2010.
South Kent School, which boasts a 92 percent digital textbook adoption rate, analyzed a number of tablet options as they leapt into the digital classroom realm.
In Fall 2011, every student and faculty member started the year with a new iPad2.
Instead of replacing desktop or laptop computers, the iPad2 is designed to complement existing technology and make inter-device transfers easy.Saved files can be e-mailed or shared online between teachers and students in a cloud.
The iPads connect wirelessly and allow for mirroring so students can watch a teacher’s presentation right on their own tablet.
Technologically speaking, the stand-out item for the iPad2s was its two cameras.
“Within a few seconds, students can shoot a video, edit it, and upload it from their tablet,”said Matthew Winker, an English teacher at South Kent School.
Instead of just writing about their experiences, they can show and describe something and turn in a multimedia report including videos, photos and sound.
The iPad offers a one-stop-shop for the digital classroom.
“The same device holds all their e-textbooks, handles their email, calendar, etc. And it's fun to use, so they actually use it,” Winker added.
The iPad’s compact size, ease of transportability and design, according to South Kent, means it can be used in almost any learning situation.
Battery life was also an important decision point for the school -- and they were right. If students charge the night before, they can use the iPads all day without re-charging.
In science classes, students are recording data they collected wirelessly from electronic probes. Using their iPads, they can graph readings in real time.
“Students will be using the iPad to help monitor local water, soil, and atmospheric conditions,” said Michael Benjamin, Director of Sustainability at South Kent School. “Having access to the iPad and integrating into a hands-on learning environment brings new possibility and excitement as an educator and allows students to be full participants in the ever-evolving technological age of the 21st century.”
Each student and faculty member will use certain apps including Apple’s iWork, which featuring Pages, Numbers and Keynote. Those allow students to open, edit, save and export Apple iWork and Microsoft Office files. Teacher use iAnnotate to correct submitted work.
Another major reason schools are choosing the iPad, beyond the physical technology, is the network of support Apple offers along the way. They have trained staff available to answer questions that come up – and when you’re making a switch like this, they do.
The iPads are also durable, though not indestructible. Kids are kids, but accidents happen. South Kent had eight iPad breaks in the first two weeks of their school’s iPad program. By January 2012, they were up to only 22 broken iPads out of 250. It’s important to note here that this is an all-boys school.
But those problems are meaningless when you look at how the iPads have completely changed how students are learning.
They can look up answers instantaneously when they have a question and collaborate with class members and faculty around the clock.