Exploring the use of iPads and mobile devices in education.
Decisions should be based on facts, objectively considered. -Marvin Bower
I posted here recently my students’ reading scores. Obviously, we are excited about them. Student achievement and closing the achievement gap is our top priority. School-wide, our MAP (Measurement of Academic Progress) scores are up.
What other positive things are we seeing school-wide? Most striking is our copy paper expenses dropped $15,000 from last year. Our number of copies dropped from 400,000 to just at 100,000. Teachers are able to reduce paper and copying by using the iPads. Many are uploading activities as a PDF to a class wiki. Students access the wiki with iPads, complete the activity in a PDF annotating app and then either upload to PaperPort or to the district WebDav. School discipline referrals went from around 400 last year to around 100 this year. The 3 high schools in our district that are using iPads also see decreases in paper usage, copying, and discipline referrals. Obviously, something good is going on.
Clearly the iPads are making an impact at my school. There will always be people who feel the iPads are not worth the investment, or who question the validity of them in the classroom. I read articles and blogs daily that dismiss iPads in the classroom as a flash in the pan. Technology changes so rapidly and it is necessary to keep up in today’s global society. Will iPads be around in 5 years? I have no idea. Will there be a better technology out there for the classroom in that time? Maybe…but if we wait until the “newest, better version” comes out, we won’t ever buy anything. The laptop I’m typing this blog post on will be discontinued, outdated, replaced or obsolete in less than 5 years. I guess the way I look at it is whatever the technology is it needs to be engaging and relevant to learning. In the Stone Age, a broad prehistoric period during which stone was widely used in the manufacture of implements with a sharp edge, or a point, that was some serious technology! That age lasted about 2.5 million years. The creation of the wheel, the combustion engine and the first main frame computer were all significant technology advances. We have to be willing to change with the times.
I have no way of knowing what the long term impact of iPads will be on education. What I do know right now is that our school data is showing early trends of iPad success. Behind every number in that data pool is a student with an iPad and that student has a name. I’m not sure who would be willing to look that child in the face and tell them he or she isn’t worth the investment. Good teaching is good teaching. Our data is indicative that iPads in our classrooms is good teaching…on steroids!