Why use iPads in Education?

To be successful when using technology in education, it is important to focus on engagement, creativity, inquiry-based learning and differentiated instruction rather than on the technological tools used to amplify the learning which takes place in the classroom. I believe that iPads and other digital learning devices are a critical part of the learning process. The point of using an iPad in the classroom shouldn’t be simply to use the digital device, but to provide a tool to aid learning, as this will empower learners to engage in the transformation of learning experiences, which would not be possible without iPad technology. I believe that as educators we need to teach our children to be creative problem solvers; we want them to be leaders who can analyze a variety of sources for bias while synthesizing information to create a thorough understanding of a problem so that they can engage in dialogues to affect solutions. To do this we need to educate them and provide them with the right technology to achieve these outcomes. This is why I believe that the iPad, in addition to other mobile devices and  Apple learning platforms, is the right tool.

7 Key Reasons for using the iPad in Education:

Learning Styles:

The iPad is a streamlined, visually attractive tablet that is used primarily as a platform for audio-visual media including books, periodicals, movies, music, games, and web content.  The auditory, kinesthetic and visual aspects of the tablet appeal to a variety of different learners and learning styles. The iPad enables personalized learning by giving learners the responsibility and ownership to choose how they learn, when they learn and where they learn; as well as developing their organizational skills.

Creativity:

The vast number of Apps allows all types of learners from different age groups to be creative by expanding the learning experience both inside and outside the classroom, from interactive lessons to study aids to productivity tools. The use of iMovie and GarageBand provide opportunities for all learners to show their creative nature and skills.

Technical:

The iPad requires minimal maintenance (as with most Apple products) and installation of software as well as booting up much more quickly than other mobile devices. Because of its solid-state hard drive, there is minimal time wasting in connecting to the network and logging in. The iPad has its own operating system and software, which is optimized to ensure ease of use and fast access to its software and Apps.

Accessibility:

Learners have accessibility to the world 24/7 (subject to internet access). Students don’t need to carry a huge number of textbooks, dictionaries, thesauruses, atlases etc. The iPad has accessibility built in, it comes with a screen reader, support for playback of closed-captioned content and a universal zoom feature which provides magnification of the entire screen of any application. It also supports a wireless Braille display and international Braille tables.

Battery Life:

The battery life is relatively long, on average I would say at least 7 hours.  The iPad 2 can stay charged for the entire school day, although learners need to take responsibility for charging the device

Any Age and Anyone:

The iPad can be used by anyone, at any age from pre-school through to adult life. I have found it especially useful for learners who have learning difficulties.  The ipad is easy to use and can improve the progress of learning for everyone, regardless of ability, and this makes it a powerful tool.

Motivation: 

I have read many discussions about the Hawthorne Effect with the iPad and being a new technological tool for learning in the classroom, this maybe true. However, anyone who has been in a class of K12 learners who are all using an iPad will see that the response from the learners is one of engagement, wonderment, learning and of progress. It is fair to say this may be short lived, though I believe it will be long lasting and of course Apple will bring out another adapted tablet or a new product in a year or two which again revolutionizes mobile technology as a tool to aid learning in the classroom and beyond.

There are many other factors to consider, which are not mentioned here – the one of cost and budgetary requirements comes to mind. Also, as previously stated, the adoption of technology will only be successful if the associated pedagogy relates to the correct use of mobile devices in the classroom and associated learning philosophy. As my school is a 1:1 Apple school, it makes sense for us to continue to adopt Apple technology. I am sure there are other android-based tablets that will also aid learning in education but as yet I have not seen any evidence.

By Steven David Pearce 26th May 2011