iPads in the classroom?
I admit that I've been skeptical about the usefulness of the iPad to those of us who like to create content and share information as well as take it in. Sure, it's been billed as a game-changer, but it's also been described as a consumption-only device, not having much ability to store files or spread them around. Many a blog post and Twitter tweet express concern about Apple's tight control over usability and content.
At least one school is working around those concerns to bring relatively inexpensive (yet highly engaging) devices into their classrooms.
The iPad was announced many weeks before its release, so we know many of the features and even several of the applications that would be available. We also worked closely with Apple. We developed a staff development program with Apple. Teachers in this project will receive 5 days of staff development from Apple.
The iPads can be used [to create] wikis, blogs, keynote presentations. We can do much with on-line research. (Libraries in small schools have virtually disappeared.) We have found many cool applications to enhance the curriculum in our classes. (Try the programs Star Walk or The Elements. Cool music programs that allow students to record music, electronic books, drawing applications, Numbers offers much flexibility for spreadsheets.)
It's clear that committed, innovative educators are making the most of their dwindling dollars. When Apple and third party application vendors realize the impact they'll have on teaching (and they probably already have), this really could be a game-changer.
We haven't had the resources to enhance out technology program for many years. I don't believe there is a "perfect" solution for technology in any district. For some it may be SMART Boards, for others laptops, others netbooks. For GFW, it will be iPads. It's not the device. It's how the teachers will use their device to improve instruction. I hope it can work in our district.
Update: Read a related article from WCCO