Last year, the school board in Auburn, Maine okayed the outlay of $200,000 for 285 iPad 2 tablets to be given to kindergarten students and teachers starting in the fall.
While experts question the use of digital resources, and their possible contribution to the rise in student plagiarism, Apple has already conducted a survey on their use amongst our youngest students. Here are the initial results:
A new study shows that students who use iPads in the classroom score better in literacy tests than those who don’t. As previously reported, educators in Auburn, Maine began instructing 266 kindergarteners using the iPad 2 this fall, and those who used the tablet scored higher on literacy tests and were more enthused about learning, according to Apple blog TUAW.
The study, conducted in Auburn, Maine, randomly assigned half of the districts 16 kindergarten classes to use iPads for nine weeks. In all, 129 students used an iPad, while 137 students were taught without an iPad. Each of the 266 students were tested before and after the iPads were introduced into the classroom.
Kids Using iPads Outperformed The Non-iPad Users
According to the literacy test results, classes using the iPads outperformed the non-iPad students in every literacy measure they were tested on.
I hate to be a cynic here, but I can imagine that the excitement of those kindergartners getting new iPads would be enough to raise test scores. Not to mention the depression and frustration felt by the 137 students who were denied them!
So I don’t feel we should read too much into this “study,” although it certainly proves the overall appeal of iPads to young children.
The Rise Of iPads Still A Far-Flung Dream For Some
Apple debuted the holy grail of textbooks on Thursday in New York City. The books are undeniably cool: they will integrate videos, photos and interactive graphics, make taking notes a breeze and be easy to navigate — all features that will undoubtedly make Apple’s textbooks more enjoyable and engaging to students than the current dead tree versions. But the problem Apple ignored in their announcement is how to actually get their reinvented textbooks into the hands of students.
For the majority of schools, having cutting-edge technology in the classroom is still a far-flung dream. While ed-tech is a booming industry, if you’ve paid any amount of attention to education in the past few years, you’ll recall budgets have been slashed, teachers are losing their jobs and no amount of cookies sold at a bake sale will buy every kid an iPad.
So iPads are the technological tool of the moment.
“Little Evidence Kids Learn More, Faster Or Better”
But some teachers like Larry Cuban, a professor emeritus of education at Stanford University, are cautious of the educational value in iPads.
“There is very little evidence that kids learn more, faster or better by using these machines,” he told the Times. Will students grow to become too reliant on the iPad? Everything from three-dimensional graphics to functions like an on-hand glossary and digital flashcards transform learning into a simple tap of the screen.
“iPads are marvelous tools to engage kids, but then the novelty wears off and you get into hard-core issues of teaching and learning,” Cuban said.
It is exciting that these Maine kindergartners love their iPads, and that gets them excited about learning. But the jury is still out on how effective the iPad will be on long-term learning.
What do you think?
Photo Credit: Roger's Wife