Will the iPad and Similar Technology Revolutionize Learning? | Edutopia
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Will the iPad and Similar Technology Revolutionize Learning?

Bob Lenz

Co-founder and Chief of Innovation, Envision Education, Oakland CA
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I am writing this blog post on the new Apple iPad while on a plane returning from the Newschools Venture Fund Community of Practice and Summit in Washington DC. There, at the nation's capital, a gathering of education entrepreneurs from across the country explored the themes of technology and innovation.

We learned about strategies, about people, and about organizations that are trying to leverage the use of digital technology to improve learning outcomes for youth -- particularly those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. We learned about the approach of the School of One in New York that uses computer-based programs to customize learning for each student. We discussed the approach of hybrid schools where part of the learning is online. We learned about the High Tech High video chat system that they use to conduct teacher-sharing protocols with teachers in their network and around the world. We also used text message polls (like on an American Idol) created by Edmodo to stimulate discussion.

Milton Chen, Senior Fellow at the GLEF, encouraged us to think about developing new technologies that can assess deeper learning -- core content skills and knowledge with complex cognitive skills like critical thinking and problem solving. The meeting theme was very timely and provocative.

As I write this using an iPad, I find it interesting that we did not discuss the implications of the iPad and other tablet type devices on learning and school. I think this technology will revolutionize the way a student will access all types of information: media, academic research, and books (non-fiction, fiction, and textbooks). In addition, students can produce digital work, blog, chat, and email with peers and teachers -- all for a relatively low cost.

The iPad still has room for improvement but the technology will evolve and the cost will drop (currently, it's around $500). Look for many new applications to be built for the iPad that will serve as a course of study or a unit of instruction. Someday, teachers might just create apps for their students instead of handing out papers, or posting assignments on the Internet. I also wonder if this technology will allow access for students across the world that do not have access to schools or teachers.

At Envision Schools, we will be watching, experimenting, and learning how best to use -- or not use -- new digital technology to transform the lives of students.

What do you think? Are these and other new technology a possible silver bullet for learning? Are you using any of these or other new technologies to improve outcomes for students?

Comments (91)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

depped's picture
Middle School English teacher

After being a skeptic about the necessity of owning and using one, I have watched my husband using his iPad in many areas of his work. As I watched over his shoulder, I saw how this little device could free our students up to have their books with them at all times, use collaborative learning where ever they are, and perhaps even click on an app to get to the latest assignment or webinar for class. Its use school wide could change the way our students view education. "Students having an iPad in hand puts them in control of how and when to access new things rather than being guided by the teacher." - thanks Dan Hamilton! Education could turn into a positive student experience where they learn just how to learn. Having a vested interest in learning through technology ensures that students will indeed be ready to meet the 21st century.

maskkas's picture

ipad got so many problems,but still can't stop people buying.
I guess just outlooking attract many,and some Personalize setting make you more comfortable.
Specially,it never similar with any others,so if you are conditioned to use Apple stuff,you are in.

Meyers's picture

The Ipad probably won't in itself. That being said the technology certainly will when the prices come down to the cost of a calculator and it becomes just as common.

In the mean time spend your off time surf fishing LOL

Harry Keller's picture
Harry Keller
President at Smart Science Education Inc.

IIT has created a tablet for $35, although no one's manufacturing it yet.

Rumors circulate of education tables for well below $300 -- maybe even as early as next year.

Get ready!!

smithmary's picture

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smithmary's picture

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Jacob March's picture

A very close friend of mine who is a teacher told me "we must teach to the students future not to our past". I think that in today's society where students are surrounded by video games, TV, personal computers, and cell phones, all from a young age, it is important that we as educators do our best to incorporate technology into our classrooms as often as possible. Technologies are constantly changing, an overhead projector which was once the peak of technology is now at the bottom of the technology scale, and where there were once chalkboards there are now smart boards. Technology is constantly expanding and used correctly it can tremendously improve student learning. That being said I hope to see the day sometime soon when all my students have some sort of device like the Ipad. Simply put students need new technology to keep them interested in today's society.

Emily's picture

As a teacher, I am always looking for ways to implement technology use with my students. Teaching kindergarten, a great deal of time is spent just exploring and learning how to use computers, MP3 players, smartboards, etc., because most of my student have not had any interaction with these technologies before coming to me. My school has purchased several iPads for student use and I am curious as to what the implications will be. I know for at least the time being, the iPad will be used with older students and I am still trying to grapple with how I can use the iPad in my classroom. I agree that technology will improve as well as transform students' access to information with a goal to improve student learning. However, with younger students, I am still a skeptic as to whether or not iPads will be a beneficial technology in the classroom. I look forward to learning and experimenting with iPad use as the school year approaches and plan to keep an open mind about iPad use with five year olds.

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