Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Why I am Against this Ipad buying rage in schools

Ask any of my friends, I am always the first one to try and adapt new technology and have it being used in my everyday life. I love messing around with new technology. Personally I would spend all day everyday just playing around with new technology if I could. But when it comes to the classroom, I am wondering why all of these schools are spending SO MUCH MONEY on new technologies.

Some of the new technologies I agree with; projectors, computers, microphone and speaker systems. I like all three of these and feel every one of these should be in every classroom. Projectors allow for a lot of digital content to be displayed to students, you can’t go wrong with this. Computers are the same; they allow digital content to be seen. Microphones and speakers allow for the teacher to be heard equally throughout the room. I am for any technology that is like these three, technology that aids student learning.

But I see A LOT of problems with all of these schools adapting tablet, all of this school specific software, and all this other technology that is limited to school use. Would I like to have Ipads in my room? Of course, on one condition, the students are allowed to take them home. It is great to be able to teach and use new technology through computers and tablets. But what happens when students go home at night and do not have the technology to continue their learning and that is the only way that they know how to work with the problems. It will create more trouble than it is worth.

This is the reason why I love the interactive geometry software Geogebra instead of the program Geometers sketch pad. Geogebra is a free java based program that anyone in the world can access as long as they have a computer (you can download the program and install it if you don’t have internet). I try to incorporate geogebra as much as I can in my lessons and let students work with the program as well. If they learn how to use the program, then they can use it on their own at home. I would also not be against the students using this on an assessment. 

I feel this same way with interactive whiteboards, what is the point to them? The teacher still has to have their back to the room. People use the excuse of “but you can save your work!” I ask them; can’t a digital camera do the same thing? Take a picture of the regular whiteboard and upload it to a class website (another great tech). Same thing with Ipads, buy each kid a $30 camera (or use their camera capable cell phone) and take a picture of an individual whiteboard! Way cheaper and just as effective!

 I have found an awesome device called a starboard which is basically a monitor with a wacom tablet built in. This allows the teacher to actually face the class all the time and still have all the benefits of the interactive whiteboards. This I agree with because it does eliminate the classroom issues of having the teacher’s back to the room.

I am also a fan of social networking; twitter, facebook, etc, being used in classrooms. Students can ask questions to their teacher and others and get responses when they are at home or away. They can also be used for note taking/questions in class as demonstrated by a couple GVSU professors here. Using technology in this way is how it benefits students, not allowing them to work with technology then be without it when it matters.

I am a strong believer that if I am going to introduce a new technology into the classroom for learning purposes, that technology needs to be available to all of my students when they are at home. If this is not the case, then I do not want the technology, simple as that.

I am against schools purchasing Ipads unless they purchase one per student and that student is allowed to take it home every night. But this would cause a huge upkeep cost to the school/parents that, for the most part, cannot afford in these times. Until all of this new technology that is trying to be introduced to students is accessible to the students no matter the time, it should stay out of the classroom.

Let me know your thoughts on this topic? Do you feel schools should be buying into the Ipad rage or do you think they should wait? I am really interested in others opinions on this topic!


  1. I have a number of thoughts about technology in the classroom. I think that far too often money is dumped into new technology with the thought that "kids will learn better with technology." Often, they will, but I think that technology is more of an icing on the cake than the foundation to build on. A substantial number (dare I say the vast majority?) of the scientific advances that now improve our standard of living were discovered in a low tech world. If these things could be learned without high technology then, surely they can now.

    Ultimately, I'm disinclined to think that you can change a kid's attitude about math by handing him an i-pad, or any other piece of technology. If a student cares, then the i-pad will help, but if he or she doesn't care, then technology has little to solve the root problem.

  2. I completely agree with you Dr. Carlson. If a student is not interested in the first place, isn't adding the new tech just adding theatrics at that point. And as you stated, most (if not all) of what students learn in high school was thought of a long time ago without tech. Students need to understand the underlying principles before they can understand how the new tech is actually figuring out the answers. I do think that Ipads could be a great differentiation technique for those students that need more. but otherwise it is a waste of money at this time.

  3. I think it depends on how new technology is integrated, which usually isn't articulated in the campaigns for the "latest and greatest." If technology is used thoughtfully and effectively to enable deeper inquiry and true interaction and creativity, then it is great. People got from point A to point B on foot or horseback just fine in the past, but cars are sure useful in freeing up time and energy. But if technology is just a bunch of bells and whistles and chrome that is valued solely for it's (temporary!) novelty, then it is a bad investment that can actually distract from the intrinsic rewards and interest of math or whatever other subject we're doing. So I think it all comes down to what software we use and what we support/let kids do with it.

    I think that ipads could be really interactive if they allow kids to do virtual experiments and create things. They have more immediate opportunity for interactivity than the "interactive" white boards. But if they're just a higher tech version of personal blackboards, then yeah, what a waste.

  4. I agree that if the tech is allowing for deeper understanding then it is great. New tech is a great differentiation tool. I am a huge fan of new tech in the classroom. But I go back to my point of if it is only available in the classroom is it really benefiting the students? We need to be investing in technology that the students are going to see and actually use outside of the classroom, not just while they are in it. Your example with cars is great. They do allow us to get to different places faster then foot/horseback. But generally they are readily available whenever we need them, not just when we have an important place to go or unsure how to get there.