Do you feel the iPads are making a distinct difference. I had a friend ask me this question today, after sending me an article that Bill Gates is featured in discussing why tablets aren’t a good solution for education. A direct quote from the article is, “Rather than a tablet, Gates envisages “a low-cost PC that’s going to let them be highly interactive” as more effective in education.”. My first reaction is that, of course Bill gates is going to say that a small pc would be better served in the classroom, but then his above statement reminds me that Bill Gates is not an educator (as much as he has given to education and put himself into education – he hasn’t actually spent time teaching in a classroom) and therefore, really isn’t one to speak about student engagement and tablets.
My response to my friend was that the response I have seen from students has been amazing! The students are excited about their iPads or iTouches in class. They are excited about using the technology that they use every day at home and the results of what they can do is amazing. In my opinion, student engagement is much higher with the tablets, than with the PC’s. Our students could pick – do they want to use a PC or their own iPads – all but 3 students chose to use an i-device. The students want to use the tablets because they can do most of what a pc can do, but it is all in one neat package – they have their music, their camera, their video camera, and the software all in one place!
We read Hatchet in fifth-grade this year and had the students use their devices to make a book trailer about the book. The students had to figure out the theme of the book and pick music, pictures, etc. that fit the theme. The results were amazing. I was able to tell from the book trailers that the students really understood what was happening in the book. AND – the students repeatedly asked to stay in from recess to work on their book trailers – that is student engagement! The students were so in to creating something that they didn’t want to leave their task! Click the below link to go to the website that gives all of the instructions and documentation I used for creating book trailers.
So, my answer to my friend was that YES, I feel that the iPads are making a distinct difference. His point to me what that we shouldn’t use technology, just to say we are using technology, which I completely agree with! I think that the iPads will make a huge difference, but I also think that difference could be made with most any device. However, the argument for the iPad also has to be, it is our job to prepare our students for the future and the future definitely includes iPads!