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iPads In The Classroom

With Meghna Chakrabarti in for Tom Ashbrook

Tablets computers—iPads and the rest—are moving into children’s classrooms and backpacks. How is that changing learning? Homework time?

In this Aug. 23, 2011 photo, a student unpacks her new iPad at Burlington High School in Burlington, Mass. Burlington is giving iPads this year to every one of its 1,000-plus high school students. Some classes will still have textbooks, but the majority of work and lessons will be on the iPads. (AP)

In this Aug. 23, 2011 photo, a student unpacks her new iPad at Burlington High School in Burlington, Mass. Burlington is giving iPads this year to every one of its 1,000-plus high school students. Some classes will still have textbooks, but the majority of work and lessons will be on the iPads. (AP)

Apple’s unveiled the new iPad mini. Amazon’s upped its services for Kindle, too. Suddenly it seems tablet computers are everywhere. Including classrooms. School districts large and small are paying big money to put tablets in students’ backpacks.

The technology could be a powerful new teaching tool. Or, could they be a distraction from the focused work of real learning. Steve Jobs once said, “It’s not the customer’s job to know what they want.” But do we want tablets in schools?

This hour, On Point: iPads, Kindles, and the challenges of the 21st century classroom.

-Meghna Chakrabarti


Shayne Evans, director of the four campuses of the University of Chicago Charter School.

Daniel Willingham, professor of psychology at the University of Virginia.

Janet Frazier, mother and candidate for school board in Lexington, South Carolina.

From The Reading List

Bloomberg “For districts around the country, though, it’s the price as much as the cool quotient that could draw them to a new, smaller version of the iPad that Apple will unveil tomorrow at an event in San Jose, California. Apple has long been a leader in education, and schools began embracing the iPad soon after its 2010 debut. Yet as fiscal budget shortfalls crimp spending all the more, schools in growing numbers are warming to the handheld devices as an alternative to more expensive laptops.”

New York Times “A growing number of schools across the nation are embracing the iPad as the latest tool to teach Kafka in multimedia, history through “Jeopardy”-like games and math with step-by-step animation of complex problems.”

Ed Week “As you may have heard today, Apple announced their E-Textbook Initiative to enter and revolutionize the textbook market, specifically centering these initiatives to highlight the potential of the iPad in education.”

Educational Apps

Evernote makes it easy to remember things big and small from your everyday life using your computer, phone, tablet and the web.

Notability is optimized for the new iPad! It powerfully integrates handwriting, PDF annotation, typing, recording, and organizing so you can take notes your way! Discover the freedom to capture ideas, share insights, and present.

Co-Writer is a word prediction program. It works with most writing application, such as Microsoft Word, Outlook, or WordPress. Co:Writer analyzes writing in real time and offers word choices based on grammar. The program deciphers phonetic and invented spellings and misspellings with reversed or missing letters.

Math Magic
Don’t you just love how much your child has improved in adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing? You never get tired of hearing, “Can I do math?” from your six year old, do you? Of course you don’t.

Studyblue flashcards
Make, study and share online flashcards, study guides and quizzes. Anytime. Anywhere.

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  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    I am thinking back to my grade school days to all those “hand me down” textbooks with readymade cheat-sheets in the margins (most of which were incorrect ), and all the graffiti, and dried up nasal drippings; yep, I do believe we are moving in the correct direction ! Of course you will be allowing the kids to send encrypted “love notes”, right? — > Deja-vu “ Go sit in the hallway James, until I call you back !

  • LinRP

    I absolutely think it’s a step in the right direction. Another benefit for my college-aged sons is the ability to break (somewhat) the stranglehold of the cost of text books. A $350 chemistry textbook is often less than half of that for the iPad. Still a ripoff, but it’s a big savings. The ability to cross-reference, go to other links in a flash, copy passages into notes are just some of the benefits they mention. No more spine-breaking backpacks either. :)

    • autismtherapist

      I wish it was that simple to stop these companies from ripping consumers off but my daughters had to buy online digital books that cost over $100 for classes and could not sell them used at the end of the course!

      • Wm_James_from_Missouri

        Right on ! Not being able to sell a program that you purchased is just plain wrong ! A lot of software companies do that too. Our government lets them get away with it, which is also wrong. If they want to sell me a new program, they need to make it do more than the one before !

  • RolloMartins

    Getting rid of the textbook monopoly will be a good thing. 

    • jefe68

      It will be replaced with an ebook monopoly.

      Take the example of EDMC, they require ebooks for most if not all of their classes being tougt by one of their schools, the Art Institutes. They are expensive as textbooks and in the case of EDMC the company that produces the ebooks happens to be owned by them as well.  This ebook thing is not what people think it is.  

      • nlpnt

        EDMC? Get out now, before you waste any more time and money on non-transferable credits.  I won’t go deep into for-profit colleges since that’s not today’s topic but I’ll share this link;

        • jefe68

          I’m not a student at any of the EDMC colleges.
          What gave you that idea? The info comes from an article I read about how ebooks are tied to questionable corporations, such as EDMC, and how they are not cheaper than text books. Which is one of the huge ripoffs, my opinion, in college costs.

          I don’t trust much of anything posted in Huffington Post, sometimes they are good sourced articles but a lot of the time they are full of it.

          Most colleges do not take transfer credits of more than a year or maybe two semesters if you are lucky. The for profits are a ripoff though, but their model is seeping into higher education, it’s the American way.
          The fixed, I mean free market model.

    • Don_B1

      There is a company creating what I call “shadow textbooks,” where a cheap e-book follows the outline of the “target textbook,” with the issues covered from free sources where each discussion follows the target paragraph by paragraph.

  • Markus6

    I like the idea too, though I suspect that schools or publishers will find a way to charge a comparable amount for the textbooks once iPads are widespread. 

    I love the idea of being able to link to external sites to drill down into a related area while the lecture is going on. However, I wonder how much emailing, messaging and surfing through facebook, sports scores, etc. will go on. I have teleconferences all the time while in front of my computer and too often give in to the temptation to check email or some unrelated site when the call gets a bit slow. But we’re in the early days here and I suspect we’ll find ways of solving this.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    So what happens when the clouds get blown away?

    New devices, not necessarily these, are starting to assume connectivity.  I fear that there is magical thinking at work here. What happens when the local server, network or other critical piece of the information pipeline breaks? What happens when the student can’t afford connectivity or doesn’t have access to it in some remote location?

    By what means will we ensure that these needs be addressed by marketeers, designers and manufacturer’s vying for this market by producing the lowest possible cost unit?

    • DrewInGeorgia

      Get rid of Homework, it sucks anyway. lol

      I feel ya’ on the connectivity issue. You’d think that since the Internet has potential access to all of Human Kind’s collected knowledge it would be a priority to ensure that access was readily available to all. Apparently we’d rather be Rich than Smart.

      • autismtherapist

        France has no homework. Their school performance and student scores are higher than ours in the US plus they spend less per student.

  • Yar

    The ultimate classroom device would be a two sided Nexus kindle flip.
    One side with a LDC screen, the other E-ink.  
    I am old enough to remember SRA card based self paced learning. Good content transcend systems, likewise excellent technology can’t improve poor content.  

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    The big possibility and hope here is the establishment of a competent, solid library of freeware and public domain materials. Not only being free, a big advantage is the good stuff that works does not get tossed just so retailers can sell something else.

  • whoamommy1965

    While I find it amazing that we have this technology it is a distraction from the real problem.  I have a high functioning autistic child with severe dyslexia. The school bought him an ipad in september and have yet to integrate it into his day or with apps that help him in any way.  What does he use it for – watching youtube videos during his break in the day

    • autismtherapist

      I’m an autism/VB therapist and have lived through the “assistive technology” nightmare. I worked with a young student who was non verbal. He was given an Alpha Smart wordprocessor lol!

      • whoamommy1965

        He has had a pc since 2nd grade. The tech was only as successful as the aide working with him. They finally got him a word prediction program for him last year – again, never used much and no follow through. I have found apps on my own and have been learning how to use to help him integrate. Thank goodness he had an OT who has been helping him now but we are nowhere near self sufficiency.

    • Don_B1

      Don’t wait for the school to do it. Talk with teachers to find out what they are teaching and go to Apple Apps, Khan Academy, etc. to find apps that can help; if that turns out unsatisfactory, call a nearby teachers college and find out if they are doing something along the needed areas, or if they know who is.

      Talk with Apple (online forum) about other sources.

      • whoamommy1965

        I actually was listening to this program prior to heading into an iPad training session to help me help him integrate his technology. I believe this technology will help but we need to think about how to use and not buy and hand to kids. I also think the teacher training piece is plays a huge part in tech success.

    • TinaWrites

      Just a suggestion that may or may not work:  Try using the iPad to shorten the length of the reading material from left to right (i.e., just change the margins).  I’m not sure if you can also change the text to double-spaced, but the first suggestion turned one high functioning Asperger’s relative I know from a complete non-reader to a happy reader of 300+ page books — who also loves to read out loud to others!

      The individual was never even diagnosed with dyslexia — the individual is now in their sixties!! — yet the solution, in this case, pointed to the diagnosis.  Hope this might help you!!

      • whoamommy1965

        Thank you for suggestion – outside the box thinking is always appreciated. My mother had low vision and was legally blind and I have found a lot of things a therapist suggested to her has worked for him. It is hard for the school to understand how a straight A student doing very well on all MCAS testing can be tested reading at 2nd grade level

        • TinaWrites

          I hope this might help!  It sounds like YOU are very good at thinking outside the box, too!  That plus your loving attention to your child are you best allies!  I don’t think that I mentioned that SOME of the websites written (perhaps as blogs) by high functioning individuals with Asperger’s, high functioning Autism, and Dyslexia, offer many helpful suggestions.  It’s hit or miss, but I found that the 20-somethings from the U.K. were the most self-aware of what helps them.  I’m afraid I didn’t mark the exact sites, just used Google.  Also, years ago, the man who is married, perhaps, to the Kardashian women, (he was an Olympic athlete, I think), was on the Donahue show talking about his dyslexia.  He was working with a dyslexia therapist on Long Island who prescribed using high-speed screens to help people with dyslexia have an easier time reading. I thought for sure that the info would be all over the news, but, to my knowledge, it never was.  It may involve the same concept that I talked about (narrow margins and less information all at once).  I’m afraid this was probably twenty years ago or more.  But you might look for that info, too.  The family member whom I spoke about is an absolute genius — especially with all things visual.  So, I might want to suggest that your child be exposed to working with safe, three-dimentional materials like clay (if wheelwork doesn’t appeal to him/her, maybe hand building would.)  Also, lots of drawing and perhaps painting — but NOT with critical teachers who don’t really understand the creative nature of making space by hand and eye.)  Parts of the book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain are great:  especially the exercises in CONTOUR DRAWING — but your son or daughter must be urged to ABSOLUTELY NOT LOOK AT THE DRAWING THEY ARE WORKING ON.  Maybe you already know this, but get an object that is fun, with lots of interesting contours; then, the student moves their hand AS SLOWLY AS THEY MOVE THEIR EYE, while talking out loud to themselves about where they are on the object (“I’m moving to the left, over the left cheek of the plastic lion, now I’ve reached the ear, so my pencil is going to move DOWN to the  left, I’m still moving down the left side, now I’m at the bottom of the ear, so I’m going to turn my pencil so that I make a vertical line, except that I see it is NOT a straight vertical, so I’ll just let my pencil follow what I SEE”).  You might want to try this first, so that you can give good directions.  Remember:  do NOT look at your own drawing, and ONLY MOVE YOUR PENCIL AT THE SAME SPEED THAT YOUR EYE MOVES. This is one of the best drawing exercises, especially if your child is spatially gifted, but if his/her school barely provides any teaching in art skills.  This skill is about learning how “to see” (rather than thinking you have to KNOW (cognitive rather than visual) what everything looks like, or working from a generalized “cartooning” perspective.  Your child certainly has other gifts, as you say, he/she did really well on the MCAS tests.  So, if this doesn’t work out, don’t push it, but you might enjoy it! 

  • Laradcham

    As a mother who has watched her children lugging backpacks with anywhere from 30-50 pounds of books, the I-pad will be a welcome addition if it replaces the need to lug these books. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Going beyond the ipad, technology is being developed where projected images can be interacted with much like the touchscreen of an ipad.

    Imagine a classroom where the students can interact with a projected image on their desk – no lost or broken hardware, no having children transport expensive hardware making them targets for theft. What they do during the day could be pulled to their device at home

    • Don_B1

      Corning Glass has a YouTube video on glass surfaces that do these types of things; how close to commercial availability I don’t know.

  • Shag_Wevera

    Wouldn’t it be great if this wonderful technology could improve education and uplift children?  Wouldn’t it be great if this didn’t become a new method of gouging people for money?

    I remember the textbook racket in college.  Pay $100 for a book and get $12.50 back for it when you sell it back.  Don’t forget a new edition being printed every other year to keep profits rolling in.

    I’m a cynic.  The free market is never satisfied with adequate profit.  Shareholders won’t have it.  This will not be an educational panacea, it will be like everything else in the free market.  Businesses aren’t interested in altruism, your children, or even LONG term profitability anymore.

    • Mike_Card

      My kids were in grade school late 80s, early 90s.  Everyone was all a-twitter over the ‘deal’ the school got on Apple computers.  Educational hardware has a half-life of about 1 year–all it does is serve as gateway ‘drug’ for tech companies to hook kids on the brand.  What 20- or 30-something even knows Apple made computers?

      The real scam is that the taxpayers get to further subsidize tech company marketing expenses.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      “The free market is never satisfied with adequate profit.”

      Adequate Profit is like Regulated Greed, neither exists.

  • Yar

    Big brother looking over the shoulder.  There was a case where the school turned on the camera on a school owned laptop in the student’s home.
    Another point on surveillance, software can track how much time a student spent viewing each screen.  The teacher would have a pretty good idea who read their homework assignment even before the test.

    • ttajtt

      this is called privacy act on us for OUR public safety act.    

    • Wm_James_from_Missouri

      Yar, you have made two good points. You have given me something to think about. Thanks !

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    I’m taking an MITx class – it’s free, with real lectures by a real teacher, forums to interact with other students, homework, haven’t taken first quiz yet, but will soon. Text is online or available for sale (very cheap for a textbook) through Lulu (self publisher). It works very well and there isn’t even a classroom.

  • Nicole Jurkowski

    From 1997 to 2001, I attended Ursuline Academy of Dallas, TX which had just started a “Learning with Laptops” program. This program gave high school students a new laptop to use for notes, classes, and personal use after school since the laptop was part of tuition. Alongside of English and Math we had Java and Internet classes, and our school vaulted ahead of our peers. It was The most valuable training I had as a high school student.

    As it turns out, my childhood “distraction” with using the technology was writing a novel in between classes. That ability to write propelled me into my career as a novelist and through law school to become an Intellectual Property Attorney. As far as I’m concerned, the more technology you can put in the classroom, the more a student can organically follow their interests. Those interest can be anything from expressing themselves, solving their own technological problems, or realizing what can be done to solve the problems of others.

  • J__o__h__n

    Will the ablility to publish e-books end the negative influence of Texas on the nation’s text books as they won’t have to print physical books?

    • DrewInGeorgia


  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Although text books become obsolete, so do computer based systems, so what assurance do we have that planned or unplanned obsolescence won’t force regular major capital purchases?

  • autismtherapist

    Myrtle Beach South Carolina here :) our kindergartners use IPads and our 1st through 3rd use pads and laptops.

  • Rex Henry

    Which lasts longer- an ipad that gets released every year or the related content in a book?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Caller brings up a good point – an ipad requires a lot more administrative effort than a text book. Colleges have IT departments to help kids with their laptops, etc – they’d really need this in high schools and elementary schools as well. And good luck with that in schools that can’t even afford to keep their library open anymore.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Even two years in advance will not address failures in capacity planning which the last caller poignantly described. Schools are not prepared to manage such issues. Sever management is not free, nor is the additional capacity required to support all the data being moved about.

  • DrewInGeorgia

    There were roughly 77 million students in the US as of October 2009. Source:http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/cb11-ff15.html . To make things easier let’s just go ahead and call it 80 million. Adjust that number to compensate for Higher Education and Private School students and I’m guessing we’re down to around forty to fifty million K1-12 Public School children. We’ll call it fifty million to be on the safe side.

    Apple’s Gross profit for 2011 was 45.63 Billion Dollars. Source:http://www.wikinvest.com/stock/Apple_%28AAPL%29/Data/Gross_Profit/2011/Q1 . Each iPad costs Apple around $300.00 to manufacture (slightly more for the iPad 2) according to individual component costs. I’m guessing that currently manufacturing costs are substantially less due to Apple’s constantly increasing purchasing volume. Let’s call it $250.00 a pad for current purposes.

    Public school children would certainly benefit immensely from having access to contemporary technologies. Modern devices should be provided uniformly to ALL students and like Education this should be considered a Right, not a Privilege. So here’s the pitch Apple, listen up:
    Apple’s Profit for 2011 was 45.63 Billion Dollars. There are roughly 50 Million Public School students in the US. It would cost about 12.5 Billion Dollars (plus distribution costs) to provide ALL students with an iPad. Wouldn’t that be a HUGE booster to our woefully under-performing educational system?

    So put your money where your mouth is Apple. You say that as a company you want to make life better for everyone so prove it. For less than one third of one year’s Corporate Profit Apple could literally transform Public Education in the United States.

    Implementation will initially be an issue but that could easily be overcome in a relatively short period of time.

    • Mike_Card

      I salute you for including source references behind your statements.  The trolls who stalk this site denigrate your integrity; I won’t bother to list their screen names, altho I’m guessing you know exactly who I have in mind.

    • Scott Morabito

      Gross profit is all the money Apple collects before it pays for the manufacture of the devices, employees, stores etc.  Its actually 12B. Apple should help out more but they still need to stay profitable in order to innovate.  I don’t remember Google or Amazon re-inventing the industry.  Apple won’t stay on top forever so they’ll use this money to make sure they’re a viable option for a few decades.

      • DrewInGeorgia

        I said “Apple’s Gross profit for 2011 was 45.63 Billion Dollars”. I do understand the meaning of Gross Profit.

        I understand your point but I am always in favor of Non-Profit or Employee Owned. 100% of Net Profit going directly back into the business just seems to make more sense than thirty to forty percent after the vultures finish feeding. Yes I know, I’m crazy.

  • Matt Freedman

    A very interesting discussion – clearly a sea change in education – just curious about how the educators/teachers themselves are being educated for this transformation

  • sseagull

    I’m worried about vendor lock-in. You buy the books or take notes on one, you are forever beholden to Apple or Amazon or whoever you use as a cloud storage provider. They may not be around forever (see Yahoo! Music). Admittedly, this is more of a concern in college than K-12. I have 10-15 year old books and notes I still use – will the apps be around 50 years from now?

    Real books are also easier to use. I can have many open at the same time and flip back and forth between several pages.

    Apps for learning, as the guest is describing, though, may be beneficial. However, will we be gradually replacing teachers with them? I fear we will, further harming the students’ education.

    • TinaWrites

      Really insightful concerns!  Thank you!  My laptop desktop gets so stacked up with open webpages, because, with regular books, my GOOD, helpful habit is to have “many (books) open at the same time and flip back and forth between several pages.  It is so much more awkward, trying to mimic that technique with webpages, yet my way of learning craves it!  And, you’re so right about beloved materials being trapped inside obsolete or now absent software/hardware..  Paragraph 3:  I particularly fear this if education ALSO becomes privatized.  Thanks.

    • Scott Morabito

      Didn’t you have to return books to your class in K-12?

  • Bob Kavanagh

    Training of the teaching staff MUST be thorough and on-going.

    • autismtherapist

      I agree Bob. We have technology in our elementary schools but teachers are unable to use it to any significant benefit. They use the calendar and some programs for math and reading but even these are the equivalent of running a game. Smart Boards sync to IPads etc but limited interaction from students. I am in my 50′s and can barely use the IPad!

  • rachull

    In my experience as both a college and elementary school teacher, use of technology engages the kids on the fringe.  I define some of these kids as introverts (temperamentally), kids who feel as though mainstream forms of education are not for them (i.e. pencil and paper), kids who have particular learning styles and/or special needs, and other groups of kids who are not the “hand-raiser-teacher-pleaser” types.

  • info

    Please talk about how ipads and hyper-connectedness of kids inhibits PATIENCE. It needs to be practiced and none of our cool gadgets assist in this way. Ron Fletcher wrote a great piece on the ipads at BC High in the Globe magazine two weeks ago.

  • Bob_in_RI

    My sixth-grader is lugging around a backpack that can weigh up to 25 lbs. For that reason alone I’d like her to be using more electronic media.

  • rachull

    As both an elementary teacher and a college instructor in an education program I see technology engaging kids who I’d identify as being “on the fringe”.  These are your introverts (temperamentally), kids who have thought of typical forms of learning are not for them (i.e. pencil & paper), kids with particular learning styles and/or special needs, kids for whom English is not their first language.  In typical classrooms the students who are “hand-raiser” and “people-pleaser” types, get their ideas heard and needs met.  In my experiences technology has pulled in ALL students, and not those who are typically heard.

  • kmh5004

    I remember my TI-83 calculator and all the games (tetris, frogger) we used to play on it.  Can’t imagine what we would do with an ipad

    • Steve__T

       If games were locked by parental key/password you would have to do the work first before getting to play. The same as when I was a kid I had to finish my school work before I could go out to play. And play time should be limited also by parents so that there is still some family interaction.

      • carolbz

        Yes, exactly! I have set time limits but cannot disconnect the wireless because it’s needed to upload homework and occasionally to watch videos posted by teachers.  The teen years are already difficult and parents are just starting to get locked out at this age.  This technology has encouraged secrets – although I have the password to get “in”, I wouldn’t know if she had a twitter or facebook account and chose not to tell me.  12 years old is just too young, even with the information about safety being taught at school.

        • Steve__T

           Time for you to go back to school to keep ahead.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      Texas Instruments! That brings back memories.

  • john__riley

    Any school district that provides K-8 students with iPads expecting augmented education is out of touch or out of their minds.  Another case of private interests trumping public priorities.  WBUR:Apple::Fox:GOP?  One of those (occasional) shows that seems a shameless dereliction of journalistic duty.

  • carolbz

    My 8th grader has been using an ipad at school for the past two years.  She does not have the ability to separate school from games, friends, and other fun apps.  The ipad has caused incredible tension and arguments in our house, and I have to monitor her constantly.  I have become a nag (“are you working on homework?”) where I was once comfortable knowing her work was finished before she got free time on the computer. 

    • DrewInGeorgia

      Have her grades suffered? Just curious if there is a correlation in the disruption at home and your child’s potential to learn.

      • carolbz

        Her grades have suffered because of missing homework – not finished because I insist on bedtime as usual even if homework isn’t finished.  Usually it’s not finished because she’s spent ipad time chatting with friends or playing.  She’s only dropped from solid 100% to about 94%.  I would not say she’s “failling” in any way and still has incredible potential.  It’s not affected her intelligence. I simply think that middle school is too early to encourage the family “disconnect” that comes with this technology.  The ability to make good choices in time management is far easier when your homework is not mixed in with the rest of what the ipad has to offer. 

        • DrewInGeorgia

           The chat and gaming abilities should be made non-functional prior to a student receiving the device, at least that’s my opinion. Any chatting should be study related and chat interface should only be available through a dedicated Educational Interaction service. facebook and other Social Media should be inaccessible from the get go. Educational materials (including pads and tablets) would see far less misuse if they remained the tools they were intended to be as opposed to the toys that they seem to become. I’m glad to hear that her grades haven’t fallen through the floor, best of luck with her continuing education.

        • Scott Morabito

          The problem here is that your tools were setup without controls turned on.  I own a company that works with schools to set these up properly. Imagine being handed out school books with cartoons and games stapled onto the back

    • notafeminista

      She has the ability.  She doesn’t have the desire.

      • carolbz

        Does not have the frontal lobe development, therefore does not have the ability; http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124119468

        • notafeminista

          Angry Birds (Facebook,Words with Friends, texting etc) or Algebra?    You hit the nail on the head when you said “fun” apps.

          The 8th grader knows the difference.  Algebra isn’t “fun”.

          It would be interesting to know however, how many parents asked for iPads to be included in the curriculum and how many had it foisted upon them without consulting whether or not it was the best learning path for his/her student.

  • Craig Callahan

    I am listening from Danville Indiana regarding ipads in classroom. No big revelations. Danville High school is two years  into figuring out how to best utilize tablet technology. There are positives and negatives. I am glad we have them but not happy with the utilization at this point. There is a learning curve for everyone and our children will be ahead in the use of technology. I hope they will improve the education experience and outcomes….not sold on that part yet. It may be a gee wiz thing in end? I hear neat concepts on how tablets can work but not hearing of real world experiences applying the concepts yet.

    Teachers and their training on the most effective use of tablet technology is probably of huge importance and lacking in Danville. Teachers heads are swimming.

    • Rob Kovi

       Craig you make a great point, potentially the most important. Teachers need training. They need to learn to shift their practice because the simple addition of a tablet will not work if they do not know how to use it or continue to use traditional techniques

  • autismtherapist

    Steve is not allowing for brain plasticity and the evolution of learning. Like it or not our younger generations are not engaged by the human voice. They communicate and listen via technology.

    • john__riley

      “Like it or not our younger generations are not engaged by the human voice.”  Some people with pretensions to public concern might say that seems like a problem.

  • TinaWrites

    Meghna!  You gave me such an insight!  This is HOW Faux News works:  it distorts “foundational knowledge” about our economy, or how governance works, etc.; yet it bathes viewers in a sense that they are themselves such “critical thinkers” about these very matters!!!  Faux News feeds them toxins and falsehoods, often contradictory, or comprised of false syllogisms, and then, as I said, Faux sums everything up with what sounds like “critical thinking”, which viewers then spout as they go about the rest of their day, forgoing listening to other news stations, or reading papers with alternate POVs, etc.  That’s why the reasoning is so false, yet so circular, with no one who engages in that kind of behavior blinking an eye.  Woe for our country!

  • Barry Burkett

    OOOOH! I <3 this program!  I'm an Adult Educator in Frankfort, KY and we use iPads, laptops and desktops in our class. As Daniel Willingham and Shayne Evans have mentioned tech is tools in a classroom, as are books, paper and pencil.

    I work in a highly successful AE program in Kentucky, ranked 11 out of 120. I believe that technology has helped us do so. In using word processors, and the ability to "share" documents, students are able to group edit writing. In so doing students are then able to  focus on refining their verbiage and not on simply rewriting drafts.

    Further use of technology, working with Verizon I ran an experiment where students were able to take Samsung Galaxy with 3G access. I gave students the topic, "Was Lincoln a racist?" Students researched on the internet, were able to access the local library virtually and hold books, as well as begin to write their response.

    Technology allows students to engage on a different level. Facebook and texting are valuable literacy tools, incorporating edited materials and requiring reporting has made my students more successful. Student success can be measured in passing the GED, better able to help their children in the public schools, successful transitions to University and getting better jobs.

    Leaving thought: at one point people were taught how to read time by the sun. Education no longer teaches people to read by sundial. Education needs to train youth for the future, technology is the future.

  • geraldfnord

    Apple’s ‘walled garden’ approach to software and ability to directly alter the device’s system is entirely appropriate to [unprecocious] children, as appropriate to that case as it were galling to any adult’s better sentiments.

  • Hmccabe004

    How about keeping ipad use to “technology” class and get back to more classical forms of teacher-lead education in other core classes….there is enough technology in our lives and no long term proof that this new age of learning via technology pays off.

  • Barry Burkett

    Also, I think the topic is quite focused. The question should be more broad and to include technology, an iPad is just one tool in the chest.

  • J__o__h__n

    I don’t see what the problem is with students goofing off and multi-tasking during class.  It will be great preparation for the workplace.

  • Nancy Weichert

    Concerning your reference to the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus, we must not forget the importance of the librarian. Librarians teach information literacy skills, that are critical in the information age – access, evaluate, use, manage, cite. 

    Finding and using information on the web today is like trying to take a drink from a fire hydrant. 

    • Steve__T

       You forgot the most important; Librarians teach Organizational skills. If you don’t learn the the way things are organized or how to organize, you are lost, therein lies the ability to find things you are looking for. It also helps that drink from the hydrant, turns it into more of a faucet you have control over.

  • Reverend Rhythms

    On Point sounded a lot like an infomercial this morning. Not sure if it’s the unusually perky voice of the guest host, or the overly polished presentation of Mr. Evans, but my antennae were shakin’.

    • john__riley

       Amen, Reverend.  I hadn’t realized On Point was for sale.

  • ttajtt

    i for one will shut the f-up for now on.   Remember this is bugged-tapped-followed…, in the name of national security.  whos’ ? but no more old growth trees of 2000 years old or alike.  mother earth will roll over soon.  this is bad talk, of our lives to come.  no freedom of speech talk unless bad words of seeds.  the rich needs its slaves or poor, to live their life style. 

    So i ask, “The True Creature God, Bless You with common sense for wise decisions and The Living Holy Sprite protect you from the evil one. 
    May your will be with The everything and anything that happens under the sun so that it has its reason and purpose.  so it all may pass.” 

    Matt: 5, on the mark of sin says to cut in off and cast it a way.

    wireless is the evil ones sprite, how else will it be anywhere and everywhere all the time like its creature.

  • Margaret Bailey-Cooley

    My daughter’s high school has iPad for the classroom. It seems difficult for the teachers to use it effectively in class – which leads to the students using it for purposes other than intended.

    From my child – she finds it unnecessary for the most part.  Also inconvenient because of lack of proper infrastructure for use of iPad.  I think some of these schools go for the grants without thinking through the long run, ie.  printing, saving documents, uploading into tools already in place.

    • SarahAES

      I agree…the completely new way of teaching and the lesson plans for USING the tools should be in place, purchased with grant $$ BEFORE passing out the technology like another worksheet.

  • http://twitter.com/GoodeReads Digital Magazines

    Thank you for reminding us that content is more important than the technology used to deliver it.

  • Gladys Meyer

    My grandson is in third grade.  I wonder whether he is ready to learn ‘similes’, ‘metaphors’ and other terms which I do not remember ever learning.  And the math is more complicated, too. 

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HDSC2GIYZDIVWPQCECTBACJSEA D

      They are not that difficult. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/RIFA3QXPIWZF6Z5N76C57OM3S4 Paul

    The only Tarts I knew popped a long time ago! =)

  • http://twitter.com/luciagrigoli Lucia Grigoli

    Firstly, as a student, I believe it is imperative that students are involved in this discussion as well. You should be asking for our opinions too, not just parents and teachers.
    It’s essential to use technology (such as iPads) in the classroom. School prepares you for life in the real world, and in the real world we have to deal with technology constantly, distractions and all. However, we have to make sure that education transforms along with the use of technology. With edtech, teaching can’t remain the same as it’s been. Lectures and textbooks aren’t pertinent anymore, with so much information on our fingertips. We need more PBL and critical thinking skills.

  • Kathryn Elalouf

    I taught for 7 years in public high school in Georgia.  We DO need to emphasize critical thinking–so we need to STOP making students memorize so much.  With info at their fingertips 24/7, they need to know where to find info and how to use it.  This would involve ridding the system of “standardized tests” based on rote memorization.

    Tablets can be an awesome tool for motivating students.  But, again, we need to use them for authentic work.

  • greenelephant1

    What an annoying and unbalanced show.  How much funding are you receiving from the tech companies (one of the issues with the funding of research on laptop/i-pad effectiveness).  The softball questions skirted difficult questions/issues and seemed to consistently tried to put a positive spin–as someone noted below, it sounded like an infomercial.  I listened to the interviewer essentially defend and support this pro-ipad stance. 

    I taught for 4 years at a laptop high school and my son now has a laptop at his school.  I think its a waste of important resources.  I am very tech savvy and have taken many online courses, so I have no issue with technology.  Its a great resource, but a low return when generalized to the total population of school age kids.

    It takes a uniquely skilled teacher to facilitate appropriate leveraging of technology such as laptops/ipads.  The PD investment is huge and the question is what is your content?  Are we rewarding clear instructional practice focused on essential questions/enduring understanding related to content or tech use?

    Repeatedly I’ve seen tech/ipads turn into a large entertainment device–an obstacle to classroom learning.  I’ve heard more than a couple of parents be thankful when their child’s computer was unavailable (broken or taken for disciplinary reasons) because its the first time the technology stops invading/distracting their child.

    This is just a money maker.  The show/interview was a disservice to listeners–it should have included a warning that it was just a commercial for the computer/tablet makers.

    • Scott Morabito

      These tools are in their infancy and kids will always be distracted – don’t blame entirely it on the tools.  I own a company that deploys these devices in schools and they can be controlled to a degree to prevent distractions. I think poor teachers can rely on these tools as a crutch – in reality there should be a good balance of technical and non technical learning.

  • Grace X

    As I high school student myself, I’m excited for the possibilities that come with technology in school. I can do worksheets without using actual paper and submit test electronically with instant feedback. There are endless resources at my fingertips and a hundred ways of exploring them. Technology helps us learn by making content more engaging and available. I’m thankful for it in so many ways.

  • pariahartsltd

    I taught for 6 years in Milwaukee. My two main concerns are the linearity of thought that technology teacher and that students are being taught in a second, third, fourth, and so on perspective instead of the first. 

    From a linear stand point, the ability to ask a good investigative question is being lost. How many times have you heard a student say, do you know an answer to a question, and the reply is, google it. Students no longer know how to dig into a question with more questions and discourse. Everything is taught directly. Instead of the students actually learning through discovering and activity, they are flat out being told. This gives them the results be none of the means. It gives them the answer but not how the answer is derived. 

    This brings me to the point of, if we are truly trying to educate students, then why are we not allowing them to do the activities we are giving the answers to. Have them truly learn instead of just being told, “This is the way it is.” 

    Technology isn’t the answer its a distraction or an easy way out. If we want to increase education, we need to allow the students to learn from the activities and exercises. Spend millions of dollars on the actual materials for the actual activities as apposed to the virtual linear representations.  

  • WardCheney

    I’m skeptical of iPads in the classroom. For one, what will be the true cost, in dollars, of these devices? There will be the software, internet service, data fees, “books,” software, software updates, professional training, IT staff, broken ipads, and, as sure as the sun comes up, new ipads every year or two.

    I look over my shoulder at the books on the shelves and some are over a hundred years old. All I have to do is take it down, open it up, and away I go. Imagine the number of iPads one would have on one’s shelves after a century. Take one down, open it up, and there will probably be a blank screen.

  • Naveed Zafar

    the decline in social skills within children of today, I feel the issue
    is much more complicated than some realize. In the sense of
    “traditional social skills” I 100% agree that there is a decline in the
    young generation’s skill set. However, if we consider the internet and
    the mass amounts of unfiltered thoughts, expressions, and most
    importantly criticism that is floating around, it should be clear that
    people(including the young generation) are actually getting increased
    exposure to the reality of human nature. 50 years ago, maybe kids were
    able to talk with others more freely but that is only because they
    weren’t aware of how critical other humans can be at some times. This
    could be a hint to why the young generation choose to express themselves
    behind the facade of technology instead of having to confront the harsh
    realities of human nature upfront and personal.

  • DigDug2k

    I have no problem with this, but I hate seeing these schools giving money to Apple. Ignoring all the problems with their patent litigation, by building their platforms into walled gardens, the company is basically trying to build a class system in the tech world, and that system specifically hurts the very kids these programs are trying to help (i.e. kids who don’t have this tech at home already).

    As a result, rather than fighting back against walled gardens which disproportionately hurt poorer children, the programs are giving money to support them (and inhibiting user choice in the process). I’d love to see these schools invest in helping to build systems that are free and open for everyone. Perhaps by teaching these students how to build something better!

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/NRK7GUSNUMX7DXEBMNXARMPT3U Nelson Cole

      This is a good point. I would like to see school districts using and promoting Linux, and resist Apple’s closed and proprietary architecture. Students would be better able to understand how computers work and the schools could customize the software more.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/SMVAVLH455ZBRPYB235FUOUCPQ Michael

      Well, the reality is that in education that usually their usually more money spent on the hardware and less spent on providing professional development and technology support.  That being said, while it is true that Apple is proprietary they also provide stores that will provide support and training for students and teachers.  

      I agree with you that it would be nice for students to have something free and open that they could perhaps build and support, but the reality is that teachers are required to teach state standards and prepare students for tests.

    • Scott Morabito

      As I recall, anyone can make an app for the iPad.  There’s a reason schools and company’s don’t give a way Linux devices to regular (non-tech) staff.  These things need to be easy to use and Apple has provided this.  I don’t recall Google or Amazon re-inventing the market before Apple did.  Perhaps Apple’s approach is relative to  their reach.

  • Matt Levi

    Why wouldn’t for profit educational institutions push for high priced classroom gadgets?  It’s more money they get to bilk out of tax payers.

  • Justine McNeilly

    With technology today, it all seems to be about instant gratification.  To truly master something however, it takes time, hard work, and dedication. If students have tons of exposure to instant gratification through technology and have everything at their finger tips, how are they going to have the skills to embark on a new idea or discovery?

  • Jennifer Lamborn

    I am a high school English teacher.  I’ve noticed that the increase in technology has changed the teacher/student dynamic.  I learn WITH my students–our classroom is developing into a true collaborative environment. My students teach me, but I also must ensure that they become “literate online.”  Assessing search results, understanding and navigating the structure of a website, evaluating for bias, relevance and reliability are the new “literacies” that require critical thinking skills.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HDSC2GIYZDIVWPQCECTBACJSEA D

    Anytime I hear someone comment “When I lecture….” I shudder. Who lectures anymore? Research shows it is the least effective method of teaching. 

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  • Regular_Listener

    I am surprised that not much was said about the cost of these tablet computers.  Many kids have a tendency to break, lose, and abuse things that schools provide to them.  It would take an ongoing budget & personnel to protect and maintain these devices.  Books and photocopies are not dead – they can be stored and reused. 

    I have seen some schools use these cumbersome computer stations where all the computers are tethered in and locked.  It takes time to get everybody set up, and there are often technical problems…  But I’m not against using computers in schools – no, it is necessary, and I agree with both guests who seem to have a clear-eyed perspective on the both the value and limitations of computers in the classroom.

    What would be really nice would be if you could give each kid a cheap,
    easily replaced tablet, and store their work on the internet!  

  • Jason

    http://www.quizmeonline.net is also a great educational app!

Aug 22, 2014
Attorney General Eric Holder talks with Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol at Drake's Place Restaurant, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, in Florrissant, Mo. (AP)

The National Guard and Eric Holder in Ferguson. ISIS beheads an American journalist. Texas Governor Rick Perry gets a mug shot. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Aug 22, 2014
In this image from video posted on Facebook, courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, former President George W. Bush participates in the ice bucket challenge with the help of his wife, Laura Bush, in Kennebunkport, Maine. (AP)

The Ice Bucket Challenge: ALS, viral fundraising and how we give in the age of social media.

Aug 22, 2014
In this image from video posted on Facebook, courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, former President George W. Bush participates in the ice bucket challenge with the help of his wife, Laura Bush, in Kennebunkport, Maine. (AP)

The Ice Bucket Challenge: ALS, viral fundraising and how we give in the age of social media.

Aug 22, 2014
Attorney General Eric Holder talks with Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol at Drake's Place Restaurant, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, in Florrissant, Mo. (AP)

The National Guard and Eric Holder in Ferguson. ISIS beheads an American journalist. Texas Governor Rick Perry gets a mug shot. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

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