This blog post will explore reasons why the iPad might be the perfect technology tool in our schools today, providing teachers with 10 concrete ideas for using them in the classroom RIGHT NOW.
Why an iPad and not a netbook? Here are 7 reasons:
- The iPad has a very responsive Multi-Touch screen, a strong advantage over using a touchpad or external mouse.
- The iPad has accessibility built in. It comes with a screen reader, support for playback of closed-captioned content, and universal zoom feature which provides magnification of the entire screen of any application. There is even support for a wireless braille display and international braille tables.
- The iPad is more streamlined, portable, and cool.
- The iPad boots up much faster, since it uses a solid-state hard drive.
- The iPad is optimized for its hardware–the operating system was designed for the device.
- The iPad video display is a large, high-resolution LED backlit IPS display.
- The iPad can stay charged for an entire school day, with a 10 hour battery life.
Reading: The iPad makes an excellent ebook, magazine, or any document reader, as the color screen is vibrant and readable in almost any kind of lighting. Books can be transferred to the Apple iBook app, using ePub or PDF formats. The color screen is especially appealing when displaying picture books and other media such as magazines. The advantages to students would be: (1) not having to lug around heavy books, (2) having all textbooks on one device, (3) being able to take and share notes, (4) automatic bookmarks when returning to the book, and (5) potential cost savings versus purchasing books.
Listening/Viewing: Students can download podcasts, music, and other media (iTunes U anyone?) for instant listening and viewing through the iTunes store. They can also view YouTube and other image/video sharing services.
Conduct On-Demand Research: The Safari browser is quick and easy to use, allowing students to conduct quick research to answer questions, watch videos, read and save webpages, search for resources in online library databases, share ideas with their Facebook friends–just about everything they can do on a traditional computing device.
Organizing: Students can learn and apply digital organization skills through working with the iPad and discovering ways they can streamline content collection, access, and redundancy. Show them Dropbox as one way they can save and access content through multiple devices.
Publication: Students can post and publish content to their blogs and other websites, either using the browser interface or specialized apps for blogs.
Communicate/Collaborate: Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader, Evernote, and other social apps are all available through the iPad for sharing information, receiving updates, and conducting research. The email app built-in to the iPad is intuitive and handy.
Facilitate Note taking: Evernote is a great way to take notes on the iPad (yes, there’s an app for that). Students can have all of their notes organized, along with their “textbooks” to study and review. There are also apps that allow the user to handwrite on the device, using either their finger or a specialized stylus. This would provide another way for students to write instead of having to keyboard.
Offer Individualized instruction: As a teacher, you know that not all students are on the same page or at the same level. By identifying students who need extra help or those who are bored and need to move forward, the iPad can provide the platform for additional curricular paths and challenges. Entire courses could become less dependent upon the teacher, with students identifying their interests, needs, and ways they can accomplish their goals.
Teach Personal responsibility: I’ve heard this before, that students won’t take care of technology tools. I don’t agree with that. If students had their own technology tools, they would learn how to take care of them and be responsible for ethical use of these devices. This is another great reason to support individual student ownership of technology devices–the opportunity to actively demonstrate and teach standards for appropriate use and care. We hear a lot about personal responsibility–ownership of an iPad would greatly facilitate this.
Gaming: Yes, the iPad can also be used for gaming, with many games available that would supplement a curricular unit. With a little creativity and no effort to get students to engage, the iPad can be a compelling reason to incorporate games in the classroom.