Sure, gadgets are great. We all want the latest and greatest phone… the one that can take a picture, help us find our way out of a straw maze, help us avoid the restaurant where everyone got food poisoning, and so on… But sometimes gadgets come out and we’re not sure how they will change the way we do things – from every day tasks to complex functions. Lately, we’ve been experiencing a gadget-first, application-second mentality. Take the iPhone and iPad for instance… those devices came out with limited applications. It wasn’t long before the market learned how to leverage their novel features such as the gyroscope and GPS. Eventually, the market was flooded with a bevy of apps that ranged from the absurd to the magnificent.
But many of these devices don’t get to a critical mass until they acquire a business following (think about the BlackBerry and office e-mail). The same might be true for achieving critical mass within the education space. If a number of schools proven the iPad is worthy of classroom integration, then I would expect many more schools to follow suit – and quickly. Adopting the iPad might be a way for universities to demonstrate their cultural savvy and educational innovation through early adoption. Early adopters grab the headlines and get all the good press.
So it should be no surprise then, that there are a number of schools testing out the iPad in the classroom.
Last year, a number of schools tested ereaders with little success. Common issues such as the inability to easily take notes and highlight text proved to derail many of the trials. But, as this technology advances, and new applications address these challenges, more schools are looking to take advantage of these devices. U.S. News recently reported that a number of business schools are looking to the iPad as a classroom tool – not for the convenience of the device alone – but for some of the new apps that are accompanying it. You can read the article here.
While there was a positive response at many of these schools, there are still challenges. Two such challenges include the issue of the iPad being a distraction (are you really taking notes, or are you surfing Facebook); and the issue of typing on a small touchscreen device (versus a full size keyboard or a paper/pen).
I believe that as long as students have multiple options in the classroom, we’ll have the best level of success. Learning styles vary greatly, so forcing a particular pedagogical method that focuses on a single technology is almost doomed from the start. After all, technology can come with a heavy price tag. At what point does an iPad at $600 and it’s $60 a month network access fee justify retiring the $2 Bic and a spiral notebook combo?
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At American Public University, students are priority one. We are committed to providing quality education, superior student resources, and affordable tuition. In fact, while post-secondary tuition has risen sharply nationwide, the university continues to offer affordable tuition without sacrificing academic quality.