Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tackling Technology: iPads in the Classroom

By Amy Esselman
technology in the classroom

I saved up for weeks to buy an iPad. There was something so sleek and new about them. I had to have one.

I love technology. It fascinates me. I’m consistently amazed with the tools and capabilities of new products. I’m equally if not more amazed by the ease with which young people—even children and toddlers—use them. Tech-savvy students and kids can seamlessly transition from product to product, regardless of format or characteristics—it all comes naturally. Have you seen the YouTube video of the baby who thinks a magazine is an iPad? It seems at every age, an iPad is recognizable. We are living in a very different world.

It makes sense to me, then, that technology is finding its way into classrooms. I know what you’re thinking—it’s about time, right?

Yes and no. Technology is great, but only when it’s relevant.

I’m all for students learning with the help of technology and tools, but certain things still make me nervous.

In the midst of schools incorporating these sleek new tools into their classrooms, it’s important to distinguish how they should be used. As useful as they are, I don’t want iPads to dominate the room all the time. Sure, they will definitely make an impact. They will definitely make learning more fun, and obviously more convenient. But, there is still something to be said about hands-on methods—getting your hands dirty with knowledge, so to speak.

I think introducing technology to students will undoubtedly help excite and motivate them. However, there should be some collaboration and combination of methods. Not computers all the time, and not lectures 24/7, either. There can be a happy technology medium. It’s great for research, presentations and interactions, but experiments, and artwork should still be reserved for a less digital world.

It’s been over a month since I bought my iPad, and I’m still learning new things with it. It has features and apps that will keep me busy for years. It’s the perfect companion to supplement any activity—for pictures, notes, lists, videos, music. It clearly has a place in the classroom—and will no doubt change how students interact with learning materials, but we still should to be careful not to rely too heavily on it. We want students to be able to use an iPad, but they still need to be able to navigate a magazine!

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