This fall, the backpacks of student’s across the country will be that much lighter thanks to the introduction of the iPad into the classroom.
It’s out with the old and in with the new, it seems.
iPad’s may have been introduced as an innovative new toy to occupy tech-savvy consumers, but now the popular electronic tablet has made its way into classrooms around the country.
Public secondary school districts from Connecticut to Boston to Kentucky have already introduced the iPad as a high tech supplement to the curriculum, moving away from bulkier, traditional textbooks.
At Burlington High in suburban Boston, principal Patrick Larkin told the Associated Press that the $500 iPad is a better long-term investment than textbooks. However, he said the school will still use traditional texts in some courses if suitable electronic programs aren't yet available.
The iPad, introduced by Apple Inc. in spring 2010, has already become a fixture on many college campuses.
More than 600 public secondary school districts have launched what are called "one-to-one" programs, in which at least one classroom of students is getting iPads for each student to use throughout the school day, Apple officials say. Nearly two-thirds of them have begun since July, the company adds.
Educators in favor of the tech upgrade say the tablet’s interactive programs will help engage students, who grew up with emerging technology as party of their daily lives. Applications include interactive programs that demonstrate problem-solving in math, scratch pad features for note-taking and bookmarking, video tutorials spanning topics from historical events to learning foreign languages, and the ability to transfer homework and quizzes directly to teachers.
iPads have also become popular tools for children with autism and learning disabilities, and for those who learn better when something is explained with visual images over verbal explanation alone.
While the response from students is likely one of approval, some skeptics worry that the push away from traditional textbooks could end up costing school districts more, especially in the face of a nation-wide budget crunch, when factoring in the costs for repairs, maintenance and tech-support.
They argue that even with such a sophisticated device at their disposal, school districts must not overlook the need for a solid curriculum and skilled teachers.