In a generation of iPads, and iPhones, we are currently living in the iWorld. With technology that previous generations would have considered the work of science fiction, how does society discern best educational methods in regards to teaching with these new devices? Does it become a question of moral responsibility to teach with these devices due to their common use in society and the workforce? Or, is it the educator’s responsibility to research and discern scientific study of the devices and abide by it.
The debate as to implement iPads in the classroom, or to stick to traditional educational utensils such as hard cover books continues to be a contested debate for researchers and educators alike. Through the analysis of scholarly articles, this paper will examine the benefits and disadvantages to using iPads in the classroom. Though this topic is varied in nature, this examination will focus on three attributing factors in this debate: the cost and financial implications of iPads in both an educational and commercial setting, childhood health and screen time research, and impact on iPad usage with the implementation of new teaching strategies.
Before beginning the debate regarding iPad usage in classroom, one must first analyze the ability for a school district to first obtain this technology for their students. In addition, one must also examine the financial aspect from the motivation of the producer, the organization. “Digital classrooms have been on the rise for some time, with Google, Apple and other hardware companies vying to get their laptops and/or tablets into the hands of elementary school students”.
From the perspective of the producer, the benefits of iPads in the classroom are twofold. The first perspective is one of genuine interest in the quality of a child’s education. However, the other possible motivation is the financial longevity of the company by securing contracts with school districts. “A contract with a school or district is inherently valuable, but also has far-reaching value in terms of consumer loyalty”. As lucrative as securing school districts is for an organization’s bottom line, there is perhaps another consumer the tech organizations are interested in securing.
“’These companies know that it’s very important to build mind share at a very early age,’ said Linn Huang, a research director at the International Data Corporation, a market research firm known as IDC”. What does this data mean in regards to the influence in iPad implementation within the educational arena? “Of the 12.4 million tablets and laptops shipped to primary and secondary schools in the United States last year, Chromebooks accounted for 58 percent of the market, compared with a negligible share in 2012, according to IDC”. This data establishes an interesting point in regards to iPad usage in an educational setting, in comparison to a leisure setting. The recent sales data suggests Chromebooks have actually surpassed the percentage of implementation of iPads in an educational setting.
This statistic could occur for several reasons. “Alice Chen, an eighth grade language arts teacher in California, says she can see how the lack of a keyboard, an additional cost for schools, could be a deal-breaker. ‘In any kind of a literacy classroom where a keyboard is going to be important, a Chromebook will win in that effect, because a Chromebook is an all-in-one package,’ Chen says”. If Chromebooks provide a more cost savvy option for implementation in an educational setting, why is the iPad still the reigning tech champion in the educational ring? Once again, the answer rests not as a question of cost effectiveness for the school, but the opposite.
“Apple generates the most revenue from school hardware sales in the United States, partly because its devices cost more”. From this perspective, what once appeared as the popularity of the iPad in the educational setting is actually a farce, led by the price tag of the product rather than the actual amount of use in the educational setting. From a financial perspective, the use of iPad in the classroom is neither as utilized, or cost effective as initially thought.
“Technology is rapidly changing how educators engage students, deliver content, and manage the traditional classroom”.Though not as cost effective as it’s counterpart the Chromebook, the iPad still manages to make it’s way into classrooms. “Even as schools tighten their budgets and teachers spend their own money on classroom supplies, spending for education technology continues to rise”. This rise in classroom technology does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon. Due to this drastic and sudden change in the classroom environment, the iPad has revolutionized the classroom, as well as the pedagogy itself. This is due to the way Apple has marketed the iPad brand, the way classroom material is presented has changed.
“’Our place at the intersection of technology and the liberal arts makes it possible for us to create powerful products and tools that amplify learning and creativity,’ said Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive”. Though not as cost effective as other methods of technology, the iPad has introduced a new level of educational independence for students. “New technology like the Apple iPad has enormous educational implications because it makes learning portable, mobile, and accessible”.
This methodology and devotion to creativity in product design and marketing has flipped the education scene by introducing enhanced methods for differentiated student learning in the modern classroom. By taking a common classroom learning utensil such as a worksheet, iPads takes the traditional, and makes them more tailored to the individualized students’ needs. “Students learn content and practice a variety of basic skills while they move through various levels at their own pace. Although the students have devices, this lesson is basically a digital worksheet”.
Though revolutionizing the way classroom content is presented to the student, does the iPad produce increased academic results? “Research examining the use of devices, such as handheld prompting systems, indicates the potential to decrease one’s reliance on external prompting to complete tasks; however, to date, limited studies have examined how technology can be used as instructional tools to improve independent task completion”.
Though the increase in academic independence by the student should be applauded, how does this factor translate into gains in academic success? By analyzing the following research study of iPads in classrooms, one may gain a better grasp on how this new sense of educational independence translates directly into academic success. Teachers reported that the intervention allowed the students to make progress toward learning goals and objectives that they had not yet been able to master using traditional instructional methods. Teachers expressed that their participation in the iPad study enhanced their teaching skills and improved students’ interest in the content”.
In addition to a greater expressed interest in the academic content by the students, educators also remarked about the ease of use for student needs. “Lauren Holloway, a special education preschool teacher at Booth Elementary in Elmira, NY says, ‘The iPad is portable, durable, and conducive to activities where just a pointer finger is used.’ She adds that, ‘The inherent interactive features of an iPad are far more likely to engage both students who have an aversion to more traditional teaching methods, and those with attentional difficulties’”.
From this perspective, two factors may be attributed to the increase in iPad usage in the educational setting. Firstly, the use as a tool for academic independence due to an increase interest in content. Secondly, the iPad was utilized as a resource rather than a curriculum within the classroom. This means, the students were not solely relying on the iPad for the entirety of their educational experiences. Rather, the iPad served as a resource to supplement classroom goals and curriculum.
In addition to revolutionizing the way pedagogy is implemented in the classroom, the iPad has also changed the way educators manage daily classroom tasks. “Matt Wdowiarz, a fifth grade teacher in Winfield, Illinois says an iPad helps him save time from grading, returning papers, and printing papers. Still, the school uses Google Classroom as a management software and iPads for hardware”. Perhaps this multi-faceted use may be attributed to the initial creativity discussed previously by the Apple team. “The specialized features make it an appropriate tool for classroom instruction and offer opportunities for innovative instructional interventions”.
These efficient traits developed for the iPad make it an excellent candidate for both pupil and educator. Though the factor of cost has been analyzed in relation to implementation in the classroom, implementation also becomes determined by the individual teacher’s philosophy about technology usage in the classroom. “According to Ertmer, there are two types of barriers to technology integration within a school: first-order and second-order. Whereas, first-order barriers refer to the extrinsic factors that obstruct technology implementation, second-order barriers refer to the intrinsic elements, including teachers’ opinions and beliefs about technology, visions of technology integration, and level of confidence in using technology”.
The financial aspect of implementation has been previously analyzed. However, with a positive academic response, why would teachers still remain a secondary barrier to implementation, or at a minimum, a technological trial? “According to Malouf and Schiller, social validity data can serve an essential role in understanding, and possibly alleviating, potential obstacles in the successful adoption of evidence-based practices”. Therefor, if educators remain steadfast in their view of iPads as a means of leisure, students will have less access to the particular form of technology in the classroom, in this case, the iPad.
Though iPads have proven themselves as a worthy candidate for classroom use despite boasting a higher price tag than their chromebook counterparts, there still remains hesitancy by educators to implement this technology due to research regarding young children, and increased increments of screen time. “Young people who spend seven hours or more a day on screens are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety than those who use screens for an hour a day”. Though the results of this startling study is enough for any adult to yank away a child’s devices, the results continue to raise even more questions about screen time and pediatric health. In the new study, National Institutes of Health researchers, looking at brain scans of 4,500 study participants who were 9 and 10 years old, found differences in the brains of children who used smartphones, tablets, and video games more than seven hours a day, “60 Minutes” reported Sunday. The preliminary results from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study showed a pattern of thinning of the brain’s cortex”.
Though this study has analyzed both the cost and the educational aspect of the iPad in the educational system, how can one morally begin to balance the positive qualities of an educational device, if the social outcome is so severe? Perhaps the answer to the implementation of iPads in the classroom may be found somewhere in the grey area of compromise. “Many of these same negative trends also turned up to a lesser degree among young people who used screens for four hours a day. Also, adolescents seemed to have more problems than younger kids as a result of heavy screen use”.
Though iPads have proven themselves as valuable educational tools, their use in the classroom is just that: a tool. Through this analysis, it has become apparent that the valor of the iPad is found not so much in the iPad itself, but how it is used in an student-appropriate manner. “Technology and access to information aren’t the most important factors in creating twenty-first-century classroom; teachers are. The power of the teacher comes not the information she shares but from the opportunities she creates for students to learn how to learn, solve problems, and apply learning in meaningful ways”.
By being sensitive to classroom budgets, as well as child screen time, the modern educator does not need to fear technology implementation in their classroom, they merely have to understand how technology can be used to accentuate to positive teaching experiences already implemented in the classroom. “If we only focus on the latest programs, makerspaces or the devices rather than on creating powerful learning experiences that align with the type of skills and character traits we want students to develop, we will continue to perpetuate the same norms in education with more expensive tools”.
The “iWorld” filled with technology is not going away. The classroom of the 70’s and 80’s have long since disappeared. Children are now experiencing their world through the usage of technology. “According to a report in the New York Times last year, more than half of all US children use Google apps, while Chromebooks account for half of new devices bought by schools”. With such positive results in some quadrants of education due to the implementation of iPads in the classroom, how can a well-informed educator balance the negatives as well? By utilizing the research regarding the implementation of iPads, educators and administrators may appropriately act in the best interest of the students. By being sensitive to student experiences, school budgets, and pediatric health, iPads can remain a positive academic resource for students.