I think iPads and other fast response tablets can be a big asset for education, but most particularly at the grade levels where visual and tactile learning is developed most. I work in college level and have several students bring their own iPads to my math and physics classes (I use two Windows convertible tablet one small to move around). Some used it to take notes but the writing result was no good, so I told them how to make their own sharp iPad styli with conductive material (it works better than rubber styli) to take notes, which in turn were mostly the diagram we discuss when solving problems. At some moments they become distracted but that will depend how engaging you make the class. I used a Studio style of teaching where lecture, experiments or handout work and discussions of problems and real-life situations are intersped throughout the class time. One thing we do is use the iPads as shareable whiteboards, we discuss a problem or situation and they go to work in their iPads, in the end they share wirelessly their result with the others. So, it is a matter or full engagement, appropiate tools and apps, and skills development activities, and iPads or any other tablet could become a good teaching enhancement tool in the class and out of class. For lower grade levels the iPad apps are very good, for upper levels there still many room for development, at this point I prefer Android and Windows tablets and apps.
I LOVE your idea of sharable whiteboards! That would be a wonderful way to comapre thinking, build discussion, create and monitor expectations, and that is just my thinking now.
I think using iPads in the classroom give a huge advantage due to its countless apps...
Our high school has an iPad lab. The students are definately engaged and excited about using them. For some things the iPad does help. For example the Psych students are studying the brain. One of the apps that the class used allowed students to manipulate and really "see" the different sections of the brain.
I am not a huge fan of ipads in the classroom and do not necessarily believe they will enhance the educational environment, especially for those students who have learning disabilities. First, hyperstimulation. There are so many apps, colors, items flying in and out, and animations, it is difficult for students to concentrate on the information itself. One of the reasons why textbooks are designed the ways they are is to make sure the important information is ease to recognize by using a specific font or font size. Another reason is the lack of the ability to make little notes and other indicating signs when reading. You can’t just make little notes off to the side, swiggles, or any symbols you create to indicate a specific point when reading. One of the techniques used with reading comprehension is teaching students to underline key word, which is fine. However, yes, ok, it can be done on an ipad but that requires you to select the underlining function which maybe takes a millisecond to be done but with some students a millisecond is all the time they need to be distracted or lose their train of thought.
I feel like they are a great way to help students learn with certain programs. They would be great for learning centers and a lot of the students probably wouldn't even realize they're learning because they're so much fun!
Nowadays, iPads have turned into a learning tool.....
We are finding more and more schools are using this free digital resource on the iPad. Teachers and kids / students from over 90 countries are enjoying playing and practicing spelling. http://www.spellathon.net
My personal opinion is that iPads don't deliver much bang for the $/€/£. They're aimed at Apple fans who want to sit back and be entertained rather than active learners who have ideas to contribute, so I guess it depends on what your idea of education is.
In the EU, schools and universities provide laptops as a more practical bit of kit that can run a vastly superior array of software and have proper keyboards so that learners can do more than just microblogging and chat.