Apple’s iPad enters Singapore classrooms | Reuters

Apple’s iPad enters Singapore classrooms | Reuters.b

There are a lot of nay sayers about ipads in the classroom. They say it’s a consumer device and prevents kids from producing material. Hmmmm. I’m still experimenting with the possible uses of the ipad. There are some tools such as instant access to the internet, selected video, reference materials, that are very useful. And yes, they are something kids consume. Don’t kids without ipads consume books, dictionaries, and other resources.

The ipad also is able to allow kids to manipulate items intuitively in order to learn new things. It also allows them to engage in games that actually teach them something as they play.

But the ipad is indeed a device that one can produce things on. I for one don’t like typing for long periods on a glass surface and definitely prefer a keyboard. However, it isn’t hard to link a keyboard to an ipad.

Apart from note taking, there are a myriad of free web resources like google docs that allow kids to create. There are music apps that allow kids to compose music and record it. As the device matures (remember this is only the first ipad), it will be able to record video, take pictures, and so on. As it is, there are virtual drawing pads where children can draw all kinds of things. The rock band Gorillaz recorded an entire album using the ipad alone.

To limit one’s imagination and be cynical of new technologies is naive. I agree that we have to be cautious about what we adopt and analyze its effectiveness carefully. Nonetheless, a school needs to identify those willing to take risks in trying new things and support them in doing so if their rationale makes sense.

I am glad our ‘new’ computer lab is supposed to be a space that can be adapted for different use in the future, but many are many saying that computer labs in schools are obsolete.

My favorite part about an ipad or other tablet device is that it isn’t tethered to a wall. Sure, a laptop isn’t either, but the touch screen interface and the gestures associated with it tend to be intuitive to kids. A track pad or mouse may be less so.

It’s interesting to think about what may or may not be obsolete in 20 years. Like the slide rule, rotary phone, or the polaroid camera, all these great tools at some point became obsolete. One of my colleagues sent me an article about the demise of cursive writing and how many people think we shouldn’t spend all that time teaching it. Will analog time be next?

It’s an interesting time to be a teacher, but whatever happens in 20 years, kids are still going to need to think critically, communicate effectively, collaborate, innovate and create, solve problems, and lead.

I know the core subjects at elementary school aim to do that, but if technology can enhance that experience, increase motivation, and make learning fun, why not?


One thought on “Apple’s iPad enters Singapore classrooms | Reuters

  1. I really love our iPad. My 4th grader did her state report on it (using books as reference). The compactness of it is appealing and psychologically for me, at least, makes me feel like there’s nothing between the student and her work.

    There are apps that let you make flashcards, too. But my daughter is more interested in using a flipcam for this. She makes a video that says, “Spell X.” Then she pauses, gives the correct spelling, and adds really funny commentary. She figured out how to do this on her own, and I think it’s sort of awesome. She even inserts commercials into it, which isn’t helpful, but is so darned funny that I love it all the more.

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