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In what situations do iPads belong?

kwyly's picture

Since our introduction to the iPad on Thursday, I have been thinking about how using one would alter situations where they had previously not been used. As an expansion of the reading that listed pros and cons of iPads , I have been trying to critically think about what impact it could have on my experiences and the experiences of others. The first instance that I had been thinking about was how a iPad could fit into the kindergarten classroom where I teach. Every morning I teach a small group lesson that focuses on reading comprehension, writing letters, and making connections through a poem/nursery rhyme. The nursery rhyme is on a board and we often use white boards to practice writing words or letters as well as coloring pictures that connect to the rhyme. I can see how iPads could have a place in this type of situation; instead of erasing a whiteboard after each word or struggling to make sure every student can see the text of the poem, each child could have their own iPad. This way, they could practice writing words, coloring, or playing games on their own comfort level and a lot of time could be saved. Despite this, the introduction of iPads into this situation seems stressful. Relying on the iPad eliminates much of the work and experiences of learning. The idea of learning to write by using a stylus on the iPad or even using the touch screen to form words is not the same type of experience that our and other generations learned to write through. I am curious about if this is a bad thing; just because it is different from the way things have always been done does it mean it is negative to learn this way? Being dependent on an iPad as a key educational tool presents a new sense of ease to a learning experience. I am starting to think about it as a shortcut, but but it is also a shortcut that provides new methods of getting information and saving time. I was also thinking about what I would be doing if I had an iPad. I am pretty sure I would be spending a lot of time on it playing with new apps and procrastinating other things that I have to do. I can't decide if this is a good or bad thing; there are definitely ways that using something as portable and easy to use as an iPad can help us learn and make connections between different topics in ways that we couldn't do without internet. I think before I can truly figure out what impact the iPad could have on my life or the lives of others it is necessary to be part of situations where I am actively using it.


alesnick's picture

holding uncertainty, rather than drawing a line?

Thank you for the insight that a lot of uncertainty surrounds the use and import of tech in ed.  I think this uncertainty prompts us to move, quickly at times, to evaluation: is the tech helpful or harmful?  The trouble us, moving from the good/bad dichotomy may introduce as many problems as it solves, because the answer varies so greatly with context.  What else can we do with the uncertainty other than evaluation?

Jenny Chen's picture

Helping or Harming the Future of Education

While I believe technology is a great contributing factor in the education system I also believe it has some harmful side effects. In some ways I am playing devils advocate right now because I am typically an avid advocator to new technologies in education. Here are some things I have personally experienced that can be considered "harmful?" to my education. Up until highschool, I hand wrote all of my papers. Handwriting papers is beneficial for a number of reasons. One reason is that one can only write so fast, and thus what is written has usually gotten a certain amount of thought. This is especially true because I would make outlines and thus what is written is following a well thought out plan. Now with Microsoft Word, I am able to write much faster and get all of my ideas down on paper. I find that then when I go back to revise I am hesitant to remove things from my paper because there is just so much relevant content and weeding through becomes difficult. I sometimes find that if I sit down with pen and paper and create the traditional plan I used to use, I am able to develop more concrete ideas for my paper. I sometimes worry about the children growing up in a world of technology because I feel that sometimes these kids skip this traditional pen and paper path. This also relates to reading on technology. I have only recently (basically this semester) become relatively comfortable reading on computers and iPads. I used to need to print things out on paper not only to be able to take notes, but also because it was much more comfortable to read on paper than on a screen. Children today start reading from computers and other technologies at a young age and I find that many of them are so much more comfortable reading on a computer than in a physical book. All of this is based on what the child interacts with first, and most often. For example, I have always read newspapers online, and thus i'm more comfortable reading NY Times articles online than on the huge pieces of paper, but this does not hold true with eBooks or other articles. I have noticed technology helping and harming even outside the literature world. I learnd most of Calculus graphing by hand, and felt incredibly uncomfortable when I started using a calculator. It is true that the calculator makes things much much easier (after you learn the technology) but before you do, the technology seems excessive. Is making the math "easier" helping or harming the education? Children are using calculators younger and younger now and I am tempted to think, "why? I clearly learned math without one, why is it now so imperative that this technology is taught?" This is not to say that it should NOT be taught, but is the technology in some ways taking over?

Generally speaking, I think that technology is an aid to education. It is useful in an infinite number of ways but must be used correctly and intuitively. Technology should not be in place of other traditional forms of education. Here is another mini anecdote from my life. Before graduating from middle school each student was given a 12 inch x 12 inch block of wood and throughout our 8th grade year we all had to take a woodworks class and carve a plaque that would then be displayed on the walls in the school. My middle school opened in the early 1900's and you can see that the plaques from back then were so much more intricately carved than the ones from my year. This is not to say that ours were not nicely done, it is just a whole differnt kind of handy work. Is this because of technology that we have lost some of our creativity and use of our hands? How is the education of a child at age 2 having an iPad going to  be different than a person that did not use a computer until their mid 20's. I am beginning to notice just how much uncertainty there is in this field. It is clearly shown that there are both pros and cons to technology in education but where is the line drawn?

pyiu's picture

Technology to Improve Literacy

At the core of this post I think it addrresses the point of how technology can help improve education. Thus, this post reminded me a lot about the article Professor Lesnick posted on Twitter concerning an NGO distributing e-readers to students in an effort to improve literacy ( With techonology, I think there'll always be a struggle with whether it's truly helping education or hurting education. I used to think a lot about the disadvantages of technology, especially how virtual interactions are beginning to replace human interactions. However as I think about how technology has been used to disseminate information I cannot deny that I love being able to search for anything and have so much information at the tip of my fingers. And now after reading that article, I wonder about how e-books really could be a solution used to end the problems associated with the high production costs of paper-back books. Thus this could allow students greater access to literature that they never had before. 

Moreover, as I consider the article we read this past week about how ubiquitious cell phones are, and the variety of uses they have in developing countries, I think about the possibilities of the e-readers and tablets. In fact, the article compares e-readers to cell phones, and talks about how e-readers are well designed for the developiong world. "E-readers, he says, are more akin to cellphones than laptops — and are well designed for the developing world because they don’t consume much power and they use the universal GSM network. 'Computers play a great role, but e-readers really solve the reading problem much more direct and simple way,' says Risher." Thus if these developing countries were to start developing e-readers and tablets in the same way they started doing with cell phones it is very possible that books and computers could easily become a thing of the past.  

On a side note, a concern that comes up as I read about Worldreader (the NGO from the article) is, what kind of literature are they putting on these Kindles? The NGO gives out "Kindle[s] preloaded with some public-domain books, as well as contemporary international and local books(which the organization is helping to get published in digital form for the first time)." Wary of all the western literature that these Kindles would be pre-loaded with, novels that Ghanaian kids might not be able to relate to, I was surprised to hear that the Worldreader was also working to digitize books from Ghanaian authors. That's the element of this program that really got me excited. I wonder about how Ghanaian children feel about reading books written by western authors as opposed to Ghanaian authors. Maybe I'll get the chance to ask them when in Ghana....  

Thus, I'm really beginning to open up my mind to seeing all the way that technology can be used to help further education and literacy in developing countries, and not simply be a roadblock which lengthens the gap between the have's and the have-not's.