iPads to be required in Tenn. school

By Anne Collier

It’s a new twist on a 1:1 laptop program. The 1,050-student, private Web School in Knoxville, Tenn., will require all students from Grade 4 on up to bring an iPad to school next year, The Journal reports. “Administrators and teachers have been mulling over a 1:1 computer program for the last 17 years,” the school’s tech director told The Journal, but the timing has never been right, with obstacles like cost to teachers not being ready.” Besides the iPad’s affordability, what fueled readiness this time was “positive reviews” from schools around the US already using iPads (please see the article for how The Webb School worked out the budget). Some of those reviews from other schools and districts can be found in the New York Times’s recent article, “Math That Moves: School Embrace the iPad,” which cites the view of “school leaders” as saying that “the iPad is not just a cool new toy but rather a powerful and versatile tool with a multitude of applications, including thousands with educational uses” (more than 5,400 apps, reportedly, 1,000 of them free). However, the Times also reports that “technology advocates like Elliot Soloway, an engineering professor at the University of Michigan, and Cathie Norris, a technology professor at the University of North Texas, question whether school officials have become so enamored with iPads that they have overlooked less costly options, like smartphones.” The Times talked to personnel at iPad-acquiring schools and districts in Illinois, New York, Arizona, North Carolina, and New Jersey. [Here’s The Webb School’s FAQ on its iPad program.]

Valuable related links

* Educator and author David Warlick lists the positives and negatives of iPads in the classroom
* From Fear to Facebook: One School’s [1:1 laptop] Journey, by middle school administrator Matt Levinson
* A group of teachers collaborated on “Digital Storytelling with the iPad,” a Web site that guides educators on how to teach a form of storytelling that they say “can transform students’ writing into a visual masterpiece that is filled with voice and emotion, while enhancing critical thinking skills” (see the video they produced on how the iPad engages students and teachers).
* For me, some reasons why social technologies make sense in school – video of educator Richard Culatta (thanks to educator Scott Merrick for pointing this out on Facebook)
* The MacArthur Foundation’s Spotlight on Digital Media & Learning looks at iPads, smartphones, the future of the book, and the Internet as “the main news source for people under age 30” now
* A dad’s iPad dilemma: tech writer and parent David Pogue at the New York Times on 6-year-old son’s “iPad addiction”: “He spends hours, for example, playing with Puppet Pals, an amazing free app that lets you create animated cartoons. You choose a backdrop – say, the Wild West, or a pirate ship. Then you drag cutout characters around with your fingers…. You provide the dialogue yourself. The app records everything you do, both audio and character motions. Later, you can play back the whole thing for your proud papa. Yes, my 6-year-old is creating his own animated shorts.”

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