I completely disagree with James Kendrick’s reasoning for his stance on the iPad for Education scheme. He is of the belief that the program may unravel due to the kids’ rough treatment of the equipment.
Apple wants to make a difference in areas that matter, and education certainly qualifies. Today’s announcement of a new textbook publishing scheme, that provides rich textbook content for grade schoolers using iPads, is a good step toward bringing the education system into the digital age. There is one thing that may get in the way of the Apple goal: kids.
As part of my interest in covering mobile technology, I made friends with several administrators handling these programs at the schools, which included both middle schools and high schools. Listening to the people behind the laptops in grade schools was certainly eye-opening, and lead me to wonder how feasible Apple’s iPads in schools initiative can really be.
What these program administrators discovered was how destructive school kids can be on a regular basis. The stories they told about how thoroughly destroyed many of these laptops were over the course of a school year, in what would be considered top schools, were mind-boggling. Several years of data found that few, if any, laptops survived the entire school year without extensive physical damage through poor handling by the kids. It was so bad that after the first couple of years the budget had to be changed to reflect the inability to use a single laptop in more than one school year.
The fact that the laptops were damaged in “top schools” doesn’t surprise. Students in top schools often take for granted the value of equipment. They assume that broken items are quickly replaceable with little hassle involved. It is my belief that children from poorer families actually take better care of equipment.
And this leads to my second point. One of the major benefits of iPads in the classroom is the expense of text books will be markedly reduced. Whilst the tablets will be quite costly, so too are conventional text books. This program allows schools to offer students from poorer families access to the best online textbooks at a much cheaper rate.
Sure, there will be damage to some i-Pads. That’s to be expected. But it isn’t reason to desist from embracing this program. Children are not unnecessarily destructive. If they are made to realise the expense and significance of what the school is offering they are most likely going to ensure that they look after the equipment.
If you trust kids to do the right thing they will not let you down.