To be honest, my 2 and half weeks with the iPad wasn’t what I expected. I was very excited to get it, but once I got it it seemed like my laptop stripped down. Yes, it travelled better, but mostly I reach for my computer when I’m at home, so that wasn’t a big selling point for me. In fact, I was reminding myself to use my iPad only because I knew I was giving it back shortly.
This seemed like I was not taking full advantage of the iPad.
So after giving it back I looked into ways that it could affect the classroom, both good and bad. Partly to get more out of my possibly missed opportunity while I had it, and partly because their seems to be a real movement in Ed. to incorporate these devices right now, which to me seems like a frenzy of being in vogue with new technology.
The first thing I found was that the ease of travel with the iPad is indeed a major reason for this frenzy. Students can unpack their heavy backpacks and just carry a 680 gram tablet. Their whole school life can be encapsulated in this one place. The iPad becomes their textbooks, novels, notebooks, homework, and maybe soon tests. This I knew already and the trouble I was having was that all I was seeing was one thing replacing several things... and that one thing seemed a lot more expensive then the aggregate of rest (at least for one school year). What I was missing was what this allowed for, which is a constant connection to classmates, teachers and the extinction of the 3:30pm bell that ends classes for the day and therefore learning.
With the iPad students can follow their interests, enhance the community aspect of their classroom, and become teachers in their own right as they find new and interesting things to share with the class. The iPad in itself is not the revolution, but instead the means that allows the movement of connecting student to school in a 24/7 way. This makes the Internet not just something happening outside of or to the side of school, but incorporates it in a vital way with real purpose.
I remember going to computer class in high school to learn about computers and the Internet. What I don’t remember is what I learned there. Now the Internet is a major aspect of our lives and having it as a teaching and learning tool not only seems appropriate, it seems necessary. With the iPad the horizon for teaching and learning is exponentially broaden. And that seems to me to be reason enough for the iPad frenzy.