Kindergarten kids: A pencil, eraser and an iPad

Kindergarten kids: A pencil, eraser and an iPad

Summary: Young learners are using iPads in the classrooms of Burris Laboratory School. Will mobile device use become the future for classroom education?

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TOPICS: iPad, Mobility
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K-12 learners studying at the Burris Laboratory School have been using iPads as a learning tool this year.

Thanks to a grant of $200,000 by the Indiana Department of Education, the school's kindergarten through to fifth grade students and their teachers have been equipped with their own iPads.

The Apple products have been used to promote interactivity in conjunction with technology use in the classroom. From using their tablets to take pictures in scavenger hunts to producing public safety announcements, students are able to upload their projects to a classroom blog.

The blog can be accessed publicly, and parents are able to receive email notifications when new items are posted.

(Source: Flickr)

Stefanie Onieal, first-grade teacher at Burris, considers it a wonderful experience. However, the teachers make sure iPad use does not dominate classroom learning.

At most, the Apple devices are used for 40 minutes per day. School curriculum content takes priority, and according to Onieal: "We are just trying to come up with new ways that enhance that curriculum with technology."

The teachers at the Burris Laboratory School also make use of Twitter; posting photos and status updates on a regular basis.

The idea of a school equipping students with mobile devices in comparison to 'bring your own device' policies being considered by schools currently appeals to me far more as an ex-teacher. I am an advocate of using technology in classrooms; to me, it seems that by not doing so is a wasted resource.

However, by relying on students equipping themselves, you run the risk of causing divides between the 'haves' and 'have nots'. Bullying is always going to be an issue, and exposing children that can't afford the latest gadget is not acceptable. It can be bad enough if you don't have the latest 'must have' trainers or coat.

I'm also interested to know whether schools will claim responsibility for devices that they insist students bring, and foot the bill if one is stolen.

Instead, by implementing technology use in this manner, children not only learn about how to use these devices in a more engaging learning experience, but are kept on a uniform level.

It's not only the students that are able to benefit. The introduction of devices like iPads can also be a way to teach the staff themselves how to implement and use them as a valuable teaching tool. As a means of teacher development, learning at the same time as your students is an engaging experience, and can be far more valuable than workshops.

In four years, the only technological training I had for classroom teaching across Europe and in the U.K was how to use the VCR. It's about time that changed.

Onieal believes that this will be the future for classroom study. After viewing the classroom blog, I can see the potential within it to include parents more in their children's education, and allow students to feel more confident in displaying their work.

As well as allowing parents to view their children's work online, it could also be a way to nurture students' interest in technology at an early age. Some of the students at the school have already contributed to new methods of using the mobile devices; for example, expressing a wish to begin an online newspaper. This is due to start in January.

As long as schools ensure that the use of devices like iPads are controlled properly, I think that it can be a valuable method to help prepare children for careers in an economy that is heavily reliant on technology use, as well as improve learning in classrooms.

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Topics: iPad, Mobility

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12 comments
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  • Color me "skeptical".

    I'm a big fan of all things Apple, and love my iPad. But I do have some doubts about the value of technology in education, especially in the lower elementary grades. Unless the tech-based material is VERY tightly integrated with the non-tech, it can be more of a distraction or merely "entertainment" instead of an effective learning tool. I'm sure the motivation for using any tech tool in education is to make kids love learning, but sometimes I feel that it just makes them love gadgets.
    Userama
    • I agree with you

      @Userama
      I believe that a TRADITIONAL learning curriculum during elementary and Jr High are more appropriate, with the addition of gadgets once the student gets to high school.
      wackoae
    • Agree.......

      @Userama

      Using technology in the early grades can actually be counter productive. What use is a calculator if the student can't do basic math? What good is a tablet if the student has problems reading and writing?

      Technology is a great educational tool if used properly. But until the later grades, when student have mastered reading, writing, and math, these tools should be restricted.
      linux for me
    • RE: Kindergarten kids: A pencil, eraser and an iPad

      @Userama My 4th grader is currently wasting her time learning cursive writing when she should be learning how to type....
      We need to stop worrying about technology and embrace it. The USA is currently ranked 18th in Education; we need to recognize what we do now is not working.

      quote:
      ""The United States is no longer the world leader in secondary education, according to the rankings of an international organization.

      The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development places the United States 18th among the 36 nations examined, USA Today reported Wednesday.

      Headed to the top of the heap is South Korea where 93 percent of high school students graduate on time compared with the United States where 75 percent receive their diplomas.

      The seemingly downward trend of U.S. education worries economists.

      "The United States has rested on its laurels way too long," Jacob Funk Kirkegaard of the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, told USA Today. "Other countries have increasingly caught up and surpassed the United States."

      "We've been asleep for a good number of years as a country," says Richard Freeman, an economics professor at Harvard. "It's not that we're doing horrible. But the other guys are moving faster." "
      Bodazapha
      • Just curious...

        @Bodazapha
        Does the OECD report find a correlation between the use of tech and the educational outcome? I find it kinda hard to believe that 17 other countries use more tech tools than the U.S.
        Userama
    • RE: Kindergarten kids: A pencil, eraser and an iPad

      @Userama I can tell you this. Gadgets one day become tools for tomorrow.

      Once, a car was considered a luxury device used by only the rich.

      how's the horse an buggy doing ya?
      Bodazapha
  • The tablets better be sturdy

    Kindergarteners are likely to find all sorts of creative ways to use the hardware.
    John L. Ries
  • RE: Kindergarten kids: A pencil, eraser and an iPad

    Actually younger children are more likely to use technology to perform tasks than be distracted by it.
    CowLauncher
    • RE: Kindergarten kids: A pencil, eraser and an iPad

      @CowLauncher
      Bang on!
      You are so right.
      sanjmeh
  • How about...

    ...building blocks, coloring books, and crayons? Five year olds understand low tech toys very well and they have a proven track record of encouraging creativity.
    John L. Ries
    • RE: Kindergarten kids: A pencil, eraser and an iPad

      @John L. Ries

      My sister's children, currently 16 and 11 years of age, grew up using their own computers at home. They learned early and became productive with the tools of the information age. Both have active social network based activities and both use their knowledge of computer skills to further their academic achievements. It should be noted that both started using computers from age three on.

      Personally, I'm glad they were spared the higher educational practices of using wooden building blocks, coloring books and crayons during their primary school years and grew up using "advanced tech" both at home as well as at school.

      One final observation. I've been an iPad user from day one. I brought my one month old iPad to my sister's nine year old's last school day of the year. The school holds a neat outdoor games and picnic outing for both parents (and uncles), teachers and students. I let my niece use my iPad and I was somewhat amazed that she (and her friends) took to it like ducklings take to water. They checked their gmail accounts - my gosh, they were only nine years old - and played some installed games on it. They all demonstrated a sense of responsibility in handling the device - much to an uncle's enormous relief. The point is that these young souls have grown up in a different age than you and I did.

      I say, let them use the tools of their generation rather than be saddled by the old tools of our generation.
      kenosha77a
  • RE: Kindergarten kids: A pencil, eraser and an iPad

    Well....where do I begin? I, as a child, used an Atari 2600 as my iPad. Children born in the past ten years are fortunate, in my opinion. They are destined to become extremely advanced given today's technology. )I only hope their social skills don't fly out the window!)
    DigiPie