Pros and Cons of Using iPads in the Classroom

Jan 07, 2018

Kristi Meeuwse has been teaching for over 22 years when she encountered a 'game changer'. Drayton Hall Elementary School in Charleston had seen better days. The education that her Kindergarten students were receiving reeked of drab disinterest.

Kristi felt it too. But her distaste was obliterated by an endeavor implemented solely to help the school pull up its socks. A mighty save, you can call it. It was the school district that came a-calling one day and handed a box of 30 twinkling iPads to Kristi. What followed suit was as rush in making those devices as productive as possible.

The iBooks Author app shone the way to success. Kristi started compiling books on the iPad. Her muse? Spiders, baby animals and dirt bikes. The magic was spun when the students could watch the spider move as they read the tale. Also, the numbers formed a perfect chorus as they hummed those together. Sounds fun, right?

And Kristi was pleased. “For the first time in 22 years of teaching, 100 percent of my kindergarten students went to first grade reading above grade level”, she recounts with a big smile.

Watch her story as she tells the tale herself.

The Popularity of iPads in Education

Since its release in 2010, iPads have taken up the education sector by storm. As Apple pushed through the enormity of conventions and misconceptions, the iPads bloomed to glory.

  • iPads aid in the study of many concepts that are quite difficult to grasp. Think timelines.
  • iPads take the disinterest out of the learning experience.
  • With iPads, showing students a big event seem like a piece of pie. For example, how can you show a volcano erupting on the blackboard?

The 1:1 initiative found solid ground with the implementation of iPads in the classroom. Every student was given an iPad to help improve the learning process. The deployment has been successful with varying rates validating the triumph in different schools.

Within 3 years of its release, Apple's share of tablets in education soared to an overwhelming 94%!

It isn't surprising that such a hefty share will usher in controversies. So, there has been a variety of negative impacts that have percolated into the initiative of implementing iPads in the classroom. In this article, we will discuss about both sides of the proliferation: the positive and the negative.

Pros of Integrating iPads into Education

The iPad is a powerful and versatile device that has the potential of changing the face of education. The benefits are many.

  1. iPads Offer Diverse Methods of Imparting Education

Let's take another look at Kristi Meeuwse's classroom. Before the iPad streamed into the education sector, learning was restricted to the four walls of the classroom and educational text meant the ones that the school policy allowed. But there has been incidences when we stumbled across a valuable text somewhere on the Internet, but couldn't learn it in the class with the strict administrative regulations breathing down our necks and the cost. But Kristi found a way around it anyway.

Her classes were filled with the eagerness of students wanting to learn, write, read, and interact together. How often do you see that? I'm guessing, not quite.

iPads have made education:

  • enjoyable
  • interactive
  • engaging
  • tailor-made

Can you suggest anything, which can beat that?

  1. iPads have Uncorked Unending Resources for Education

How often have you come across the phrase “There's an app for that”?

That's what defines iPads at its very best. Anything you want, be it History resources, additional dissertation information, homework assistance, assignment ideas, learning models, creative writing ideas, Calculus help and so on, all of these can be located by a tap on the screen. Yes, you read that right. IPads bring a plethora of educational resources to the very palms of students.

With iPads doing the rounds:

  • students would not have to worry about carrying bunches of back-breaking textbooks to the schools anymore
  • the apps galore has become a welcome addition to the repository of resources for students and teachers alike
  1. They are Easy to Use as well as Portable

Carrying an iPad to school isn't a big deal. They are:

  • lightweight
  • portable

This is what makes the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) concept more achievable. It fits in the backpack easily and is equivalent to carrying around your own library. What more, the iPads can be paired easily with an external keyboard to speed up typing.

One of the most important aspects that distinguishes Apple from the rest of the companies out there is the easy-to-use interface. Anybody can operate an iPad, it is that easy. Therefore, time lost due to configuration and figuring out complex stuff on the device has been brought down to zero.

  1. Leverages the Technology Addiction of Gen Y

Did you know that the percentage of mobile web traffic from tablets that generate from iPads is 80%? And who do you think leads the team with the fastest finger forward? The students, of course.

Every day, we see kids stuck to their mobile devices like glue. It is like if you go within half a mile's radius of them, you can actually smell the fixation they have for those devices. If this fascination could be put into education, can you imagine the benefits it will reap?

And that’s exactly what the teachers advocating the use of iPads in education are up to.

With surly hours of blank stares and muffled yawns in the classroom, it is time for education to go the smart way. iPads are doing exactly this: converting procrastination time into productive hours of education by deploying the many facades of technology.

  1. Safety is Utmost with iPads

iPads cannot be hacked as easily as the computers that are provided by schools.

  • iPads cannot be reprogrammed without jail-breaking.
  • You cannot even open them for a simple task as changing the battery.

This renders them quite safe to use and locks in a whole world of education into the simple un-hackable device.

Recommended Read: What makes the iPad a must-have for classes?

Cons of Augmentation of iPads in Education

There is no doubt about the raging popularity that iPads in education has gathered over the years. Two facts to validate this:

  • Within the first 80 days of its release, Apple was reported to have sold 3 million of those remarkable devices.
  • Apple sold an average of 1.3 million iPads every week over the fiscal year 2014.

But then Google's Chromebooks resurfaced to give a tight competition to these staggering figures. When Apple Inc.'s CEO, Tim Cook was asked about this, he replied, “We do see Chromebooks in some places, but the vast majority of people are buying a PC/Mac or an iPad.”

However, where stakes fly high, cons tag along in plenty. Here’s a quick look at some of them.

  1. iPads Can Be Distracting at Times

With technology comes its Achilles' heel of straying from the real world and shifting a lot towards the virtual. Therefore, it is quite common that a session of learning can quickly turn into a chat break for many. The worst part is, teachers won't even be able to identify what is going on. So, this becomes a huge setback to the amazing innovation that iPad for education is.

  1. Not as Economical as Books

You must be thinking, “How come iPads seem expensive when the schools purchasing the devices get a bulky discount on lot?” You have a point. But the problem persists. Even with heavy discounts, the cost of iPads reach $600 per student.

And that is not where the plight ends. iPads require a data plan, which can cost a lot of money. And not all schools are comfortable with it. The components aren't that easy to replace or repair either.

So, if you are looking for some educational tool that’s quite low-cost, iPad might not be your thing at all.

  1. Wi-Fi Issues Could Be a Big Hindrance to Learning

iPads depend completely on the Wi-Fi connectivity of the school. With the increasing number of digital devices filling the school building and each fighting for Wi-Fi space, it becomes a big deal when there is a prevailing network failure or connectivity issues.

  1. Increases the Work Quantity Without Anyone Realizing

If you look closely, iPads can be quite the digital headache sometimes. For example, the shifting of the researching, assessing and grading to the digital world isn't as satisfying as spending hours in the library. There seems to be a simplicity about the library that contains students with their noses buried in years of enriched resources or handing over the completed answer papers to the invigilator. And despite its efficacy, the iPad, however, fails to offer this amazing feeling to the students.

Even with the advantages piling up into a heap, iPads have their own spectacular applications to look out for. Therefore, it is important to identify the student requirements and then chalking up a strategy that involves a solution with the iPads before implementing them into the curriculum.

Do you think the pros outweigh the cons of implementing iPads in the classroom? Or, is it the other way round? Share your views with us in the comments section.

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