More and more iPads are being rolled out in schools across the nation to assess whether the much-loved entertainment platform really can help children learn. This article will explore the pros and cons of such advances on a child’s education.
There is no denying that iPads, when used correctly, are able to hold a young student’s attention much more effectively than the old style of lesson delivery, and the variety of interactive animations and apps can effectively supplement and enhance a teacher’s explanation of conceptually difficult material. The more attention a child gives to their lessons, the more information they will retain, resulting in more effective learning and higher achievement. Giving a child an iPad is a method of giving the child more control over their own learning.
Picking and choosing out of a list of helpful apps and customising the device at their leisure helps children to personalise their classroom experience, and relate better to the content they are taught on a platform they are familiar with. Being able to take the iPad home gives the child the opportunity to give their device a personal touch, which will translate into more meaningful experiences in the classroom. Furthermore, the child will associate playing on the iPad with learning, allowing them to recall lessons as they play.
Connecting the iPads possessed by the class allows sharing of thoughts and ideas within the group, with just a few buttons. In experiments of this type performed in primary schools, use of the iPad’s camera has been proven to reduce the volume of images copied from the internet for use in homework and assignments, with the children much more capable and motivated to use their creativity and imagination for collection of their own photographs.
These days, desktop computers seem out dated, and even laptops are looking more and more bulky by the month as new slimline tablets and hybrid ultrabooks make their way onto the market. With the highly portable iPad, children are able to take their lessons on the move with them. This means they are therefore more likely to integrate these lessons with everyday life as they wonder what makes grass-green, and look up their last biology lesson, or the date of the battle of Hastings and scroll through their digitalised workbook. The number of questions a child can ask are potentially limitless, but the iPad is perfectly capable of keeping up with the inquisitive and dynamic nature of a child’s mind.
Although there are a huge host of benefits to its use, it is no secret that technology often distracts children to the detriment of their education. While thousands of educational games exist to promote children’s learning experiences, there are tens of thousands more games designed with the sole intent of entertainment and revenue generation. These games have the habit of sneaking through school firewalls and filters, and will no doubt become a significant distraction in the classroom once children become wise to them. As soon as a teacher turns their back, a quick hand gesture allows access to a game downloaded earlier, and another flick of the fingers will hide it from view as the teacher tours the desks. If these gadgets are going to have a place in our education system, some method of regulation of unauthorised apps during class time will need to be employed.
A reduced attention span may also be a consequence of the increased use of this kind of technology. Recreational use of technology is already having an effect on this generation’s attention span, leading young people to nod off in classes and lectures, and give up reading a book after just a few pages. No doubt the tricks employed by educators to hold a child’s attention won’t be around for their whole career, making performance of tasks where intense concentration is required all the more difficult in later life.
So although the question of whether the iPad helps or hinders a child’s education is still very much a matter of debate, it can’t be denied that young students are often much more involved and interactive participators in their education when an item of technology, such as the iPad, is involved. It seems that if current trends are anything to go by, iPads will become more and more prominent components of our education system in the very near future.
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