The iPad Goes Back to School

When Dr. Martin Ringle introduced the then-new iPad to Oregon's Reed College in the fall of 2010, he was more than a little cautious. After all, he had seen educational-technology trends come and go--he even had an old Apple Newton gathering dust in a drawer somewhere."

By Joel Mathis
Mon, September 17, 2012

Macworld

Apple iPad
When Dr. Martin Ringle introduced the then-new iPad to Oregon's Reed College in the fall of 2010, he was more than a little cautious. After all, he had seen educational-technology trends come and go--he even had an old Apple Newton gathering dust in a drawer somewhere."

Apple's iPad Aims to Revolutionize Education

Ringle, the chief technology officer at Reed, planned to try iPads purely as a test and not to get caught up in the hype. "We want students and faculty to have the devices in a live setting," Ringle said, "and see what they discover."

Two years later, after multiple pilot programs, Ringle has this to report: He is an iPad believer.

"I think it's clear that the iPad is here to stay," he said recently. "Students and faculty--and for that matter, administrative staff--are continually finding new ways that the iPad meets their needs better today than it did yesterday."

Ringle is far from alone: As schools start their 2012-2013 school year, the iPad will be an important tool in many classrooms. San Diego's public school district, for example, has purchased 26,000 Apple tablets for use in classrooms. Schools in Mansfield, Texas, have bought thousands more. Studies have shown that students and teachers are enthusiastic about the device, and that it may even make a difference in educational outcomes. The result? In the first two quarters of this year, Apple says, it has sold twice as many iPads as Macs to K-12 customers.

Talk to a dozen different educators, and you'll get a dozen different reasons why the iPad seems to work well in the classroom. Here's what they're saying.

Engaging and simple to use

At ACDS, a New York school for young children with autism and Down syndrome, principal Cecilia Barry says the iPad has produced unmatched results in helping children with cognitive disabilities learn to communicate and express themselves. One 5-year-old improved so much, she says, that the child's family bought an iPad for every speech pathologist and classroom at the school.

The secret? The iPad doesn't require the students to use language. Instead, communication is tactile: They can touch and swipe images on the iPad to make themselves understood. The tablet's camera allows students to capture images of specific objects they want to communicate about. Compared with older methods--the children once used flash cards to accomplish the same things--the iPad is easier, more adaptable, and often more enjoyable to use.

"One of the main issues we have with kids with autism is frustration about communication," says Michael Smith, the school's executive director. "This is a way to communicate that really breaks through that frustration. It may be surprising if you don't work with these kids all the time, but it even improves the behavior of kids that's related to their frustration at being unable to communicate."

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