Although iPads are a relatively new tool in schools, they are becoming increasingly popular because of their interactivity, the push for paperless textbooks and a growing array of educational apps. The iPad is just the latest of many devices that Apple has worked to get into schools. Apple is now helping schools and teachers find ways to pay for iPads and educators are also looking for new sources of funding for the devices. But despite the high level of interest, no one really knows whether iPads will actually help kids learn.
There is a lot of excitement about how the iPad may transform education, especially with new digital, interactive textbooks available through Apple’s iBooks store. But more comprehensive, long-term studies need to be done to measure the iPad’s true impact on learning.
With 1 in 88 American children on the autism spectrum, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is a greater need for new ways to education students with the disorder. Although many special education teachers are experimenting with the iPad, it’s not clear whether the device really helps.
More teachers are incorporating iPads into the classroom through grants, government funds for technology and nonprofit Web sites—and some are even bringing in their personal devices. Apple is also helping educators find new sources of funding for the company’s products.
Apple Computers co-founder Steve Jobs once told Wired Magazine that he probably “spearheaded giving away more computer equipment to schools than anybody else on the planet.” Today’s iPad “revolution” is continuing this trend. Apple’s history in schools shows that the push for the iPad continues a decades-long tradition.
Myrlene Michel, an instructional technology specialist at P.S. 205 in the Bronx, uses several apps to help students in both math and writing. She started using the iPad and iPod Touch midway through the 2011-2012 school year to help students prepare for state tests. In this video, she uses the app Khan Academy, a library of over 2,700 videos that helps with many K-12 subjects, to review math, and Adobe Reader, which allows students to write on or highlight PDF versions of previous state tests.
Teachers at the Manhattan Children’s Center, a private school for children with autism, have been using the iPad in their classrooms for two years. Educators at the Upper West Side school hope the device will help children with speech difficulties who struggle to be heard.
Fifth grade students in Monica Burns’ social studies class at the Alain L. Locke Elementary School for Environmental Leadership in Harlem learn on iPads. On May 2, the students worked on interactive textbooks created by their teacher and answered questions about Canadian history. See the photo slideshow.