As many schools continue to implement 1-to-1 iPad programs under much fanfare, it makes sense for Brewster to reevaluate its 1-to-1 laptop program. As we all know, technology is not important in and of itself, rather it is how we use the technology that is important. In my opinion, Brewster’s 1-to-1 laptop program is stronger then most 1-to-1 iPad programs at this moment in time because of how we integrate the technology into the curriculum. BA teachers have been effectively leveraging the laptop to improve student learning since 1993.
To be clear, some schools have proven that the iPad can be a very valuable tool in the hands of students and teachers when intentionally integrated across the curriculum. The question we need to ask and answer is, what value does the use of an iPad offer over a laptop? Can a student and teacher do everything they need to do with an iPad as they can do you with a laptop? Can the iPad stand alone as a primary computing device or is it best to be used as a secondary companion device?
Two iPad pilots have been conducted here at Brewster in the past few years. A teacher pilot was conducted in the fall of the 2012, where 18 teachers experimented with iPad use to develop and deliver curriculum. The pilot was a valuable experiment but in the end, it was decided that “there is not yet a compelling enough case to say that the iPad is such a game changer in supporting the development of creativity or imagination that we should adopt its use school-wide.”
A second student pilot was conducted in the spring of 2014, where 6 students were challenged to use the iPad ONLY in class and for the completion of their homework. After the six week pilot was complete, students were brought together in a focus group to discuss their thoughts.
Positive comments included:
• “Note-taking is easy and organized with an app like GoodNotes, where you have the ability to annotate PDFs – highlight, underline, and write in the margins.”
• “Normally I would find it easier to use my iPad when I need to review something quick such as email, Moodle, grades, BMP’s and taking notes.”
• “iPads are capable of doing almost everything a laptop can do. One can make Keynotes, build mind-maps, organize notes easily, and easily and quickly access relevant information.”
Negative comments included:
• “Typing is a bit of a hardship.”
• “I can’t open PDF documents in Moodle.”
• “Composing papers/essays on iPad, particularly research papers, is simply impossible. The multitasking is too slow, and it doesn’t allow you to glance at multiple real-time apps at once. This functionality is crucial when referencing bibliographies and information relevant to whatever project one is working on. Text manipulation on iPad is a nightmare, and even when one gets the hang of it, it isn’t pleasant to be working solely with it during revision.”
Keeping our Finger on the Pulse
Although we aren’t currently conducting any formal iPad pilots, many Brewster community members are using iPads in their professional and personal lives and providing feedback to the Tech office. We watch with interest as Apple and other vendors announce new products with enhanced functionality and we continue to experiment with these tools. Below is a list of the advantages that both the iPad and the Laptop have to offer.
The advantages of an iPad over a laptop
• More portable
• Built-in camera for both video and still photography
• Better reading device
• Large variety of targeted educational apps (priced inexpensively)
• Less expensive
• Write on the screen with a stylus (still needs improvement)
• Longer battery life
The advantages of a laptop over an iPad
• Multitasking – you can have many windows open at the same time
• Built-in keyboard
• Google docs perform better
• Moodle performs better
• Larger display screen
• Built-in file manager (Finder)
Based on research and hands-on experience with using the iPad, it is safe to say that the iPad is not quite mature enough to replace the laptop in Brewster’s curriculum…yet. More to come, stay tuned.
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