Technological fads have come and gone in schools, and other experiments meant to rev up the educational experience for children raised on video games and YouTube have had mixed results. Educators, for instance, are still divided over whether initiatives to give every student a laptop have made a difference academically.
At a time when school districts are trying to get their budgets approved so they do not have to lay off teachers or cut programs, spending money on tablet computers may seem like an extravagance.
And some parents and scholars have raised concerns that schools are rushing to invest in them before their educational value has been proved by research.
“There is very little evidence that kids learn more, faster or better by using these machines,” said Larry Cuban, a professor emeritus of education at Stanford University, who believes that the money would be better spent to recruit, train and retain teachers. “IPads are marvelous tools to engage kids, but then the novelty wears off and you get into hard-core issues of teaching and learning.”
But school leaders say the iPad is not just a cool new toy but rather a powerful and versatile tool with a multitude of applications, including thousands with educational uses.
You'd have to convince me.
I can see such devices in college, where students buy and are responsible for their own books and belongings. But in public schools? Are these, along with their attendant hidden costs, problems, and distractions, really such a great deal for K-12 students? If a student can't learn by reading a book, are we doing that student any favors by catering to his/her weakness? If our students are to be well-rounded with a variety of skills, they need to know how to utilize technology and focus on a book.