Saturday, October 05, 2013

What? iPads Don't Solve All of School's Problems?

Some people are too enamored with iPads and other tablets, acting like their use in schools will bring about something akin to the Second Coming.  It didn't turn out that way in Los Angeles and it's not turning out that way near Houston, either:
Widespread problems found by a consultant have prompted Fort Bend school district officials to shelve a $16 million initiative to integrate thousands of iPads into the classroom experience at 14 schools.

A review commissioned by the Fort Bend Independent School District found that the program, known as iAchieve, was rolled out last year with unrealistic goals. The review also concluded use of the devices was limited, managers had inadequate skills and the vendor hired to develop the learning platform was a startup with no relevant experience.

Officials hoped to improve lagging science scores by delivering an interactive curriculum for second through eighth grades using 6,300 iPads. Pilot efforts were conducted in fourth and eighth grades at three schools in spring 2012, and the initiative was expanded to 14 schools.

The superintendent, Timothy Jenney, and the chief information officer who led the implementation have left the district.

Current Superintendent Charles Dupre initiated the review by Gibson Consulting Group soon after he was hired in April.

“There was no clarity of why and how (the program) came to be and (was) executed, and that caused me some concern,” Dupre said...

In addition, the review found the iPads were not fully used in the classrooms. On average, only two schools reported that as many as half of their students used the devices daily.

Teachers surveyed about the program following a second round of pilots in fall 2012 said the quality of the content was poor, the platform didn’t function properly and the lessons were inconsistent with district lesson plans, the report said.
Can't say I'm surprised. Repeat after me:  Technology is a tool, not a goal.

Hat tip to reader MikeAT.


Auntie Ann said...

What about Smart Boards? Is there any sign that they actually improve anything in the classroom?

Like most tech, it's not about the pretty shiny things, it's about what you need to use it for. Need should precede acquisition, but too many people have it backwards: acquire first, figure out what the heck to do with it later.

3rseduc / handsinthesoil said...

I had blogged about this... why spend millions on ipads or other technology which merely replaces pen, paper, books - not offering anything better or different?

Ellen K said...

OMG. That's our district's role model to a T. This year one third of the students in our entire district were issued IPADS. That means first, fourth, seventh, ninth, tenth graders and one third of the teachers-electives at the building principal's discretion. As a result, one third of our teachers have PowerMac's that don't work using current website software. Due to the public statement that our IPAD's would have open access to programs to facilitate broad self determined learning, we have six year olds with open internet access and 14 year olds playing Madden while teachers try to teach. On top of that teachers are told "you are the boss and control the access" which is a lie. How can one teach possibly monitor thirty plus students armed with both cell phones and IPADs for engagement. Of course when we are observed, it will be on our record if one kid is listening to music or watching a movie during class. I have no problem with technology per se. I have a big problem with using it as an excuse to avoid updating books and software which is in the end the reason.