By Nicole Lauer|
Professors at Augustana College and St. Ambrose University said they're training future teachers to work with iPads, while determining the tech device's best fit in the classroom.
Mike Egan, Augustana assistant professor of education, said elementary education majors are required to buy an iPad and receive a $200 stipend to offset the expense. He said education majors work closely with Rock Island's Longfellow Elementary where students have access to iPads.
Mr. Egan said he also requires his students to review iPad apps, and report back to the class on their usefulness. If they find a bad app, they report it to the developer and to iTunes, where the apps can be purchased.
"You have to comb through to determine the educational value and quality," he said. "Some people are out there just to sell product. On the good side, often the risk is only $2.99 or so. Maybe you hit gold, maybe not."
Apps are inexpensive, so as the technology evolves, a school could buy an app to meet the different learning needs of each student, Mr. Egan said. "A school could actually purchase 60 different apps to meet those different needs. We're not there yet."
Some districts may feel at a disadvantage because they can't afford iPads for students, but Mr. Egan said there might be an advantage to waiting until the quality and effective uses of apps is more thoroughly teased out.
Dick Robertson, an assistant professor of teacher education at St. Ambrose, agreed there are advantages to not rushing out to buy the latest technology.
Buying electronic tablets requires preparation, and teachers need to be involved in the planning, everyone needs to be trained and technology infrastructure needs to be up-to- date, he said.
"I know of a district that will remain nameless that went out and purchased 100 little Androids, only to find out their wireless system wouldn't allow them to use them," Mr. Robertson said. "That's not doing their homework."
He said St. Ambrose has several iPads for its education students and he encourages them to consider whether they will be an advantage in the classroom. If they determine it's a better way of teaching a lesson than using a chalkboard, they should use it.
Mr. Robertson said he's not against iPads in the classroom, but he's not certain every desk needs one to make learning happen.
"Do you have to have one-to-one iPad access in order to provide quality education? I'm not so sure you do."
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