I managed to get through high school and university back in the 1960’s when dinosaurs roamed the earth. I didn’t do very well as a student, but it’s amazing how much sticks in your brain as the years go by.
Back then, I was easily distracted. Instead of reading Shakespeare or doing algebra when it was homework time, I was more likely sneaking a peak at a movie or football magazine. If there had been an I-Pad in the house, chances are I might never have graduated.
One of the larger school districts in Winnipeg is making iPads mandatory for all middle school students, when classes resume in September. The powers that be in St. James Assiniboia have decided that textbooks are obsolete, and digital electronics are the way of the future.
Every student will be given the fancy tablet, at taxpayers’ expense, at the start of the fall term, and they can take them home at night. The school district may be right, but they may also be a little too far ahead of the curve on this one.
The basic question that needs to be answered is “Will it improve learning for students, and can we measure the outcomes?” Experience in other places where schools have gone for gadgets in a big way is not hugely encouraging. Most recent studies seem to conclude that adding digital technology such as a tablet or a laptop to a student’s basic equipment produces only a slight improvement in test scores.
Even leaving that aside, another potential issue is what device do educators choose, and how often will they have to be upgraded or replaced? The people who sell Apples and Androids must be licking their lips and rubbing their hands about now.
Looking for positives always, if a student is all digital and paperless, he or she would have a pretty hard time claiming that the dog ate their homework.
I’m Roger Currie