forbes ipad
From Forbes and Do iPads Belong In Schools?

 

How much money has your school district spent on providing every student with an iPad?   Kirkwood School District in Missouri will have spent $1.775 Million for an iPad for each student (approximately 5,500 student population):

 

iPad cost

 

Here is a FAQ link (undated) explaining what will happen if the parents refuse to pay the $28 insurance fee, if the iPad is lost/stolen, and is left at home.  For those readers familiar with the ‘nudge’ technique, students and parents have little choice but to use the iPad for their education.  The reasons given for iPad use:

Q:  Why iPads?

A:  iPads represent our purposeful transtion to and recognition of the personalize learning environment which defines the current educational focus. The iPad responds to an environment characterized by:

• active and interactive learning

• personalized, student-centered experiences

• enhanced teacher management of classroom time and space

• flexibility and responsiveness to student needs

Students will develop

• multi-faceted communication skills

• media literacy

• an electronic body of collected work reflecting ongoing growth in skills and creativity

 

Q: How was this decision made?

A:  During a three-year exploration, iPads were considered as one option in moving our district forward to provide high quality experiences for our students to utilize technology for learning.  Approximately 40 teachers, representing all schools, were included in the process through their involvement in the Technology Leadership Group.  Last spring, at a district-wide technology visioning meeting, teachers, administrators, district technology experts, and board of education members were invited to learn about data collected by the TLG, and give input into the future of instructional technology.  Personal, portable devices were strongly endorsed as a result of that process.

 

If your district has instituted an iPad plan and it has been in place for several years, the district should be providing the taxpayers with the data showing how the students have developed multi-faceted communication skills, media literacy and detail the ongoing growth in skills and creativity.  If claims are made that such an expense and technology will improve educational outcomes, then the taxpayers paying for this decision should be afforded the information that these premises were true.  If the outcomes have not improved, then should the district modify its statements and reconsider its policy on providing iPads for all students and determine if this technology can actually improve achievement.  As Kirkwood considers itself a ‘data driven’ district and receiving rewards for its data results in such programs as Missouri Schoolwide Positive Behavior Support (MO SW-PBS), this should not prove to be too difficult a task.  Every program should have verified results and the technology program should certainly have research/data on its effectiveness.

The concern about iPad use is not only in Missouri, but in school districts throughout the country. Parents are not only worried about the increased use of technology and its cost and effectiveness, but many are troubled by the amount of computer/iPad use both in school and out of school for homework.  From The Atlantic and Why Some Schools Are Selling All Their iPads:

For an entire school year Hillsborough, New Jersey, educators undertook an experiment, asking: Is the iPad really the best device for interactive learning?

It’s a question that has been on many minds since 2010, when Apple released the iPad and schools began experimenting with it. The devices came along at a time when many school reformers were advocating to replace textbooks with online curricula and add creative apps to lessons. Some teachers welcomed the shift, which allowed their students to replace old poster-board presentations with narrated screencasts and review teacher-produced video lessons at any time.

Four years later, however, it’s still unclear whether the iPad is the device best suited to the classroom. The market for educational technology is huge and competitive: During 2014, American K-12 schools will spend an estimated $9.94 billion on educational technology, an increase of 2.5 percent over last year, according to Joseph Morris, director of market intelligence at the Center for Digital Education. On average, he said, schools spend about a third of their technology budgets on computer hardware.

…After receiving teacher and student feedback from the 2012–2013 school year, Hillsborough sold its iPads and will distribute 4,600 Chromebooks by the fall of 2014. The students in Harmsen’s class had been on Hillsborough’s iPad pilot team, and Harmstead admits she was a little disappointed when the district chose to go with Chromebooks. She said being on the pilot iPad team transformed her classroom approach after 24 years of teaching and made her a digital-education advocate. But now that she’s spent a full year using the new device—a pared-down laptop that stores files on the Internet—she agrees with the decision.

Other iPad pilot teachers came to see the benefits of laptop capabilities, too. “At the end of the year, I was upset that we didn’t get the iPads,” said seventh-grade science teacher Larissa McCann. “But as soon as I got the Chromebook and the kids started using it, I saw, ‘Okay, this is definitely much more useful.’ ”

 While nobody hated the iPad, by any means, the iPad was edged out by some key feedback, said Joel Handler, Hillsborough’s director of technology. Students saw the iPad as a “fun” gaming environment, while the Chromebook was perceived as a place to “get to work.” And as much as students liked to annotate and read on the iPad, the Chromebook’s keyboard was a greater perk — especially since the new Common Core online testing will require a keyboard. (MEW bolded)

Another important finding came from the technology support department: It was far easier to manage almost 200 Chromebooks than the same number of iPads. Since all the Chromebook files live in an online “cloud,” students could be up and running in seconds on a new device if their machine broke. And apps could be pushed to all of the devices with just a few mouse clicks.

 

From The Washington Post and I gave my students iPads — then wished I could take them back:

One of my saddest days in my digital classroom was when the children rushed in from the lunchroom one rainy recess and dashed for their iPads. Wait, I implored, we play with Legos on rainy days! I dumped out the huge container of Legos that were pure magic just a couple of weeks ago, that prompted so much collaboration and conversation, but the delight was gone. My students looked at me with disdain. Some crossed their arms and pouted. We aren’t kids who just play anymore, their crossed arms implied. We’re iPad users. We’re tech-savvy. Later, when I allowed their devices to hum to glowing life, conversation shut down altogether.

I knew that the lure of the screen would continue at home each night. Many of the students had screens at home already, but this one was different: It was their very own, it was portable, and it carried the stamp of approval of teacher, school and district. Do the adults in their homes still feel the authority to tell them to put that screen away and go outside and play?

Districts all over the country are buying into one-to-one tablet initiatives, and for younger and younger students. These screens have been rebranded “digital learning devices,” carrying the promise of education success for millions of our communities’ education dollars. Yet there is some evidence that tablets can be detrimental to learning.

A study released in September by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development looked at school tech initiatives in more than three dozen countries (although not the United States) and found that while students who use computers moderately show modest gains over those who rarely do, heavy technology use has a negative impact. “Students who use computers very frequently at school do a lot worse in most learning outcomes, even after accounting for social background and student demographics,” the report concluded.

We have also known for years — at least since the 2012 report “Facing the Screen Dilemma” from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood — that screen time for younger children in particular comes with a huge opportunity cost, depriving them of hands-on learning, time outdoors and “face-to-face interactions with caring adults.” Digital-savvy parents in Silicon Valley made news way back in 2011 for enrolling their children in steadfastly screen-free schools. They knew that their kids would be swiping and clicking soon enough, but there are only a limited number of childhood years when it’s not only really fun to build with Legos, it’s also really good for you.

 

From Psychology Today and Five Reasons iPads Should NOT Be In Classrooms:

1. There is no evidence they improve learning

2. iPads only add to the financial problems of our education system

3. iPads are distracting

4. Onscreen reading is NOT comparable to traditional reading

5. Children need less screen time, not more

 

and the money paragraph from the article: In the five short years since the iPad was invented, it has shaken up the education system- for better or worse. As journalist H.L. Mencken once quipped, ‘for every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.’ There is no simple game plan for such a multifaceted and diverse agenda as an education system, where one size can never fit all cultures, ages and abilities. Perhaps however, before a parent or teacher hands over an iPad to improve or accelerate learning, they should ask first what precisely the outcomes are that they wish to achieve.

 

The latest school district parental push against iPad use is in Cupertino, California.  From iPads ignite furor in schools:

District officials and many teachers tout the iPads as innovative learning tools. Students, it seems, are thrilled to have them. But many parents in the affluent district—including some software engineers, Apple employees and a brain researcher—question the benefit of the devices, and hundreds have signed a petition to limit their use.

They say the iPads have introduced new worries, from privacy to video-game distractions, sowing family discord over screen time. And they resent being asked to pay hundreds of dollars for school equipment that state law says is the district’s responsibility.

“iPads are entertainment devices,” said Noemi Berry, a network engineer and mother of a Lawson Middle School seventh-grader and two other children. “They’re not designed for education, and they’re very hard to restrict. I have a 12-year-old boy who has a horrible screen addiction problem.”

 

Below is the petition from Cupertino parents with their concerns, requests and additional links about hacking, psychological concerns and financial burdens on school districts:

  https://www.change.org/p/limit-ipads-to-classrooms-an-option-parents-want-from-cusd

CUSD ipad petition

 

When you are examining your school district budgets and appeal for more money, perhaps a good start determining what can be pared down might be the technology expenses.  It’s a burgeoning industry paid for by the taxpayers.  From Results of the 2016 National Digital Curriculum Strategy Survey:

 

The survey found that 78 percent of students nationally have access to a computing device for a good portion of the school day or the full school day. It also forecasts that district spending on hardware, networks, and major system software will see a slight increase in 2017, rising to $16.2 billion.

The top three digital device trends the survey found were the following: 1) tablets are losing popularity; 2) Chromebooks have had the most significant gain in popularity, a trend that is likely to continue; and 3) there is no agreement among schools about the best device based on the age of the student. Further, even though schools cite 79–91 percent network coverage in classrooms and common areas, it’s not enough to support the burgeoning use of digital curriculum. The networks are considered “unreliable” by most teachers.

The Survey found that 86 percent of schools and districts expect to be spending more on digital curriculum in the new year. 56 percent of respondents say teachers already use 50-75 percent paid resources over free open-education resources for their digital learning objects. However, billions in spending on curriculum overall has yet to move from paper textbooks into digital: 80 percent of respondents said district curriculum budgets still haven’t shifted from paper-based resources.

2016 was also the highest year on record for digital curriculum spending. A 25 percent jump was due to years of non-adoption of textbooks in several states, causing more digital acquisitions at the same time that the market reached an inflection point of saturation of devices.

 

If increased technology has not increased academic achievement and/or outcomes, then school board members must be asked why they vote for large expenses without research/data proving they will indeed educational outcomes.  If they vote to implement these technological expenses, taxpayers must hold them accountable when they ask for more money ‘for the kids’.  Who knows if Chromebooks will be successful in the intended outcomes?  It’s more and more likely that iPads are a thing of the past (it’s difficult to use them for Common Core assessment testing) so will the next expensive item on school board agendas for technology be Chromebooks?  Where is the research/data showing their effectiveness in raising student achievement/outcomes?

Just what is the agenda of school districts utilizing unproven technology and millions of taxpayer dollars to reach seemingly unattainable USDOEd goals of student achievement?  What character education lesson does this impart to students?  And for those parents aware of what this technology really imparts….data mining….that’s another concern addressed time and time again on this website.  Watch for an upcoming post on how school districts have been threatened by hackers for ‘ransomware’ when student personal identifiable data was stolen.  Additional budget line items you should be watching for from your school district is how much it will budget for ransom to retrieve stolen data and security programs to protect the technology that hasn’t quite delivered what it promised.

 

 

 

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