What Students Think of iPads in Class

by Jean Tower

In a blog post on iPads in Education, Sam Gliksman reports the result of a survey of high school students who have been using iPads since September.

I find two points of particular interest. The first is that students would prefer laptops over iPads and the second is that the idea of “ownership” is an issue. Since this pilot is not a true 1:1, and is instead a classroom pilot, students report not feeling ownership of the iPad.

Laptops versus iPads

I struggle with this question myself. I can buy refurbished laptops with a 5-year warranty for the same price as an iPad. Therefore, I think we need to be very clear about what our goals are. What are the things we can accomplish with an iPad that we can’t accomplish with a laptop? I think the student buy-in of using a “cool tool” may be a positive factor, but there are other reasons to pilot iPads. What comes to mind?

  • long battery life
  • no long wait for booting up, which delays the start of an already short class time
  • great educational apps
  • even  more mobility than a laptop – easy to pass around and share
  • saving docs not a big issue as we expand the use of Google Apps

Ownership

We have been contemplating a similar pilot, one where we have a cart of laptops and we integrate them into a few select classes to evaluate. Now I am wondering if that’s even a valid pilot. This student’s comment is one that I keep thinking about.

“The only suggestion I have is to have more iPads, so that each student has their own that no one else uses; that way, we can save our work and leave documents/emails open without worrying about them being changed. In addition, none of our settings would be changed by other people.”

Of course, with money so tight, I’m pretty sure we are not getting funds to do a true 1:1 pilot – I don’t think that means we should put off a trial of smaller scope. There are still things to be learned.

If you have an iPad pilot going on in your school or district, I’d love to hear your results. It would be very interesting if you could conduct a survey of students and ask the questions that Sam posed.

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