This was a very interesting article. Research conducted at an elementary school in Minnesota concluded that students improved on sight-word recognition, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary recognition. The data confirmed elevated average gains and/or higher end-of-year success for students with routine iPad use. Special needs students also scored 15-20% higher in “time on task” (TOT) than students who were not using iPads. The classes used different apps for sight words, fluency, comprehension, vocabulary, and literacy. The teachers did come across a few obstacles, which included, lack of time, lack of direction, technical problems, noisy apps, and the limitation of apps for comprehension. Overall, the teachers that used the iPads with at-risk learners suggested that they truly did make a difference in sight word recognition, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary recognition and meaning.
Q1. How would less fortunate districts have the funding to purchase iPads for their first grade at-risk learners?
A1. I think providing students from an early age with iPads is a great idea, and in the long run would cost the districts less money than buying textbooks. The problem I see is that districts with more money would be able to provide these resources to their students, but less fortunate districts would be left even further behind. I would suggest starting this idea in the lower income neighborhoods first because these students are already at a disadvantage. Most students in lower income households don’t even have computers at home. In contrast, students from higher income households have the resources at home to use these online tools. With a little guidance from the teachers, these parents can get their children onto these sites at home.
Q2. Can introducing iPads and other technological advances at such a young age actually do more harm than good when it comes to writing?
A2. I have actually seen in some of my college courses where students write papers and interact with people over email the same way they would write a text message. I think as educators we need to instruct our students from a young age about the differences between writing a text message and scholarly writing. Students who are not prepared for corporate America or professional jobs will fail due to the lack of preparation. Technology is amazing when used properly. Over time, educators are becoming better prepared on how to use technology in the classroom and how to integrate it into the curriculum properly. As long as teachers and students are both being educated on the use of technology, I see the use of iPads and other technological devices in the classroom as one of the greatest breakthroughs in education of all time.