Yes, with regard to the question as to whether iPads are “worth it” in schools, I would argue that they are. Young people need considerable practice with up-to-date technologies in school settings so that they may develop comfort and facility with them as older students and in their future careers. But iPads are not a “magic bullet” solution, meaning, purchasing them alone does not not fix existing issues that schools suffer. Teachers still need to be supported by administration, schools need to be well funded, and parents and families of students need to be included in the education process to support their children. More specifically to the iPads, schools need to develop a well-informed philosophy about how they should be used during instruction. Without thinking carefully about how iPads should be used, not just that they should be purchased, iPads could end up gathering dust in the back of a classroom and go unused.
Although young people are, at present, among the fastest adopters of certain digital technologies, this does not eliminate a need for high quality technology and related instruction in school settings.
First, in the case of the United States, there are still gaps in the types of skills that young people bring to school. These gaps seem to occur predictably along lines of race and family income, given the history of inequalities along these axes in our country. French students may also benefit from further instruction with digital technology depending on their family circumstances. Second, providing students with many opportunities to use digital technologies for learning in school settings is critically important because it prepares them to tinker with technology in institutional settings. A student may be fully comfortable playing a video game at home, but it is a completely different matter to learn how to build a website or create a collaborative, online document at school. Such exposure to digital technology at school is necessary if we expect students to develop fluency with digital platforms and to begin developing technical innovations in schools settings and, later on, at their future workplaces.
Crédit photo: henri, M, using iPad.