This week had the pleasure of visiting an 'outstanding', secondary school, and was shown around by a very lovely year 8 student who pointed out all of the things that she was particularly proud of around her school.
When asked about the use of iPads in school her face lit up as she said, we are ALL going to get an iPad this year, one each!
This was an excellent school, whose buildings were in desperate need of work, the whole site, like most state secondary schools needed a shot of money. Given the cost, and that this was the day after a report on the potential for technology to be disruptive in schools was released I really did pause for thought.
I'm a massive fan of appropriate use of technology in schools, but the idea of every child having an iPad strikes even me as utter madness! Its nothing like the image I have of the use of iPads in schools and has enormous potential to harm learning.
The primary schools that I am in and out of have an excellent grasp of appropriate, targeted use of technology. There might be 8 iPads for a class, which are used in small group work to target particular skills or to support particular project work.
Secondary schools have been slower to grasp the changes in technology. I had assumed best practice in secondary schools would involve class sets which could be booked out by a teacher for a particular lesson. This lesson would have been carefully designed around a learning objective and the iPad would be used for part of the lesson to help with a particular activity.
Anyone who works with kids or has their own knows that for some kids if there is a device around its all that they are interested in. It can be a real distraction and should be hidden away unless it is an integral part of a lesson.
The potential of touch screen devices to support and personalise learning is huge, it would be such a shame to waste the opportunity on costly distractions.