P. Malcolm: Don't be too quick

Concerning the proposal to replace laptops with iPads in middle schools (Sun Journal, March 14): We shouldn't be too quick to replace laptops.

As useful as it is, and as user friendly, an iPad is not yet an actual computer. For one thing, there is no keyboard, which teaches valuable composition and navigation skills. For some, the act of typing data is a kinetic memory tool. Keyboarding is more conducive to writing papers and complete sentences, including proper spelling and punctuation, while a pad encourages more informal texting abbreviations.

iPads are slowly moving toward more computer functionality and memory capacity and, in a few years, they may be a more viable option at the middle school level.

Pads are an ideal tool for the early grades, including pre-K, but are not yet suited for middle school academic activity.

Pat Malcolm, Lewiston

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Comments

Oh I totally agree

Don't teach the kids to use computers. Don't give them the basic technology skills that will be essential to their future. It will ensure my job security and I won't have to worry about getting pushed out of my tech job to make room for a kid with a computer science degree. You're absolutely right. Computers should be reserved for smart old guys like me. Get rid of all the computers in the schools. Make them get their own. Oh, they can't afford them? WHat a shame, another for the welfare rools. Oh wait, you think that's a waste of our tax dollars too.

Jason Theriault's picture

iPads are better.

First off - a keyboard doesn't make a computer. The first computers used punch cards, so just because a keyboard is synonymous with computers now, doesn't mean that will allways be the case.

Secondly, bluetooth keyboards are cheap. I can get one right now from Amazon for $15 , and it's waterproof and flexable, making it pratically unbreakable.

Third - The program works. Before my son enrolled in kindergarten, I wanted to know what the deal was with the iPads. The first year, they did a study(half using iPads, half as a control without) and found the kids using iPads AND the customized lessons did better across the board. The trick is that the iPads allow for kids to complete lessons electronically, which means progress can be monitored easier and tracked, so a teacher can customize lessons for each student, and make sure they get help where they need it.

And as a parent watching from the outside, they are not ignoring traditional learning. iPads are only a small part of the education. But it can allow for more customization and makes the teachers far more effective.

You know, people don't yell at doctors about using the latest drugs and technology. They trust in the education and expertise that they know what they are doing. Why is it when teachers show scientific evidence that this works do they still have people telling them to stick to slide rules?

MICHAEL LEBLANC's picture

This discussion depends on what you mean by "did better".

On what? Do they do better on school assignments? Do they do better in life after school? I see no correlation between the two. Since King Angus started it, my observation has remained constant: the school system is spewing out kids who can't spell, can't perform elementary arithmetic, and can't even hold a pen, let alone write something legible. Yet every one of those kids believes the propaganda - that he has been pre-qualified for a "good job" involving computers. When real life arrives, he often is completely unprepared.

If you set your sights low enough that all you care about is performance on contrived assignments, then I guess anything is better than pencil and paper.

Jason Theriault's picture

They did better on testing

They did better on standardized testing done at the beginning and the end of the study. Here's a link to a story with more on the methodology:
http://www.centerdigitaled.com/classtech/iPad-Kindergarten-Research.html

Now, I can't speak about kids not being able to write or perform arithmetic, but I would like to see some hard numbers instead of just speculation(My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with the girl who says kids are doing worse in school)

Maine is in the top 10 states in math and writing according to the department of education.
http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/

MARK GRAVE's picture

You do know that the iPad is

You do know that the iPad is capable to supporting a Bluetooth wireless keyboard, right?
Perhaps a bit of remedial technology training should be in your future.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Another taxpayer burden.

Who's going to pay for that super duper Bluetooth wireless keyboard? Perhaps a bit of simple civics should be in your future.

MICHAEL LEBLANC's picture

A low-end iPad3 is $499

A wireless keyboard is $69. That's a total of $568. A low-end MacBook Pro is $1,199. Perhaps a bit of elementary arithmetic should be in your future.

That said, I think we should not give students either one. We have already crippled an entire generation. Let's stop now before we create even more potential welfare recipients.

Why stick to apple?

A mid-range Android tablet can be had for $200, plus the $20 bluetooth keyboard. Wow, I just saved another $300 per student.

MARK GRAVE's picture

Apple sales team did a good

Apple sales team did a good job convincing the taxpayers to foot the bill. I’m with most of these people on this topic – an unnecessary expense, especially when schools are crying for more money.

That said, asserting that an iPad is not a real computer because it lacks a keyboard, as the original letter author said, is simply displaying the ignorant badge – wear it proudly my fellow citizen, wear it proudly.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Mike

No matter what the cost, it's too much for a program that, and I agree with you, does not better educate our youth. I've maintained this since Angus King said it would be the best thing since slice bread. Today kids can't count back change unless they see it on a screen. Lap tops, I-pads and all other electronic gadgets should be introduced into the learning process after students have acquired the skills they need to get through life using math, writing and spelling skills, problem solving skills with pencil and paper and a bit of common sense.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Mike

No matter what the cost, it's too much for a program that, and I agree with you, does not better educate our youth. I've maintained this since Angus King said it would be the best thing slice slice bread. Today kids can't count back change unless they see it on a screen. Lap tops, I-pads and all other electronic gadgets should be introduced into the learning process after students have acquired the skills they need to get through life using math, writing and spelling skills, problem solving skills with pencil and paper and a bit of common sense.

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