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February 15, 2012

About iPads In The Classroom

I woke up this morning to a local blogger I respect getting all hot and heavy about this decision by a local school district.

Fort Bend ISD is going high-tech. The school board approved an $18 million plan to replace textbooks with iPads.

Supporters say the move will help boost students’ science scores. It will also make grading papers and handing out assignments easier for teachers.

The iPads will put in second through eighth grade classrooms over the next two and a half years.

My fellow blogger offered the following objections.

As far as I know, there are no scientific studies proving that the use of iPads over textbooks lead to higher student test scores. So basically this is just the case of a school district deciding to spend some money on a piece of technology because someone, somewhere has decided it would be cool.

If Texas school districts have $18 Million to blow on "cool" then possibly it's time to re-examine their cries of poor? Or maybe it's just time to tune out Texas lockstep political media and the InterLeft when they band together and tell obvious whoppers. In fact, school funding INCREASED over the last biennium. Just at a slower rate than it would have under the old formula. That's a reduction in growth, NOT a cut. Obviously some ISDs could have used a cut if they're wasting money on items such as this.

I beg to differ. Maybe that’s because I am a teacher and I understand WHY FBISD is doing this.

Our state standards (the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills – TEKS) include technology standards for every course that I am familiar with. The problem is that the technology is often in short supply on a lot of campuses, and so those standards often get short shrift. Most classrooms have only a couple of computers, and school computer labs have to be booked by teachers in advance because so many classes need them. Assignments involving technology can’t be given as homework because we teachers cannot assume that our students have access away from school – especially if we teach in districts with high rates of poverty.

The state has traditionally separated funds for textbooks and technology, but that changed in a recent legislative session. Recognizing that many of our books are available in electronic form – either as programs or online – the legislature authorized districts to start combining technology and textbook funds to purchase electronic textbooks and the means of giving students access to them. And as a side benefit, the sort of technology purchased can also be used to help meet the requirements of the technology TEKS. In other words, we’re looking at a two-fer, not a waste of cash on what’s “cool”. And that, my friends, is both fiscally and educationally responsible.





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Comments on About iPads In The Classroom

Thanks for your input; school books cost a ton of money and I was wondering if these new technologies could be used to save on text books. If it works then it will eventually save tax payers; if not then it couldn't be much worse than what is already going on.

|| Posted by T F Stern, February 15, 2012 05:35 PM ||

Computers in grade schools is largely a waste of money. They always seem to buy the expensive computers when their are viable and almost identical models available for 3-5 times less money. Most of the time kids spend on computers is play time not learning time. In general computers get in the way of learniong as opposed to aiding it. I have worked with computers for over 56 years so I certainly don't have a bias against them. What most people think when they read a sotry like this is if the school system has that much money then lets cut their budget. The school systems in most states/counties are the largest expense and the single biggest source of waste. Undountedly one comeback would be "well children need to learn to use a computer". Well, for the most part children are more proficient on computers then adults. They don't "need" computers in school to learn how to use them. What they NEED in school is old fashioned teaching.

|| Posted by GoneWithTheWind, February 16, 2012 09:05 AM ||

When the state tells you you have to teach technology, then you have to teach technology. And when the technology has the potential to be more cost effective than traditional books, you get a two-fer.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, February 16, 2012 09:08 PM ||

Simple solution. Give the $18 million back to the taxpayers and pay for these ipads with the money supposedly saved by not buying the books. Do that and I will apologize profusely for disagreeing with this decision and the taxpayers will be happy and the school will have a new source of income; i.e. the continuing savings every year from not buying those expensive books.

|| Posted by GoneWithTheWind, February 17, 2012 04:37 PM ||

I don't think you get the point -- this is the book and technology money, not some extra $18 million they have lying around. If they give it back, there is no money for books or technology.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, February 17, 2012 05:32 PM ||
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