Sunday, November 11, 2012

iPads for Kids

I've toyed with starting a second, professional blog, but I've decided instead to marry the teacher and the mother that I am and combine them -- with a twist.  From now on I will periodically include posts about education that are specifically of interest to parents.  In other words, I'd like to share with my non-teacher friends, trends and developments and hot topics in education that they might be interested in as parents, aunts and uncles, or grandparents.

Now straight to my first topic: do you give your toddlers, never mind your primary school-aged children, iPads?

We don't have a TV in our home, and I am the first to cringe when I see kids frittering away hours with various technology.  But a recent conversation with Dr. Shabbi Luthra, Director of Technology at the American School of Bombay, confirmed my growing hunch that 'protecting' my children from technology would be doing them a tremendous disservice.  The key is teaching your children how to responsibly and correctly use technology.  After all, it's as much about the skills that 21st century learners need to navigate this new digital age, as it is the incredible possibilities for creativity and collaboration that technology opens up.

Imagine this: a grade one class in Toronto is learning to read and write.  Their teacher types up their stories and posts them on the class blog.  She uses her own Facebook network to spread the word and encourage teachers in other countries to read and comment on her class' blog.  The students check in daily to read and respond to comments, and add thumbtacks on a map on the classroom wall to represent all the places in the world their blog is being read.  They have live Skype chats with students at an international school in Seoul, Korea.  They write each other letters.  And this is just the beginning.

The above is not specific to the iPad, but rather shows how technology enables kids to collaborate and get outside of the classroom.  For more specific uses of the iPad in the classroom (or for ideas you could modify and use at home), click here for an October 31st post on Edutopia, George Lucas' educational foundation.

So do you think kids should have access to iPads or not?  

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