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  (Source: iPads House)
Brings whole new meaning to the phrase "early adopters"

How young is too young to begin embracing personal computing technology? Are gadgets like smartphones and tablets valid educational tools? Are they worth the cost?

Those questions speak to the heart of a USA Today article, which reports that almost 300 kindergarten students in Auburn, Maine, will be receiving Apple iPad2's next fall along with their chocolate milk and crayons. 

"It’s definitely an adventure, and it’ll be a journey of learning for teachers and students," Auburn kindergarten teacher Amy Heimerl told USA Today.

But not everyone is thrilled about the proposition of spending $200,000 -- the cost Superintendent Tom Morrill plans to incur -- on the high-tech gadgets. "I understand you have to keep up with technology, but I think a 5-year old is a little too young to understand," Auburn mother Sue Millard says in the report.

The superintendent disagreed. "It’s a revolution in education," Morrill said, citing the iPad's hundreds of educational applications and simple-to-use touchscreen. 

Maine has been ahead of the curve when it comes to personal technology in the classroom. It was the first state to distribute laptops (Apple iMacs) to all seventh and eighth graders nearly 10 years ago. The former Maine governor who launched that initiative, Angus King, believes in the iPad program. "If your students are engaged, you can teach them anything," King says in the report. "If they’re bored and looking out the window, you can be Socrates and you’re not going to teach them anything. These devices are engaging."

But Maine is not the first state to give its tots tablets, either. "Schools in Omaha, Neb.; Columbiana, Ohio; Huntington, W. Va.; Paducah, Ky.; Charleston, S.C.; and Scottsdale, Ariz., are among the places where kindergarten pupils are using them," USA Today reports.

"We can’t say whether what the school district in Maine or anywhere else is doing is good or not good," Peter Pizzolongo of the National Association for the Education of Young Children told USA Today, "but what we can say is when the iPad or any other technological tool is used appropriately, then it’s a good thing for children’s learning."

Superintendent Morrill said that most of the criticism of the iPad plan has been of the plan's cost, not about the age-appropriateness. He plans to raise the money "from foundations, the federal government, the local school department, and other sources."

If nothing else, the development is one step closer to Bill Gates' vision of education in the future.

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RE: meh
By kattanna on 4/14/2011 11:24:59 AM , Rating: 2
well part of the problem i have with this is the lack of teacher education with such devices.

it amazes me how in the college i am in i have teachers who have to call support to help them plug in their laptops to the overhead projector. REALLY??

and thats those who even have them, most dont.

so while its great we are trying to give new tools to students for learning, if the teachers dont have a clue as to how to use them or exploit their potential.. we are missing the point and are then only wasting money.

As someone who has worked in the IT field now for decades, its appalling how un technical our schools and teachers really are.

fix that first please.

RE: meh
By HrilL on 4/14/2011 12:29:44 PM , Rating: 2
I completely agree. I've been doing IT stuff since I was in high school. I've had to help teachers all my life. I find it immensely troubling that a professor has no problem wasting 10-20 minutes waiting for support at the start of a class. And they don't even want to learn how to solve such a simple problem. That is in fact not a computer problem but a USER problem.

RE: meh
By snakeInTheGrass on 4/14/2011 8:06:23 PM , Rating: 2
Look at the connector progression - we've gone from VHF/UHF adapter on channel 2/3 to composite to proprietary to VGA to DVI to dual-channel DVI to HDMI to Display Port to Mini Display Port to Thunderbolt... wait, which of these outputs on this system that the school handed me do I need to plug in to (thankfully they gave the prof a Dell that still has a serial port...), what Function-Some-Cryptic-Symbol key will actually put a signal ON the cable (there's a key combination that does that!?!?), then how do I select the input on the projectors screwy menu system...

My wife doesn't know how to set the signal path from the appropriate component input on my pre-processor to select the DVD player vs. Wii vs. XBox 360 vs. AppleTV vs. HTPC vs. PS2, switch the projector in the home theater to the correct input, and then figure out why there's no picture (or better yet, no sound) - and she doesn't even have to try connect cables on top of it. Imagine someone else has used the home theater and disconnected an audio cable in back to maybe try something out and forgot to put something back... home-IT-staff to the rescue. ;) Anyway, she doesn't care to figure it out, it's not interesting to her.

So unless the prof is tech-oriented or happens to be interested in the problem, that's why there's an IT person to figure it out - because the setup is still too complicated. Prof plugs the cable in, it still won't show a damned picture... sorry class, where's that friggin' IT guy who won't make this simpler?

Seemingly we're getting to where wireless or at least 1 standard interconnect cable can solve this, but of course it's going to take years for that to roll out, and by then there'll be a new, even better standard cable again. :)

Anyway, get the tech out of the way for most people - the majority just don't care how this all works. The geeks do, and will keep making it cooler.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates
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