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
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
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
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.