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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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iPad is a great learning tool
By vision33r on 4/15/2011 9:42:33 AM , Rating: 2
The great thing about the iPad is that it can be used to learn just about anything with the right app and anyone even as young as age 2 can use it for learning.

My 2 year old is learning about shapes and colors. There are many good apps to help him learn the basics.

I let him try my Android tablet and he quickly throws it aside for the iPad. I blame that on the complexity of Honeycomb and lack of apps.

Anyhow, the iPad is a great medium for kids to run educational apps than using the keyboard and mouse which can be a challenge for preschool kids.

All the uninformed troll comments in this thread are coming from people with no kids or have never worked with young kids before.

By redpriest_ on 4/16/2011 3:37:14 AM , Rating: 2
Honestly, this is a great idea, in my opinion.

My son has been using the iPad since it came out (my wife and I bought one each, and he uses my wife's when she's not using it), and he's 2 1/2 years old now. He's a pro at navigating to the apps he wants to use, he can unlock it, and it provides endless hours of amusement for him, and us, as there are many brilliant kid-oriented apps. He's learned so many words just from seeing the picture of it on the screen, hearing it, and then repeating it back.

It's a tough device - we have it in a case, and it's gone through some pretty tough wear and tear.

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