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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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By rlandess on 4/16/2011 2:44:54 PM , Rating: 2
As school budgets go 200k is not much. But what else could you buy for 200k? Students already have access to a lot of technology. Ipads are not a frugal way to get touch screen technology to the kids. Apple has hooked the school systems again with a limited platform that offers a few useful programs but will cost the school systems a lot of cash over the life of the product. Most IT people I have worked with agreed that the features available on the Ipad would be available in a lower cost platform that would better integrate into the existing infrastructure at most schools. But of course our school jumped the gun and bought in like everyone else. 60k later we get a nice write up in the paper about being progressive but now we have to support these expensive turds.

And anyone who advocates Apple dumbing down of technology should keep it to yourselves. If you want to learn about technology then there is an amount of effort that has to be made to understand the underlying logic and reason behind the machine. Everyone doesn't use a lot of math beyond addition and multiplication in their adult lives but we all have to take algebra and geometry. These classes help us understand difficult concepts that allow us to develop and learn better. Just because 98% of people won't get into IT at some point in their lives doesn't mean that they shouldn't have to learn a little about the inner workings of the devices they will use everyday for the rest of their lives.

Think about the movie Idiocracy. If everyone used Apple products then in just a few generations there wouldn't be anyone left to fix your Icrap.




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