CPS made iPads available through a grant process in which teachers had to apply for the technology and articulate how the tool would be used in their lesson plans. Using a management program called Absolute Manage MDM, Basit was able to track and oversee the usage of the tablets during the school year. "You can't just hand out iPads just for professional development or training for the teachers," Basit notes. "If you have the teachers who are motivated and know how to use a tool, we've seen some good results."
Basit says the jury is still out on test score improvements, but that the schools have seen improved attendance and a lot more enthusiasm from students. "The kids are eating this stuff up," he says.
While many educators have expressed goodwill toward the use of technology in the classroom, others are resistant to change. According to the study, 17 percent of respondents stated that purchasing new technology provides little benefit for students or instructors.
Kristen House, a former instructor at Belmont University and founder of A Novel Idea, a novel-writing workshop for middle school and high school students, believes that any school with a limited budget should be spending the money on training teachers. "As educators, we're expected to do so much with so very little," House says. "And instead of sitting down and getting to the root of the issue, which is the [student], we throw gadgets at the problem."
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While acknowledging that the use of smart phones and tablets has helped students do research and communicate, House says that the technology is only as good as the teachers that are using it. "A great teacher can do more for a student than any amount of money or technology you can throw at it," she notes. "Gadgets go out of date and humans do not. We only get better with age and with teaching and our gadgets all break down."
Cushing Academy's Tracy believes that educators who are against the implementation of technology in the classroom are fighting a losing battle. "Students inhabit a 21st century world for 18 hours a day," Tracy says. "And, all too often, educators put them in a 19th century classroom for six hours of that day, and the students feel a tremendous disconnect. We have a responsibility to teach them the skills to optimize these tools."
With the implementation of technology being such a popular topic in high school, Bullis School's Roshan—who plans to introduce iPads into her AP calculus class next school year—suggests teachers stick with what makes them the most comfortable. "I don't think that your material ever gets old if you're delivering it effectively," she says.
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