Maine kindergartners getting iPads


Non-verbal autistic children can not get these to use the PEC program, but Maine gets grants to give them to 5 year olds…What is wrong with this picture?

The school committee recently approved spending of about $200,000 for 285 iPads for both students and teachers.

Leroy Walker, leader of the United New Auburn Association, said the iPads “are not needed in the kindergarten age.” He called the tablet “a toy.” Kindergartners “are a little young to be starting off with iPads. They’re too expensive,” he said.

Morrill said he plans to raise the money needed for about 325 iPads and teacher training from foundations, the federal government, the local school department and other sources.

PORTLAND, Maine – Kindergarten is supplementing crayons, finger paints and flashcards with iPads, a development that excites supporters but that detractors worry is wasted on pupils too young to appreciate the expense.
Next fall, nearly 300 kindergartners in the central Maine city of Auburn will become the latest batch of youngsters around the country to get iPad2 touchpad tablets to learn the basics about ABCs, 1-2-3s, drawing and even music.
The iPad is a powerful education tool with hundreds of teaching applications, said Superintendent Tom Morrill. With its touchpad screen, it’s simple to use and can bring learning to life with imagery and sounds, he said.
“It’s a revolution in education,” Morrill said.
The $200,000 that Morrill is proposing to spend on iPads — which retail for around $500 — might be better spent on some other school program, said Sue Millard of Auburn, who has children in the fourth grade and high school. She also questions whether kindergartners are old enough to appreciate the effort.
“I understand you have to keep up with technology, but I think a 5-year old is a little too young to understand,” she said.

Leroy Walker, leader of the United New Auburn Association, said the iPads “are not needed in the kindergarten age.” He called the tablet “a toy.” Kindergartners “are a little young to be starting off with iPads. They’re too expensive,” he said.

My first thought: while the iPad is a great teaching tool, kids this young probably already spend enough time playing with their parents’ computers at home, in the car etc. Kindergarten is probably a better place to run around pelting soft blocks at each other and real-world finger painting rather than staring at individual computer screens.

Maine was the first state to equip students statewide with computers when it distributed Apple laptops to all seventh- and eighth-graders in 2002. The program has since expanded, with laptops parceled out to about 50 percent of high school students. SEE BELOW< Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom
Morrill said most of the criticism has been about the costs during tough economic times — not about whether tablet computers are age-appropriate.

He said he plans to raise the money needed for about 325 iPads and teacher training from foundations, the federal government, the local school department and other sources.

Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom

Reviewed by Leonard H. Elovitz
Coordinator of Graduate Programs in Educational Leadership,
Kean University, Union, N.J.

Billions of dollars have been spent over the past 20 years to provide technology and wiring to our schools. In Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom, Larry Cuban, professor emeritus at Stanford University and past president of the American Educational Research Association, explores whether these expenditures were worthwhile and whether they should be continued.
Cuban, a former superintendent, begins with the assumption that “if technology were introduced to the classroom, it would be used; and if it were used, it would transform schooling.” He tested that assumption by studying computer availability and use at the preschool, high school and university levels in Silicon Valley, Calif.
In his research design, he sought to answer the following questions: How do teachers and students use computers in the classroom? Have teaching and learning changed with the availability of computers and other technologies? Has this investment been worth the cost?
Cuban concludes that the availability of technology has not brought about fundamental changes in the nation’s schools. Although incremental changes can be identified, computers have not transformed the way teachers teach or students learn. Therefore, computers in the classroom have been oversold and underutilized. However, he feels that the concern about the number of computers in the classroom is not as important as the attention that needs to be paid to the “social and civic role that schools perform in a democratic society.”
In the current economic climate, school district administrators must make difficult decisions regarding the expenditure of limited funds. This book provides a lot to think about in reaching those decisions regarding the acquisition and use of technology.
(Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom by Larry Cuban, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 2003, 250 pp. with index, $14.95 softcover)

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