Technology has changed a lot since many of us were in high school – from simple pocket calculators to phones that have more processing power than the Apollo spacecrafts that landed on the moon.
In just under 10 years, wireless Internet itself has expanded from a slow transfer rate and short range to transmitters that can spread the Internet to an entire office building with blazing speeds. Computers have gone from large, tower-based machines with bulky monitors to laptops and tablets that can fit in manila envelopes.
It's an amazing change of pace and with these changes, education has had to rapidly try to adapt. Many schools throughout Long Island are equiped with full-blown wireless Internet access.
Garden City has iPads in pilot programs in each school building.
"We are piloting tablet use at the primary, elementary, middle and high school levels and in content areas across the curriculum while developing our infrastructure and a solid method of assessing how tablet computers improve student learning," said Dr. Rita Melikian, director of educational technology and staff development. "Our special education teachers and speech pathologists, in particular, have been utilizing the specialized applications available on the iPad."
Tablet PCs and eBook readers like the Amazon Kindle offer a wide range of possibilities through interactive textbooks, digital applications, light-weight and are enviornmentally friendly overall.
Melikian says the school district wants to be deliberate about its expansion of tablet use and is monitoring usage in other districts to keep fully informed.
"The district’s iPad user group meets throughout the year and is working to define and quantify effective tablet use in the classroom setting. Tablets are another tool teachers can use to deliver instruction – when it comes down to it, though, a good teacher trumps all," she said.
The drawbacks are numerous, of course – iPads cost $499 to start and even a basic Amazon Kindle is $79 while many textbooks are free as a part of the education system. The devices are sought after by everyone and sell well on the black market, which could make school children the targets of someone looking to make a buck.
Should schools start switching over to Tablet PC devices like the Kindle or iPad or continue using print textbooks? Let us know in the comments below.