Rock ‘N Learn got our first iPad when it debuted in the U.S. on April 3, 2010. I was so excited that I posted a YouTube video that afternoon showing the possibilities for the iPad and education. My YouTube video has received over 9,000 views—not exactly going viral (I didn’t smash or blend it) but definitely generating interest. I discussed some of the reasons why tablet computing could change how we educate students:
- Get rid of heavy backpacks that frequently cause back strain and even contribute to serious conditions like scoliosis.
- Electronic textbooks should cost less than paper textbooks, which have become quite expensive.
- Help the environment by reducing paper waste.
- Provide a portable Internet experience larger than a smart phone yet easier to carry than laptops.
- Allow students to connect with a community of learners nearby or worldwide.
- Assist teachers with the goal of providing differentiated instruction, addressing how students learn in a variety of ways.
- Enable interactive content with touch, sight, and sound.
- Entertaining videos can be embedded within text.
In fact, what impressed me most about my first experience with the iPad was how great videos looked. Even Rock ‘N Learn video samples viewed from YouTube looked amazing.
Certainly we’ll see plenty of tablet computers that compete with the iPad—perhaps a few that offer advantages over the iPad. However, we were immediately impressed with the Apple iTunes store, and how it does a good job approving apps before they are placed on the Apple marketplace—leading to better quality apps that actually work as intended.
Excited about the possibilities, we immediately started developing Rock ‘N Learn iPad apps for learning to read and released our first app in August. Last week our second app received approval and is available on iTunes. More are on the way—very soon—and we have lots of exciting ideas in planning or development.
And now for Reason Number 9 why I believe tablet computing will revolutionize education: A generation of young teachers are entering the profession that grew up with personal computers in their homes. Many of them have used social media and smart phones for some time now. They do not share the same nostalgia for printed books common among older generations. A few even met their spouses over the Internet. I’ve heard from parents with teenagers that teen parties can be an unusual gathering these days. You’ll likely see teens sitting around with their smart phones texting each other and posting on Facebook—maybe to others in the same room!
My son-in-law is a high school social studies teacher. This year he started a new job closer to home to avoid an hour and half commute into the inner city school where he had worked. He’s technologically savvy when it comes to devices, even writing apps for interactive white boards, building his own computers, and reading several tech blogs. So I suggested he volunteer for any technology committees that might be at his school. He got appointed to one, and three days ago he walked into my office to show me his new iPad issued by his school for each of the tech committee members. He had not even had time to open the box, but he was ready to get to work and evaluate the merits of bringing the iPad to his high school. The committee had set specific goals to guide their decision-making process.
So, what do you think about tablet computing coming to education? Is this just a fad or the beginning of a revolution?