I've been using iPads in school for a few months now and I can honestly say that I think they're AMAZING - they:
- have a child-friendly design;
- are easy to hold;
- are very vast to start up in lessons (just swipe to unlock);
- have a very long battery life.
Indeed, a quick survey of children in my school told me that about two thirds of them had or had regular access to an iPad at home so there are many opportunities for encouraging home-school links through them - asking a child to search and install a particular app is much easier than giving them a long URL to remember.
Over the summer I worked extremely hard to completely re-write my school's ICT curriculum to incorporate the iPads into it (see this blog post) - after many hours of researching and exploring different apps I managed to come up with a plan that involves me teaching as many ICT lessons as possible with them.
I strongly believe that tablet technology is the future since it is so much simpler and more intuitive to use than a regular PC. This therefore means that it is much easier to embed into classroom learning. If you think about it, most subjects can quite easily be supported by using iPad apps:
- games for maths;
- typing in Notes/Pages/Keynote for literacy;
- web browsing using Safari for topic research;
- painting apps for art.
It is worth pointing out however that there are several things that cannot (at the moment at least) be completed on an iPad as they need a Flash-enabled computer to function fully and I have yet to find good enough iPad alternatives for them:
- BBC Learning Clips;
- my Infant Encyclopedia website;
- Google Forms and Spreadsheets;
- Microsoft Excel;
- Google Sites;
- PowerPoint drawing tools;
- Trimble Sketchup.
As you can see, most of these are fairly technical programs that would likely only be used in specific ICT lessons (e.g. for teaching programming). At the moment therefore, I roughly predict that about a third of my ICT lessons this year will need to involve working on our Windows laptops. For other subjects though, I reckon that iPads could be used most of the time and I really do hope that apps will be developed in the forthcoming months to allow me to increase their usage in ICT lessons too.
(For teachers, I still do think that a laptop is needed to enable Smart Board connectivity to write with and to create tables in documents for writing lesson plans into).