09 May 2016

iPads in Primary Schools

Like many people out there, I'm a self-confessed Apple user. The iPhone, iPad, iMac provide me access to entertainment, information and platforms on a daily basis.

A few years ago, I introduced my (now) 5-year-old to the world of iPads. As experienced by many parents, the iPad is now the first thing he asks for in the morning, an essential accompaniment for long car trips and often used as a confiscation threat.

iPads are increasingly being used by primary schools, primarily to help induct children into the digital world, enhance learning outcomes and teaching responsible device / internet use.

Do iPads really enhance learning outcomes for primary school students?

The ideal in any school is when key decision makers have a clear purpose and vision for learning before implementing iPads or other similar technologies. Identifying the vision ensures the technology is purchased to enhance learning outcomes rather than having the device dictate opportunities.

Children still of course need to learn non-technical skills to promote their learning development, including creativity. Activities like physical writing/drawing and using physical books and puzzles to get a 'real' experience (different designs and textures) still play a big role in most Australian schools.

Used as a supplementary tool, teachers can blend the iPad and an assortment of available apps into lessons to engage the students, resulting in greater topic understanding and task completion.

Are iPads a safe option given they can potentially access adult material via the internet? 

Most parents and schools would agree that any school who deploys an iPad program needs to be able to do this in a way that protects the wellbeing of the children.

One way primary schools can do this is through CyberHound's RoamSafe  module - allowing schools to manage iPads securely when they are used both on and off the school network. This means if kids need to take an iPad home to complete an activity, the school's online policies remain enforced. RoamSafe can help protect children from indicators of risks such as self-harm, bullying and predatory behaviour on iOS devices.

A final note on iPad use in primary schools - If an iPad gets reluctant students more interested in what's happening in the classroom then that's certainly a good thing!