What person, young or old, is not fascinated by the latest electronic gadgets? Such devices allow us to play games, read books and news, listen to music or send messages to friends.
They can also be extraordinary learning tools in the right hands and with proper guidance.
In Londonderry, juniors and seniors in advanced placement environmental science will be part of a pilot program to see just how useful consumer electronic devices can be in a classroom setting. The students will have their own iPads to use this school year. The goal is to bring new teaching styles and new technology into the classroom.
The pilot project, which cost about $14,300, will provide 34 students and two teachers with iPads to use this school year. The tablets must be returned at the end of the school year. But students are allowed to use them outside the classroom, provided it is related to schoolwork.
“These will be tools for education, not social devices or toys,” Londonderry High teacher William Knee told reporter James Niedzinski.
That, of course is key. Apple’s iPad can do just about anything its user demands. It can be used to send email or texts, communicate via social media, play music and games, surf the Internet, or take pictures and upload them to the Web.
And while it can, indeed, be used to do research for one’s environmental science project, it can also be used to get into a great deal of mischief. Anyone who understands the nature of teenagers knows the futility of an order that these devices must only be used for schoolwork.
A good number of the students in Londonderry’s advanced placement classes may already have their own iPads or similar devices. They may even be using them — in between bouts of social networking — to help with their homework.
These devices are part of modern life. There is no reason not to use them in a school setting — as long as they are truly used as aids to learning and not merely as fancy, new publicly subsidized toys.