With the iPad finally becoming available in Canada yesterday, I guess my board thought they’d better issue a reaction immediately. Here’s what they distributed to district staff:
May 28, 2010 – There is tremendous excitement about the new Apple iPad tablet that will be available for sale in Canada on May 28. Though this device looks to be good for personal use and consumption of digital content, initial reviews in the United States report it is difficult to use for the creation of content, especially without an external keyboard. The iPad is not designed to work with applications like Microsoft Office, and initial testing as well as statements from both Google and Apple confirms that the iPad will not work with (our) Student Portal Google applications. At this point in time, the Apple iPad is not approved for District use. Further testing is being planned with respect to the functionality and manageability of the device.
In my opinion, so much is so wrong with this notice. We have been working all year on 21st century literacy and student engagement. Then the moment a new device is available that engages students on their level, provides instant access to all kinds of digital material, and is almost as cheap as a netbook, we dismiss it because it “is difficult to use for the creation of content, especially without an external keyboard.”
I resent the implication that it’s a fun personal device that has no place in schools. I’m not sure who makes these decisions, and they’re not saying we can’t use them, just that the IT guys won’t support them. This means a school that wants to try some innovative things with a class set of iPads will be left all on their own.
The least of my worries is whether it will run Microsoft Office. I’m not teaching kids word processing or spreadsheets. I’m teaching them math. If there’s a device that can provide me access to engaging digital media, allow me to send out compelling problems to all my students, facilitate exploration and inquiry, then I want to use it.
Besides, some of the information in their bulletin is just plain misinformation. You can purchase a Pages app for iPad for only $10 that allows you to word process and export the document as a word document should you so desire. The same is true for Numbers and Excel. It is also untrue that it doesn’t have an external keyboard. One is available and it is relatively cheap. Although I wouldn’t need one for my purposes, an English teacher might.
Am I out to lunch here?