iPad in EducationOne of the emerging trends in the classroom has been the introduction of various technologies. Today that trend seems to be defined by “The App” and in particular one tablet that seems to drive the market: The iPad.

Of course sometimes by looking forward we can gain some nice insights by looking backwards first, so indulge us a very quick and cursory walk through memory lane.

First we had the desktop computer which offered a ton of promise. And yes, the desktop computer did make a difference, but there were a few factors working against it including both the newness of the concept of computing as well as the size. Along with the desktop we also got to meet a new breed of “super calculator” – we are of course referring to the scientific calculator, this wonderful portable device that allowed our students to calculate sines, cosine and tangets. Yes, with these technologies we saw a real appreciation for what computing technology could offer the classroom.

The next wave came to the classroom through the laptop. Suddenly, computer portability was less of an issue, although both costs and access were still an issue. As students became more comfortable with laptops in many of our lectures, particularly at the collegiate level what used to the sounds of pages being turned was now being replaced by the clatter of keyboards as students were frantically typing away. In addition, as the laptop really came into its own, educators were also suddenly considerably more empowered to introduce all kinds of wonderful lecture materials to their students (the power of PowerPoint!) That said, the laptop introduced to our classrooms a real appreciation for what was yet to come, but also what now felt almost attainable.

Of course today, everything is quickly going “mobile” and suddenly students are able to walk around with the full curriculum in their pockets! In addition we are seeing all kinds of wonderful uses for the iPad (here is good article highlighting some really great examples of the iPad in the classroom) led in large part by a faster and smarter internet, and an amazing market place to help support these new platforms. Even going beyond the iPad, the world of educational Apps is exploding right now – both for Apple products and also for the Droid platform. With the help of a smart phone students not only in America, but across the entire globe are suddenly able to access massive amounts of educational materials. Truly amazing.

In fact not only are student accessing these materials, but they are also actively internalizing the entire delivery process in ways that only a few years ago were entirely unimaginable – A recent study by Project Tomorrow asked asked students from kindergarten through 12th grade one simple question:

“If you could create the ideal mobile app for learning, what would it look like?”

They received over 200,000 responses! 200,000! Read here to see a small sampling of some of those responses.

It is utterly amazing and truly inspirational to see so many people working so hard to help ensure that all our children have access to information in ways that only until recently was not achievable. While we love that tools like the iPad as well as the other tablets that are right behind it are starting to make their way into the classroom, and we love that there is beginning to be a really strong marketplace to help support these tools, what we are even more excited about it what is coming around the corner. What that corner offers is still up for debate, but one thing is for sure, based on the rate of evolving technology the future does seem to hold immense promise for all our students.

Feel free to share with us your own thoughts on how you see technology informing the classroom in the comments section below.

Photo Credit: Apple

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