Image: Cedars School
It’s Education Week on CultofMac.com. How’s Apple doing in schools these days? What are the best education apps? Is iTunes U worthwhile? Join us as we learn more about Apple in Education.
Cedars School in Greenock, Scotland, has become the first school in the world to deploy an iPad to every child in the age groups it serves (roughly 5 to 16 year-olds). We’ve mentioned this effort before, so Cult of Mac decided to check in on the project again for our Education special and see how they’re doing.
“The iPad has become far more embedded in our school day than I ever thought it would become,” Fraser Speirs, the architect behind the project, wrote on his blog.”
Speirs is a teacher and the school’s IT organizer, he has been blogging about the project from the outset. His posts have detailed the highs and lows, the joys and occasional frustrations. Overall it’s very clear that the whole thing has been a positive experience:
“It’s too early to say if the project has been a success in terms of improving children’s results but the implementation and deployment of the project has been very successful.”
“I would say that the class that has been changed the most by the iPad is Art. There are so many great iPad apps for art that we have found many uses. It has impacted other classes too, though. For example, our English teachers now have to help pupils keep within the word limits for exam board essays because writing and redrafting on the iPad is so easy compared to writing and re-writing by hand.”
It’s worth noting that the school hasn’t chosen iPads just for the sake of it. Speirs’ recent strategy post makes clear that the decision was made because iPads are, as things stand, the best solution to the problem:
“I don’t much care if, in five years, we’re using Android tablets – as long as those Android tablets last longer, are easier to use and deploy, are better and cheaper than an iPad. If future devices deliver information faster and better than an iPad, then we’ll switch to those devices.”
Discussing the evolution of the teaching curriculum that this technology provides, Speirs and his contributors developed a list of criteria necessary for success. From the learner’s perspective, technology should be:
•Everywhere, ready to use.
•Easy to use.
•Desirable to use.
•Challenging my skills.
•It should play to my passions
•Used in useful contexts (from the learner’s perspective)
“What the iPad has allowed us to do is to bring digital resources up to the same level of availability as paper resources in our teaching. It’s unthinkable that pupils would only have one or two hours of access to books each week, yet that was the position with digital resources before we deployed the iPad.”
[Portions of this story contributed by Adam Rosen and Leander Kahney]