June 03, 2011

iPad Going Abroad as Asian Schools Adopt the Tablet

Since the popular iPad hit the shelves, institutions from various industries have adopted it and used it as a replacement for regular pen and paper and even notebook computers. Its slim design and storage make it easier for users to download multiple books, apps and information without having to carry multiple devices or items. Simply put, the iPad is a perfect match for the busiest person, and it’s no different for students.

The tablet is now making its way into Asian schools, AFP is reporting. Here in the U.S., iPads have the ability to take students and teachers beyond standard education lessons from content creation, research accessibility and flexibility in supporting varied learning styles. It has multiple benefits, including a 10-inch screen that renders content well and has a nice large touch interface that students with motor skill issues can work with easily. Students can jump into an app quickly. Because the process is so fast, teachers don’t lose much instruction time.

In Asian countries, the iPad is replacing note pads – the pen and paper type – to make the life of students easier. The move is to support a paperless classroom.

According to AFP, a sample group of more than 120 students and 16 teachers were given iPads at Nanyang Girls’ High School in Singapore. By 2013, every student in the school will have one.

The iPad has been received well amongst students and administrators alike.

“I like the iPad because it is portable and we do not have to carry so many bags and files around,” said 13-year-old Nicole Ong, a student at Nanyang Girls’ High School.

“No longer is language learning solely based on the teacher commenting on students’ works – classmates can feedback on one another,” said Seah Hui Yong, curriculum dean of Nanyang.

With the iPad, teachers don’t have to worry about outlets, power cords or battery life. Because of the iPad’s functionality and availability of e-texts, apps, cloud computing and information sharing, institutional goals will eventually include the reduction of computers on campus and other devices such as LabQuests, SmartBoards and the required use of handheld graphing calculators, thereby reducing costs for many schools. The purchase of one iPad will also considerably decrease the cost of textbooks in the future.

The use of technology in the classroom, particularly that of the iPad received some criticism, as one professional feels it might get in the way of the real goal of education. Qiu Lin, an educational psychologist, feels technology use can be a distraction.

Overall, technology use in classrooms is still believed to be on the rise in the coming years for schools in Asia.

“The trend of integrating technology into education will definitely increase,” said the assistant professor at Nanyang Technological University, which is separate from the high school.

“But after one month when the novelty of iPads wears down, a good curriculum and teaching materials that can increase deep thinking and problem solving in students need to be in place.”

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Michelle Amodio is a TMCnet contributor. She has helped promote companies and groups in all industries, from technology to banking to professional roller derby. She holds a bachelor's degree in Writing from Endicott College and currently works in marketing, journalism, and public relations as a freelancer.

Edited by Jennifer Russell