Digital Technology in Literacy?
I just read an article about the benefits of integrating iPads into the classroom during literacy instruction. My school is still working on adding Smartboards to every classroom so we do not have any sort of hand held technological devices available for instruction. With that being said, I don’t know if I would use them if we did have them available.
After reading the article, I found some benefits to using a technological device in the classroom. It seems that the different apps available to an iPad would enhance student learning tremendously. The saying, “there is an app for that,” certainly applies to the classroom. They have developed numerous apps that allow students to organize information, to draw visualizations, and even to store books that they want to read in their very own classroom library. Finally, students who are reading at a much lower level than their peers could still read books at their level without being embarrassed by it. Since the books appear digitally, students will not know what books their peers are reading. It seems that using an iPad would help engage students who may otherwise dislike the reading block time.
On the other side, there are definitely some draw backs to using a technological device in the classroom. While it allows students who are reading a lower level book to hide it, it also prevents students from seeing what their peers are reading. A lot of books recommendations come through conversations students have with their peers based on books that are visible around the classroom. Since all books are hidden, students will not know what books their peers are reading. Also, the accountability piece is a big question. How can you be sure students are reading books on their level? It is easy for a teacher to survey a classroom in order to understand whether or not his/her students are reading books on their level, on a level that is below where they should be reading, or a level that is well above where they should be reading. When students are reading a book on an iPad, the teacher can’t be sure that the student is reading a good book unless he/she checks in with each student each day. Even then, students can easily change books without the teacher noticing. Finally, I hate to give up the task of choosing a book and reading a book. So much of the world is becoming technical and the craft of choosing an interesting book, reading a book, reading a newspaper, or doing research, is becoming lost. I feel that there is so much time for these students to use technological devices in their life so it is my duty to ensure they still have access (and use) books.
Has anyone had experience with iPads or other hand held technological devices in the classroom? What are your thoughts on the pros and cons of using them? Do you feel it is well worth the added instruction time spent on teaching students how to use the device?