iPad: to be or not to be…

I’m asked to write a proposal, well may be a request, if I am interested in receiving an iPad for instructional purposes from my principal. First and foremost I must commend this very strategic protocol put in effect by her. Because one must have a sense of the purpose of a tool in order to use it effectively. You shouldn’t be given a toy that you wish you never had.

I feel teachers should definitely be consulted before introducing a new learning/teaching tool into the community especially if the use of that tool will be mandatory. And if not consulted prior to, then at least provided with thorough training on the tool. Thorough not in the teacher training sense, which amounts to anywhere from no training at all to a full half-day training session, but thorough in the real world sense where training is more like a full week.

In any case, it is great that these iPads have arrived and it’s greater that they are pushed out on the basis of teacher demand. Now the real issue here is whether or not I should request one. I must think about convincing ways I would use it for effective instruction if I would like one.

I’m really not sure if I want one though and I never thought hat I’d ever turn down an iPad! However, I’m glad that I haven’t simply asked for one because I really love apple products and I want one. This, at an introspective level, shows me how much I have grown as a teacher over the few years I’ve been privileged with the opportunity to teach. As a new teacher I used to think technology and money were what was missing in NY schools. But, I disagree now. Because of this realization, I ask myself now the same question my principal asks: how will I use it to enhance and improve my instruction? I’ve been thinking about it and I still don’t have an answer. May be it’s because there are valid reasons to why I shouldn’t request for an iPad.

I currently own a MacBook and an iPhone 4. I am a heavy user of both. In fact, it would be a big challenge for me if I had to teach without them. My iPhone is my voice recorder for kids who need directions repeated. For the non reader, I sometimes use the audio version of stories. My laptop has every tool I need to teach my way. Therefore, the question becomes: what can’t I do with the tools that I currently own that the iPad will enable me to do?

Argument for:
1. I can walk around with it taking notes on students. The large screen on the iPad gives it an edge over my iPhone and my marble composition notebook.
2. I can write reflections about my teaching practice while on the go with my iPad. This will help me plan a better lesson for the next day. I seldom get to annotate my own lessons on a daily basis. I can’t do this with my laptop because it’s plugged into the smart board with slides usually projected through it.
3. I can take pictures of student work and project them on the board right away for students to see and learn from.
4. I can give a dependent student the iPad and use my iPhone to FaceTime with him/her even when I can’t physically be at his/her desk to look at the work/answer questions – the future of student-teacher conferencing!
5. I can sync my MacBook materials with the iPad making them
More mobile/accessible/electronically annotatable – move to go green!

Argument against:
1. One more thing to carry on my long commute.
2. Many useful apps are for a price.
3. I can reflect and take notes in my notebook like I already do.
4. My iPhone does everything an iPad can do.
5. I’d be responsible for the iPad if it is lost or damaged.

Well, I feel the benefits outweigh the disadvantages, but only slightly. Will I be able to use the iPad to teach better, more effectively, and more efficiently? I don’t know.

But I do know this: there’s only one way to find out!

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