updated 10:40 am EST, Wed January 5, 2011
Part of national trend
The New York City public school system has ordered over 2,000 iPads, the New York Times reveals. The total cost of the arrangement is valued at $1.3 million. As an example of the distribution, 300 of the tablets are reported to have gone to Kingsbridge International High School, located in the Bronx. The Times suggests that the number is "enough for all 23 teachers and half of the students to use at the same time."
A number of school districts around the US are said to be dipping their toes into iPads, including ones in Chicago, Illinois, Scottsdale, Arizona and the Californian cities of San Francisco, Fresno, Long Beach and Riverside. Despite the often tight budget constraints imposed on public schools, some teachers argue that the iPad serves as a multifunction teaching tool, and/or that it draws the attention of students. In some cases it may handle many of the mundane aspects of schooling, such as contacting teachers, turning in assignments, storing past work and providing access to textbooks.
Critics charge that the iPad may be a costly fad. "There is very little evidence that kids learn more, faster or better by using these machines," says Larry Cuban, a professor emeritus of education at Stanford University. "iPads are marvelous tools to engage kids, but then the novelty wears off and you get into hard-core issues of teaching and learning." Professors at other universities note that schools may save money by opting for smartphones, which can offer a lot of the same benefits as the iPad for less than the latter's minimum $499.