Response: 8 Mistakes Made with iPads in Schools

On Dec 26, 2013 Teachers With Apps (@TeachersApps) posted 8 frequent mistakes made with iPads in schools. The next day Tina Barseghian (@MindShiftKQED) Tweeted the link with the following questions appended: Do you agree? Should others be on this list?

Several months later and a day or two after the item is back in the Twitter-verse, I’m going to respond to Barseghian’s questions.

The mistakes cited in the original article are:

  1. Underestimate the power of the iPad
  2. Neglect to make real world connections
  3. The iPad alone will not help kids think deeply
  4. Treating the iPad like a computer
  5. Not taking advantage of the mobility of the device
  6. Sharing iPads between classes
  7. Resistance to change
  8. Overuse of ebooks

Each point is accompanied by a thoughtful, yet brief explanation.  The list above shouldn’t be considered on its own – the entire article should be read.

To answer Tina Barseghian’s questions:

Yes, I agree that these are 8 significant and frequent mistakes made with iPad in schools and yes, I think there is at least one other – and in my personal opinion – very important mistake that’s been left off the list.

In my position as a Technology Integration Specialist with a large school board in Eastern Canada, I’ve had school principals contact me many times saying something similar to, “We’ve just bought 10 (or 20, or 30) iPads but no one knows what to do with them. Come show us.”  A slight variation on this request is sometimes stated as, “We recently bought 2 iPad carts and the teachers started to use them in their classes, but they won’t work and now the teachers don’t want to use them any more. Come tell us what we’re doing wrong.”

Both of these requests are examples of a ninth frequent (unfortunately) mistake made with iPads in schools and that is lack of research, planning and preparation before making the purchase.  Recovery from the first situation is relatively easy and includes some time discussing what iPads are and are not, what they will do, suggesting some strategies for use in the classroom and giving some examples of apps and activities.  From there, teachers will often explore and pursue the use of the iPad on their own. The second situation is more difficult.  Damage has been done in these cases, teachers have become frustrated because they were expecting something different, something more like a computer.  Of course, these beliefs have to be undone, then there needs to be rebuilding done but that’s often difficult because, due to poor planning, teachers have developed a negativity toward the devices.

While this ninth mistake is closely related to both numbers 4 and 7 it definately stands on its own.  Before any decision to purchase is made school and/or district administrators and IT managers need to discuss the advantages AND limitations of the iPad in the classroom.  It’s also important for teachers to be part of this discussion in its early stages.  In an ideal world there should be preliminary PD offered to teachers (though in the real world where funds are limited, this often doesn’t happen).  During this research and planning time, administrators can get a good understanding of how the devices will enhance their classrooms and will be able to speak to those questions when they come from parents and other members of the community.

The iPad is a great device for the classroom, but it can be a costly mistake if it’s deployed without the right forethought and discussion with those who will be expected to use it.

Update: Thank you to Teachers With Apps for including my thoughts as their #9! Very cool.