Is the Ipad good for education?

After reading a firsthand account from a teacher extolling the virtues of the ipad in a classroom (found *here*), it’s hard to say that Ipads do not have a place in our schools. For students that find little to no appeal in traditional classrooms, such a device offers unparrallelled ability to pull them back into learning. Having something instantly interact with you in a meaningful fashion (rather than ignoring you or prioritizing something else) is very rewarding to many learners. For many students (especially those who respond well to the format), Ipads will transform their educational experience as they become more and more exposed to them.

We can’t ignore the potential danger in promoting this kind of surrogate teaching. If a child learns only from an electronic resource, they may not develop the communication skills they’d need to ask another person a question correctly, or have any incentive to do so (their first instinct would always be to refer to the Ipad or similar device rather than to ask someone– in most cases this is not a problem, but some questions can’t be asked of a tablet and answered in a rewarding fashion).

The gains are immediately noticeable, but the detrimental effects may take decades to appear. That must be considered to some extent when we change the way we interact with our children.

This is related to what is considered to be the “Gamification” of learning (and reality with such products as Google Glass). Essentially, through game mechanics designed to “reward” the user with upgrades, achievement points, badges or what-have-you, programs trick users into learning (or at least memorizing).

Is this kind of learning effective in the long term? Is it literally proving that learning is NOT its own reward? Does it remove incentive from learning anything that doesn’t offer some kind of extrinsic “points”?

Here is an article related to gamifying our education. Food for thought.


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