My children started attending Dayton Grade School this past week and to my surprise my son’s class provides an iPad for every student. Even today with the proliferation of mobile technology, classrooms across the US run the full spectrum when it comes to technology. It was refreshing to see such a leap forward, and in a small rural district like Dayton, Oregon.
I spoke briefly with the principle Stephanie Ewing about the grant she wrote allowing for the creation of the technology program. The grant provides many supports including a halftime technology coach and a room available to the rest of the school equipped with iPads. Some of these children are very familiar with devices at home like iPads, netbooks, Android tablets, and Kindle Fires . They are reading ebooks, playing games and using apps as a normal part of their lives. Transferring these activities right into the classroom makes sense. For others it allows for much needed exposure to technology they would otherwise not have.
This Christmas will result in that gap decreasing with the introduction of entry level priced devices like the Kindle Fire and other quality tablets. Nielsen reported in 2010 only 3.5% of households owned an iPad. The Pew Internet and American Life Project reported this year that 1 in 10 households are reported to have some type of e-reader. As access to these learning tools increases, so will their relevance in our children’s school day.
What I am finding though, and this was confirmed by Ewing, is that while the hardware is remarkable, there is still a gap when it comes to software and content distribution. Apple limits how many devices can use an iBook or app license. Kindle’s policies are still written for the personal user and not for organization or educational use. How hard would it be for Apple to approve a similar policy as Home Share, where each title of iBook or app could be shared on five devices? Thirty devices would be optimal to match a typical class size.
I am sure that these problems will eventually be settled out just as public libraries continue to become more accustomed to and morph ways to integrate digital loans. How much better would it be if these issues were being faced with as much innovation and design as the hardware and software that delivers the content?
In the meantime as a parent I am glad my children have a seamless educational experience both at home and school, in play and education.
John Bergquist is the Director of Communications for Soma Games & Code-Monkeys, Huffington Post blogger. He is also an expert advisor for the George Fox Seminary Semiotics & Future Studies program. He is a company culture addict, artist, writer, speaker, blogger and app evangelist. He also gets to play video games for a living.