The Case of the Compulsory iPad


Decile-nine Orewa College has told parents the iPad 2 will be a compulsory stationery item for all year nine pupils next year.—Stuff

Except that’s not what they said. The letter (pdf) they sent out to parents says a one to one computing device will be required. They list the examples of laptops, netbooks, tablets or iPads.

The decision has been criticized because the college recommends the iPad over the other options and it costs a fair amount of money. The reasons for (pdf) favoring one device—the iPad are clear: teachers and students can support each other easily if they are all familiar with the device, the applications available are vast and battery life is long.

$799?!

One Laptop Per Child BhutanThe lowest priced netbook I could quickly find was one from Dick Smith at $375. Will a student be disadvantaged if they get a cheaper device instead, like a netbook?  I doubt it.

The content from most if not all educational applications in the Apple Application Store will be available somewhere on the Internet. Students will probably end up teaching the teacher how to use his or her iPad. Those without iPads be fine working out their device themselves and Googling solutions to issues as they come up—actually relevant problem solving? Devices with keyboards are arguably easier to type on compared to a device that only offers a touch screen. Issues with battery life won’t be a huge issue—I envision power boards to be plentiful.

iPad 3

How parents deal with updates to the iPad will be interesting to watch, but any update won’t damage the existing features of the iPad 2: strong battery life, large selection of applications and Wi-Fi access.

Usefulness

It has to be said that an iPad isn’t like other stationery. I don’t regularly pull out my compulsory $100 graphics calculator for fun-times around the dinner table. iPads are different. Sharing skills will be tested as everyone in the family wants to use it.

Controversy

What I find interesting is that the first letter is dated June 24th and discussion with parents was going on for 4+ weeks before then. The media are only reporting on this now. It seems like none of the parents involved have had a huge issue with it—no one went to the media straight away.

Orewa College is a decile-nine school, the second highest decile available to schools. It means students generally come from a high socio-economic background. The vast majority of parents won’t have a problem finding the money for a one to one device, and the school has provided options to spread the cost out—“We have enclosed information on purchasing options from Cyclone Computers, that are approximately $10 per week.”

There’s still time for parents to choose for their year eight students to attend a different high school. But it’s a slippery slope when that is the proposed solution to potential issues with a child’s local school and is reminiscent of Brown v. Board.

Congratulations Orewa College for moving forward. Let’s hope that future schools won’t have to go through this when they choose to make one to one devices compulsory.

Image credit: Laihiuyeung Ryanne

3 thoughts on “The Case of the Compulsory iPad

  1. yeah…agree with everyone and everything that has been said. However, I have seen first hand cities and counties in Los Angeles who have made the effort and and taken on the whole Ipad 2 issue. A point of note is that they come from a far bigger scope of both poverty and gang threat of violence and intimidation (including guns).
    Apple will have a far bigger share in the future computer market world wide and it would take a bold (or ignorant) individual to turn their back on what is coming hardware and software-wise, hence the push for Apple rather than a more affordable alternative. I have seen schools that have taken this path in the US where ‘ALL’ school texts, documents, e-learning is taken care of with a device like that. I am considered below average income earner and would struggle to find $ for one of my children, let alone 2 more of my high school age. However, after seeing the benefits of having IPad 2s in schools I would make the effort to try to get at least one for my kids. I would prefer to focus on the benefits rather than the negatives. I hope that the community of Orewa would allow this to go ahead and the rest of NZ could see for themselves. A forward-thinking or money governed Principal. Only time could tell; but for me-a definate visionary principal.

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