In terms of participation and proper education, incorporating technology into the classroom environment will significantly benefit both students and teachers. Early childhood classroom integration of iPad devices has become a common trend that encourages teachers to use iPads in preschool and kindergarten classrooms to motivate students to learn. Many Australian schools have already successfully implemented the program, with many more to follow. However, the initiative faces a few technical problems and pitfalls that must be resolved. The government and school administration should overcome these obstacles and reap the benefits of technological advancements. Introduction
The challenge in presenting study as a fun and positive experience to children is high and the successful overcoming of the challenge is critical to the process of student engagement in classroom. Technology may play a major role in making classroom environment attractive and enhancing student interactions although many sides of technology is not favourable for the development and proper rearing of children. As a means of exploiting positive impacts of technology on students, many schools of Australia have started the iPad initiative, in which each student is assigned with an iPad for learning their classroom lessons and making their interactions through iPads in their early childhood. The strategy was first introduced in 19 Western Australian government primary schools in 2012 to achieve two key reforms including “effective and evidence-based teaching of literacy and numeracy with the integration of iPad devices” and “strong school leadership and whole-school engagement with literacy and numeracy through the integration of iPad devices” (Early Childhood iPad Initiative, 2014). The visible improvement in the engagement and development of students in primary schools call for nationwide adoption of the technology and formulation of education policy to create guidelines for teachers and parents of the students about the safe use of the technology for the betterment of learning. Since technologies always come with pitfalls, iPad initiative is not free from adverse side-effects, certainly. This paper will discuss several factors pertinent to the debate: whether iPad should be taken nationwide or restricted in early childhood. Further, it will recommend a strong suggestion to the board based on the researches and discussions.
Benefits Of iPads In Early Childhood Classrooms
Introduction of iPads in early classroom has numerous benefits starting from student engagement to the bringing students to classroom. Several key benefits are listed below:
– Improvement learning outcomes in the learning of literacy and numeracy,
– Increased self-initiated and independent learning among students,
– Increased active participation and interactions in classroom,
– Increased motivation to staying in classroom and learning,
– Improved learning outcome in disinterested and special needs children,
– Increased monitoring on students and tracking of their performance through minimally intrusive tools,
– Increased opportunities for teachers to evaluate individual students and plan for improvement,
– Expansion of classroom beyond school boundary,
– Improved engagement of parents in student’s learning and strength of school-to-home relationship,
– Improved environment for student assessments by using applications that are capable of measuring student’s performance and send them to teachers’ devices for evaluation. It can help students feel relaxed and perform naturally in their assessments,
– Increased cognitive ability and smooth experience with using technology (Professor, 2017)
– Ubiquitous learning platform; with the use of cloud computing technology, students and teachers can share resources from the Internet storage from anywhere of the world. This changes the traditional classroom concepts from a limited bound space to the open and physically unlimited space around the world. Anybody from anywhere can access learning resources and teaching materials with sufficient access privileges,
– Reduced disparity in learning and children admission.
– Reduced cost of education. With the help of computing technology and animation techniques, the need for props, books and models goes down. iPads are cheaper than computers, laptops and other devices used in classroom and saves revenues.
Shortcoming of Using iPads In Early Childhood Classroom
– Diversion is high. Student might end up in using iPads for entertainment purpose rather than for learning.
– Agile students might cause damage to iPads given to them and may cause injury.
– Use of iPads and other mobile and computing devices for long can be detrimental to children’s health. Sometimes it can take tolls on child’s physical and mental growth (Salon, 2016). Poor eyesight, reduced social capabilities and increased mental disorder can be caused by excessive device screen-time spent by children using iPads (Dunckley, 2015).
– Overuse can lead to addiction or attention deficiency syndrome (Kardaras, 2016).
– Use of iPads in classroom can kill social capabilities of individual and make them conservative as well as introvert due to the absence of communication between classmates. Interactions between classmates is likely to be reduced in an iPad enhanced classroom and children will have no time to develop social skills and communicative competence as well as learn cultural norms and values (Walters, 2015).
Challenges in Implementing iPad based Classroom in Early Childhood Classroom
Implementation of iPad based learning environment is not as easy as it seems. Numerous technical and strategic challenges are involved, which can slow down overall acceptance of the technology as well as achievement of the desired results. Of them, the most impending challenge is the technical difficulties involved in setting up and maintenance of technical infrastructure required to implement iPad based classroom (Early Childhood iPad Initiative, 2014). To exploit the advantage of iPad based classroom environment, a secured and reliable Internet connectivity is essential, which is very hard to find in remote parts of the country.
Lack of proper knowledge of instructors and teachers about mobile devices and its applications can be a major challenge to the implementation of the initiative. Without a good skill in using the device, teachers will not be able to guide their students and continue to thrive in a dynamic learning environment that demands for adoption to ever changing technology.
Development and selection of right learning application is crucial to the success of the initiative. Identification of duplicate learning resources in order to prevent reiteration on same topic, using a structured and well-planned lesson plan, and helping student quickly grasp the idea of operating devices can be challenging at the beginning.
The cost of implementation is high. The average price of an iPad is $300 with some discounts for large-scale purchase for institutes (Aple, 2017). The price is too high for many public and private schools unless government supports financially.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The benefits and opportunities of the integration of iPad in early classroom are limitless and offer intangible advantages that can contribute to the overall education and social standard of the nation. Use of pooled resources can be economical because of increased students per iPad ratio. The current improvements and benefits offered by the technology is satisfactory and it is right time for the policymakers and government authority to take the project to farthest and underprivileged areas of the country, where children have less access to quality teachers and learning materials. The government needs to initiate widespread programs for the distribution, sharing and implementation of the iPad initiative among children of the country. Through the use of iPad and distributed learning model, students from the remote part of the country will have the access to high-quality learning materials from advanced schools.
Use of parental controls can be a good idea for the teachers and parents to prevent children accessing unnecessary applications, sites and contents that might have negative impact on them. Through constant monitoring, training and using filtering option in applications, children can be restricted from visiting inappropriate contents. A careful planning on the iPad time is essential to keep children from developing any physical or mental health problems as well as addiction.
The government needs to take special project to finance, administer and monitor the entire initiative at mass scale to measure, assess and modify processes and activities to streamline the goal of education with the technological intervention. Many schools lack resources and staffs to take the initiative into their primary operation. Government needs to identify them and provide special technical and administrative support to start the initiative.
Continuation of the initiative to the later stages of education is a matter of policy making that requires proper assessment and decision-making. Government may constantly evaluate the progress and benefits of current approach and use the data to forecast the success of taking the initiative further. It is customary to believe that children who will use iPads for learning in their early childhood, will likely to develop cognitive abilities and processing skills much aligned with computing and mobile based learning. Therefore, to continue to exploit the enhanced learning skills that will be rooted in early childhood of these children, government needs to take comprehensive plans to take the iPad learning initiative to later stages of schools.
Finally, to mitigate the adverse physical and mental health effects of the use of iPads in early childhood classroom, school management needs to take precautionary actions like mandatory health check, constant surveillance on children to check for excessive screen-time, planning the school schedule with adequate guard time between iPad uses and a balance between device-based learning and traditional book-pen based learning. The government needs to formulate education policy that will constantly monitor schools for these facilities and take necessary actions in case of any anomalies against the best interest of the children.
From above discussion, it is obvious that iPad integration to primary learning program is beneficial for student engagement. However, there few technical challenges and disadvantages of the initiative, which can be resolved through proper administration and careful planning. Government should play the role of administrator and coordinator in widespread application of the project. In future, technology will lead all spheres of human life, where education will not be an exception. Taking the initiative of integrating iPad device to early childhood classroom is a step forward to it.
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