Australia’s State of Victoria is experimenting with an iPad pilot project; likely the first of many. Photo courtesy of Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.
The iPad is going to be very big in schools, predicts Professor Mark Warschauer, one of the world’s leading experts in technology and learning.
In an exclusive interview, Prof. Warschauer predicted that schools may soon start buying iPads in big numbers to replace not just desktops and laptops, but also textbooks and other reading materials.
“Until a couple of years ago, the majority of book reading — and a lot of magazine and newspaper reading — was done in print,” he said in a phone interview. “I think we’re going to see that change now.”
Warschauer, a professor in the Department of Education at the University of California, Irvine, is acknowledged as one of the leading academics studying technology’s effect on education. Recently he’s been studying the effects of 1-to-1 laptop programs in education, like Maine’s ambitious Learning Technology Initiative that gave iBooks and MacBooks to all middle-school students.
He said reading is likely to go digital very fast, and that many people will soon have two computing devices: a computer or laptop for writing, and a tablet for reading.
“For a lot of adults, they will have both a writing and a reading device,” he said. “They will have a laptop or a desktop, and an iPad or a Kindle or something.”
But schools can’t afford to give kids two machines. They will likely opt for the cheapest machine that can do double duty: the iPad.
“The laptop is great, but the iPad is potentially better in a lot of ways,” he said. “It’s a lot better for reading. It’s a lot more interactive with the touch screen. It’s lighter. It’s smaller. It’s got a 10 hour battery life. It costs a lot less than the cheapest Mac laptop, at least. There are certain disadvantages as well, but this is the first generation.”
Next year, when school districts free up some money in their budgets, we will see a lot of iPad pilot projects.
“There will be a lot of interest,” Warschauer said. “You can do a lot of the stuff you can do on laptops, but they are great for reading, especially as textbooks go into the digital realm.”