I know lots of people have mobile devices, and I know most of them wonder, “How did I ever live without this thing?” I have my iPad and I like it, too; it’s a great tool. Unfortunately, like other great tools, in the hands of the incompetent, it can be nothing more than an expensive toy, even a tool of destruction.
I have firsthand experience with this. Last year, my district deployed iPads to all certificated employees for use in their special and alternative education classes. We had full-day mandatory trainings. We provided access to some online training as well. For most people this level of training appears to have been enough to get them started on using their mobile technology effectively, but not everyone.
Most of the teachers are using their iPads for instruction of small groups, as assistive communication devices, or as individual reinforcement of prior learning. However, I’m still finding teachers who either lock the iPad away—they say they’re afraid the iPads are going to get broken—or they’re just using them for games to pacify students. In these cases, it would be better if the teachers didn’t have the iPads in first place. They’re either using them as crutches or not using them at all.
As you can guess, my point is: it’s not the quality of the technology that matters; it’s the quality of the teaching that counts. We are continuing to work with these teachers to help and encourage them make better use of the technology at their disposal.
My motto: never buy technology at the expense of effective teacher training. What do you think?