Mobile technologies are increasingly changing the way we live, work, play, and learn. They offer us new opportunities, opening new services and resources.
Today almost all K–12 schools, colleges, and universities build their education processes on the basis of eLearning ideas. And thanks to the development of mobile technologies, more and more institutions are also starting to adopt mLearning tools, iPads in particular.
Founding member of the Science Education Department at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Massachusetts Matthew Schneps recently told National Geographic, "Many educators are looking at the iPad as an inexpensive way to deliver content [and] to save money on textbooks, and a lot of apps are available that try to make learning into a kind of game."
In fact, many studies show that the use of iPad at educational institutions not only saves money, but also improves educational processes and changes pedagogical approaches.
Apple is the leader in the tablet market. The company has sold millions of devices since the iPad 1 release and the iPad is considered to be one of the best mobile gadgets in the world.
Apple has been developing the educational market for its iPad by collaborating with textbook publishers on instructional programs and sponsoring iPad workshops for administrators and teachers. Currently Apple offers more than 65,000 educational applications for the iPad, many of which are free. School representatives say that Apple is offering a standard 10 percent discount on the iPad for the educational institutions.
Tablets allow teaching and studying to go far beyond the traditional schemes. Learning and studying becomes collaborative, accessible, and integrated with the whole world beyond the classroom. Teachers and students choose iPad for learning thanks to its following characteristics:
- Learning on iPad is great for people on the go.
- People can get an access to the content anytime, anywhere.
- Use of tablet enhances the interaction between students and instructors.
- It enhances student-centered learning.
- Use of iPad is appealing to tech-savvy students thanks to the media-rich environment.
- mLearning reduces cultural and communication barriers between faculty and students by using communication channels that students like.
How does iPad shapes learning ideas?
In general, the use of gadgets results in significant changes in how teachers see their professional role as educators and changes their pedagogical approaches. These pedagogical shifts include:
- The educational process is becoming more collaboration-oriented;
- The students are encouraged to be more creative in their projects;
- Teachers are inclined to build a strong learning community;
- Educational process based on the use of iPad provides better support for students of all abilities;
- Students take responsibility for self-education;
- Teachers have the opportunity to give better feedback to students about their learning results.
Teachers are not transmitters of knowledge any more, they are becoming learning facilitators who create new, more personal, collaborative, and suitable learning pathways for students. Moreover, teachers look at the iPad not only as a teaching tool, but also as a learning tool for themselves.
Are there any problems?
However, despite all the advantages that the iPad brings to the educational sphere, there are many skeptics who are very concerned about the following questions:
- How will the teacher's role change?
- Do tablets and smartphone allow students to interact with other students and teachers at the same level and quality as if they were communicating in real life or when using a PC?
- Will it become easier for students to cheat during the tests? Will these tests be relevant to modern learning?
- What type of content is the best to transmit via mobile computing? What is not?
But still the iPad continues to penetrate and change the educational sphere.
Many school officials say they have been waiting for technology like the iPad for many years. As Alex Curtis, headmaster of the private Morristown-Beard School in New Jersey told the New York Times, “It has brought individual technology into the classroom without changing the classroom atmosphere."
However, many teachers also note that the success of mLearning depends not on the selection of the device, but on its right use by professional, supportive, and engaged teachers within the right educational program.