Monday, February 10, 2014

CCSD's $9 Million iPad Fizzle

It's just other people's money.

No doubt iPads are fun to use and entertaining for students. Yet the Charleston County School District cannot claim that having an iPad for every student in three of its schools made a dent on improving test scores. Superintendent McGinley is still scratching her head trying to put the best face on mediocre results.

Board member Chris Fraser fecklessly stated that the technology needs more than a year to work, even though Haut Gap Middle has had one for every student for three years. Pay attention, Chris.

Technology is not the answer; it's just that simple. No doubt people raved about the first blackboard raised in a classroom and the first overhead projector. Computers were going to do it, too. We can all wonder when the next technological marvel will come down the pike and how many millions more it will cost.
However, one observer does have a point about iPad use:
"Before spending another penny, one education advocate said the district needs to look at why this investment hasn't translated into better test scores. Jon Butzon, former leader of the Charleston Education Network, said he thought a lack of staff training and technology support were to blame.
"It didn't produce the results, and we need to know why," he said.

Although the school board will decide what happens next, the mostly glowing report likely won't result in more schools getting iPads immediately.
[Lainie] Berry said giving an entire school iPads isn't the best way to ensure that they are used effectively. Before that, teachers need to be trained, model classrooms need to be established, and the school needs to build some capacity to use them, she said.
"We're highly aware that schools are clamoring for the iPads and want to do this," Berry said. "It's a fine line to walk. We want to get the technology out there, but we've got to move slowly and we can't rush into this. We have to do this right and now just let everyone move forward as fast as they want."
Was this $9 million well spent?


Anonymous said...

The bottom line is that this is how students learn. And while there is no substitute for the highly effective classroom teacher, technology, and the meaningful engagement of students in this technology, simply is how they learn. To deny this is to put one's head in the sand.

Anonymous said...

Technology is not a silver bullet. If the students are prepared, it's certainly a nice addition to a teachers toolbox. If used wisely I think iPads are certainly a great addition to any classroom. If you look at the schools that got the iPads they are all Title I schools where a lot of the students struggle with basic skills. A lot of the kids today are sloppy, undisciplined thinkers. If iPads help them address those issues fine but in the meantime, teach them the basics, teach them to think critically, then give them the technology.

Clisby said...

I don't know whether it's still going on, but a couple of years ago Charleston Catholic was one school that got a grant to provide IPads to middle-schoolers. Some of the benefits were that lessons could be loaded on the IPads, meaning the kids didn't have to lug home a backbreaking set of books. Teachers could load PowerPoint presentations of the next day's lessons, so the kids could review ahead of time what would be discussed. I can see real advantages to something like that - but of course, it all depends on how they're used.