In the quest to keep up with current technology, many educational institutions look for ways to incorporate technology into the classroom or into professional development for educators. Education Scotland, the government agency that is responsible for supporting the Scottish educational system, is conducting preliminary research regarding the use of tablet computers and other mobile devices in the classroom with the idea to incorporate the use of iPads in their classrooms on a widespread scale.
Currently about 20 Scottish schools and 10 local authorities use iPads and Andriod devices to supplement classroom learning and support technological advancements in education. Education Scotland plans to take a look at how these schools are using these devices and what kinds of outcomes they have experienced through their usage. The data will be analyzed by Education Scotland and recommendations regarding the use of this technology will be presented to Education Secretary Michael Russell. Mr. Russell is quoted as saying, “The range of mobile devices that are now available and the promise of what they can bring to teaching and learning is very exciting and something that must be embraced. There are a number of pilots already under way around the country, including the use of iPads here at Sciennes [Sciennes is a Primary School in Edinburgh]. I have asked Education Scotland for recommendations on how we can realize the benefits of mobile technology for all learners in Scotland, including ensuring how we get the best possible value for our schools, and whether national guidance is needed for the sector.”
Education Scotland, of course, is not the first agency to be looking into iPad or mobile technology use in the classroom. Several schools around the world have implemented classroom programs that make use of the iPad. Longfield Academy in Kent, United Kingdom reportedly had their 1400 students begin using iPad 2s in the classroom starting in the Fall of 2011. The iPads used contained Longfield Academy’s entire curriculum for the school year. Four schools in Singapore also rolled out an iPad program last year Nanyang Girls (a secondary school), Tampines Secondary School, Nanhua Primary School, and Dunman Secondary School. These iPads apparently replaced all textbooks and course materials. Both students and teachers alike were pleased with the ease and convenience of using a tablet over traditional course textbooks and worksheets, etc. Lake Minneola High School in Florida, United States purchased iPads for its students to use both in the classroom and at home. The school expected the iPads to serve many valuable functions for the students such as acting as their textbooks, note taking device, calendar, and Internet access.
How each school or educational agency handles the financial aspect of their iPad implementation is different. Some schools have the resources to pay for the iPads and related costs (protective covers, technical support, insurance) themselves, while other schools request that parents or caregivers pick up the tab for the iPad if they want their student to participate in the programs using an iPad. Other schools fall somewhere in the middle, requiring a small fee from families of students who will be using the iPads . However financed, it sounds like Scottish Education Secretary Michael Russell finds value in resources dedicated to technology as he states: “I want to drive forward a culture change in Scottish education and ensure new technologies can be embedded into learning.”