It appears iPads may be showing up in a kindergarten classroom near you. The New York Times reports a growing number of schools across the country are embracing the iPad as a new tool to enhance classroom learning.
The Times interviewed several New York area teachers who lauded the electronic tablet for its ease of use, light weight and ability to capture student interest. The iPads cost an average of $750 apiece and, according to the New York Times, may replace textbooks, allow students to communicate with teachers, and preserve a digital record of a student's portfolio.
Educators are still divided over whether initiatives to give every student a laptop have made any difference in academic performance. The Times said some parents and scholars are raising concerns that schools are rushing the investment in iPads before there is any hard research that shows the device improves student achievement.
"There is very little evidence that kids learn more, faster or better using these machines," Stanford University professor emeritus Larry Cuban told the New York Times. He believes the money would be better spent recruiting, training and trying to retain teachers.
The New York City public schools have ordered more than 2,000 iPads, for $1.3 million and more than 200 Chicago public schools applied for 23 district-financed iPad grants totaling $450,000. The Virginia Department of Education is overseeing a $150,000 iPad initiative that has replaced history and Advanced Placement biology textbooks at 11 schools, according to the New York Times article.
Even kindergartners are getting their hands on iPads. Pinnacle Peak School in Scottsdale, Ariz., converted an empty classroom into a lab with 36 iPads -- named the iMaginarium -- that has become the centerpiece of the school because, as the principal told the New York Times, "of all the devices out there, the iPad has the most star power with kids."