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The cost of technology in the classroom?

The cost of technology in the classroom?

Does allowing children to bring in their iPads and iPhones into school place an unreal pressure on parent’s pockets?

November 20, 2011 5:15 by

Barely two months ago, I wrote an article titled “iPads in the classroom—naughty or nice?” The article was spurred on by an announcement from the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) concerning the launch of their New School Model. The iClass initiative saw students in grades three and four at eight government schools in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Garbia use iPads and laptops on a regular basis—the iPads came replete with Arabic-language apps loaded by ADEC. A terrific move, I concluded but not necessarily one guaranteeing educational benefits—after all it’s the message, not the medium that matters. And if public school records were anything to go by, it would appear the message isn’t really getting across successfully.

Reading a few comments from Philip Redhead, the principal of another school that has embraced technology, has caused me to think about another aspect of the trouble of bringing technology into the classrooms of the UAE.

Philip Redhead is the headmaster of the UK-curriculum based primary school GEMS Royal Dubai School—the average classroom in the school has an electronic whiteboard, toys and some iPads, iPods and iPhones. Emirates 24/7 notes that: “Philip would not ask parents to purchase the high-tech applications the children are using in the school, but also does not need to. Nowadays most children have iPads, which they are more than happy to take to school, he says.

… “It was my son’s biggest birthday wish, so when he turned seven last week, we got him an iPad, says Farhana Hamicon (35) from Sri Lanka.”

Allowing children to bring their own iPhones and iPads to school is a great way to ensure the kids are interacting with technology on a personal level; but it also does put an unreal expectation on the pockets of parents. Whatever headmaster Redhead may say, kids will be kids and it is only natural for children to give into peer pressure or to want to save face in front of their classmates. Let us not forget that in addition to the cost of the iPad (one can set a parent back almost Dh3K) there are also additional costs like downloading apps… a dollar here, a dollar there can really add up to a whole lot of money.

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  1. Sunil on November 21, 2011 10:45 am

    It is seems ages now. During my time it was the calculator which was new invention. Everyone could not afford it. Therefore it was a question was it fair that the selected few were able to afford it. The outcome which that they were not allowed.

    It is important that the students are able to do without it and manage. But what is very important is that we cannot shun technology. What needs to be done is to make cut down versions for Education. So these tools can be used by students and to make their work better and will give them access to newer technology.

    We cannot stop growth in technology and therefore no reason to delay the whole process

  2. Richard Mehrer on November 21, 2011 6:30 pm

    Hello Eva:
    Just a quick suggestion: go to a source to obtain your information. As with many, you seem to be relying on other press for your statements and opinions.
    This is how rumors begin and spread.
    I am the Program Manager for the iClass Program at ADEC.
    You have made several erroneous statements and assumptions:
    1. ADEC is not using iPads exclusively
    2. The cost of the more typical Win 7 tablets is much closer to 1/3 of the cost of an iPad
    3. Most applications for primary students are written with Flash which is not available with iPads
    4. Students’ families may not be required to purchase the Digital Tool that their students use
    5. You have not painted an accurate picture of what a 21st century rich learning environment looks like – students classroom tools is far from the whole story
    6. The availability of Tablets and PC’s in the homes of the UAE is one of the highest in the world
    7. Children are far more adept at using Digital Tools than most adults
    8. Finally, you may have noticed – the world has turned digital and I will only speculate of course, and I doubt the trend will be reversed any time soon.

    So perhaps using a rich digitally enhanced student centered teaching system will more fully engage students in their acquisition and use of the information that is available to them, and incidentally to their parents.

    Just food for your thinking.


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