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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 Eva Fernandes
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.