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Apple's iPads are the latest cool technology craze. You are starting to see them in various places, including in the hands of 10-year-olds.
In Loveland, Col., the Thompson School District has undertaken a pilot project to try the touch screen tablet computers in classrooms. Twenty-three students, including fourth graders at Berthoud Elementary School, are among the kids getting first crack at the new technology.
"They're really fun to use, and they're a lot faster," Ashlee Burdette, 10, was quoted as saying in a May 11 Loveland Reporter-Herald newspaper article. "It's actually learning, but you have lots and lots of fun."
Classrooms have been the home of computers before – even portable ones. In the mid-to-late 1990s, the University of Minnesota-Crookston purchased laptops for all of their students and faculty. In the summer of 2004, Mayville State University in North Dakota became the first tablet PC university, with all students and faculty receiving one.
Will the iPad become a standard component of classrooms in the future? Berthoud teacher Tiffany Kile sees great potential in the devices so far. Her class has used the iPads, paid for through curriculum funds, to compose poems, make graphs and learn vocabulary.
At the high school level, teachers and advanced placement students at Santa Cruz, Calif.'s Monte Vista Christian School are making use of several iPad applications in the classroom. In English teacher Marcus Schwager's class, students just click to find out the meaning and pronunciation of unknown words in the Shakespeare's "The Tempest." Elsewhere, Cynthia Armstrong's science class has zoomed in for a closer look at a cutaway of the human body, according to an April 20 Santa Cruz Sentinel story. The SoundPaper application even lets students record lectures.
"There are many academic advantages," Monte Vista headmaster Stephen Sharp said. "They provide new access to photos, video, daily newspapers and resource material that enhance the curriculum."
Monte Vista Christian School brought in 60 16GB iPads for a pilot project. The machines cost about $500 each, but Apple gave a $50 school discount. Where there could be a cost savings is in the purchase of textbooks. More electronic textbooks are coming out and they are about a third of the cost of paper versions, according to the Sentinel.
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