Apple’s strong commitment to education has been seen time and again in the partnerships and programs they sponsor and the devices and machines they build. A recent research study conducted in Auburn, Maine has shown that “Kindergartner students using iPads scored better on literacy tests than students that didn’t use the device.”
The study followed 16 Kindergarten classes (129 students had the use of an iPad, while 137 students were taught without) as they put iPads to the test over 9 weeks of study. All 266 students were evaluated before and after the study with those using the iPad outperforming the others without question.
Sue Dorris, principal at East Auburn Community School feels that the motivation and interest inspired by the iPad helped reinforce the skills being taught by the apps. In addition, she commented that “the apps, which teach and reinforce fundamental literacy concepts and skills, are engaging, interactive and provide children with immediate feedback. What’s more, teachers can customize apps to match the instructional needs of each child, so students are able to learn successfully at their own level and pace.”
With the iPad as a trusted tool the challenge will be targeted at developers with a mandate to develop affordable, sustainable and customizable apps that children can learn from and enjoy and that teachers can adapt, extend and use for evaluation of skills.
These results do not surprise me. As the parent of a toddler I have had the privilege of watching her evolve using the iPad from hesitant and cautious tapping at things almost randomly to a confident and skilled user of the device. This skill combined with the thirst for knowledge that grips young children presents a unique opportunity for the iPad. At a time when teachers are overworked and classrooms are overpopulated, devices like the iPad may well serve as a form of personal tutor resulting in a value that cannot be calculated in dollars.