Changing my Tune: iPads Making Positive Dent in Schools

Carrie Schmelkin : Gossip from the Hallways
Carrie Schmelkin
Web Editor, TMC

Changing my Tune: iPads Making Positive Dent in Schools

My initial gut reaction when I hear the terms “iPads” and “school” together is: “What happened to good ol’ lectures on blackboards and scribbled notes in black composition books?” I mean, at a certain point isn’t too much technology in the schools, homes, workplace – insert anywhere – a bad thing?

But after seeing this video clip on ABC below, I have had a change of heart.

This video follows seven-year-old Zachary who was clinging to his life a year ago after he experienced a fluke bicycle accident that left him with a traumatic brain injury, a two-week coma, a four-month rehabilitation program and a learning disability he did not have before the accident.  Accordingly, he had to enroll at High Road Academy in Maryland, a school for children with learning disorders.

In part, the school is able to make magic happen by equipping each student with an iPad which helps students with speech and reading disabilities improve their literacy skills through interactive play, matching games and word recognition. High Road Academy is one of more than 40 primary schools that has introduced tablets to the classroom this year alone.

The iPad boasts applications including the Autism Timer, which offers a digital timer for students with autism; the Proloquo2Go, which offers picture-based communication for children with communication disorders; and iWriteWords, which encourages fine motor skills. The iPad has played a large part in helping Zachary cope with his learning disability so that he can work on a third grade level even though he’s only in second grade.

Aside from being fun, practical, efficient and highly relevant in the business force, iPads have now paved the way for a new form of education technology – that which can help students at all performance levels. So far, the iPad features more than 40 apps specifically designed for students with learning disabilities.

I am hardly a big proponent of iPads in schools, particularly since I am old fashioned in thinking that students should play outside during recess instead of purchasing new games in the app store and that they should learn how to take notes by hand (there goes that old-school journalist in me). However, I cannot refute the power of the iPad in helping kids with learning disabilities find their way in the daunting world of education.

As the daughter of a woman who has dedicated her life to helping children with learning disabilities as the head of a learning center in a middle school – and after hearing her recount day in and day out the trials these kids face every day – I feel that if a tablet can provide some saving grace for these kids, then bring in the iPads. In an age where Autism and Down’s Syndrome is at an all time high, any device that can help these kids in schools should not only be accepted but aggressively pursued.

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