The Irish Independent reported recently that an anonymous donor had given a school in Fermoy, Co . Cork, a load of money to buy iPads for all the pupils and staff. The Independent states that it will be to replace textbooks and homework. The school’s principal, James O’Donoghue, hailed it as “a landmark day for Irish primary education.” I’m not so sure I agree.
It may end being a landmark day for all the wrong reasons when the boys and girls switch on their iPads for the first time and the school’s wifi goes down and Mr. O’Donoghue has to spend a few thousand more on a decent wifi infrastructure. Then you have the issue of when the teacher goes to plug her iPad into the projector and there’s another expense of getting Apple TV or some app to do the job. I won’t even go down the road of syncing all the devices to ensure the apps are consistent, which will require an Apple computer. I also won’t mention typing or Flash or any of the other things that Apple people say we no longer need but we do.
As you can probably tell by now, I don’t think the future of primary schools is iPads. I do however think some of the future is iPads but I also think the future has Android, Microsoft, Linux, Blackberry, etc. in them too. I believe the future is probably one where children will bring in their own devices whatever flavour they may be. I think that the time is coming that schools will stop funding hardware and children will be able to use their own devices to interact with lesson objectives. It won’t matter what device it is, because everything will be device agnostic.
Having said all that, if there is an anonymous donor out there who wants to give me 500 iPads, I won’t say no. I even have the wifi ready!