iAchieve: Putting Technology in the Hands of Children

Fort Bend ISD's Ridgemont Elementary School has leaped forward into the future in its science classes, equipping their students with iPads in the classroom and having them permanently put away their previous bulky textbooks. The children are understandably enthused.

"It's awesome," said 10-year-old Chandler Hampton, two weeks into the school's foray into digital learning.

"It's like the future," added Christopher Ayala, also 10, as his hands swept across the iPad screen and sketched out a fire-engine-red warm front. "It's like something kids will be doing in the future."

The mobile devices have some obvious benefits for some subjects as children can now interactively explore topics such weather systems, planetary movement, and even history. The three low-income area serving schools in the Fort Bend area equipping their students with iPads are taking part in iAchieve, an initiative aiming to create an e-curriculum:

Instead of simply distributing iPads to students and using educational apps already on the market, Fort Bend officials are building a platform that links on-demand lesson plans, curriculum guidelines, online resources, real-time assessments, interactive simulations, and suggested teaching strategies

Of course not everybody is as enthusiastic about the digital revolution as the ten year olds at Fort Bend. Some schools have already invested in physical textbooks are unwilling to invest in technology until these books fall apart. Some don't see the investment as worthwhile, and others are skeptical about the overall benefits of an iPad education, fearing that it distracts children far more that it aids their study.

A Canadian teachers union has taken a health-based approach to its opposition although how grounded this is in actual science is somewhat debatable.

The uptake of iPads for classrooms is increasing as more and more schools invest their technology budget in the mobile devices. Apple is also looking to expand on this in-class iPad revolution to steal the textbook market away from traditional publishers and sees a future of digital textbooks all accessed from the same mobile device.

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