What Can an iPad Do That a Laptop Can’t?

Posted by Elvina Tong
Two school years ago, kindergarten began using 1:1 iPads in the classroom, with one Grade 1 class piloting 1:1. The following year, Grade 1 went fully 1:1 iPad and had done away with their laptops. This past spring, Grade 2 also moved to a 1:1 iPad model. And now, Grades 3 and 4 are looking at the pros and cons of making the switch as well. In addition, these year, we have 78 iPads in the middle/high school library for those teachers to borrow on a project basis.
Middle and high school teachers, you may be wondering, if my students already have a laptop, why would I need to borrow iPads? What can an iPad do that a laptop can’t? Isn’t it easier to type on a keyboard? Great questions.
I’m not going to pretend that there is a whole lot the iPad can do that a laptop can’t do. But the iPad does it so much more effortlessly. Contrary to what we adults use our tablets and smartphones for, there are actually lots of ways students can use iPads to create content seamlessly, quickly and without too much of a learning curve.
Creation vs. Consumption

Telling a story with the story mountain and ShowMe app.
Telling a story with the story mountain and ShowMe app.

You might have heard or read about students using technology for creation rather than consumption. The idea is to use technology to create – be it through images, audio, video. I would also add that the power to make their work public, shareable and partake in peer review makes the creation process meaningful. Consumption is when we are simply reading or watching on our screens. In a matter of minutes, a student can use an iPad to take photos and video, combine it into one movie and narrate it with text and music, then share it with others in another city or country. I’m not talking about making award winning masterpieces, but the possibility to create and share in the moment. We all know there are millions of apps for iPads and lots more developed every day. I think, however, the real power of teaching and learning with an iPad isn’t through digital worksheet apps but finding a few core ones that allow students to create content.
It’s part of their environment…

Not too young...
Not too young…

One afternoon, I was walking across the playground to return to my classroom. I stopped to watch a pre-schooler take photos with a point and shoot camera. Her teacher suggested that she show me her pictures. She started to swipe the display of the point and shoot camera. It did not have touch capability. Her teacher and I laughed privately. This happened five years ago. The iPad is only five years old but we are now working with a generation of students who don’t remember life without touch technology. To them, touch is not even technology, it’s part of their environment and how they live, interact and learn. The iPad doesn’t replace the laptop, it enhances it. We are fortunate enough to have both for our students. And don’t forget, it’s not about the technology, tools or apps, it’s how they are used. Let’s unlock the power of synthesizing these tools to allow our students to become creators rather than consumers. I for one can’t wait to see what they produce.
Kathy Schrock’s iPads4Teaching http://www.ipads4teaching.net/ 
Langwitches Blog http://langwitches.org/blog/
iPads in Schools LiveBinder http://www.livebinders.com/play/play_or_edit?id=26195
Ning http://ipadeducators.ning.com/

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