As a parent of a kindergartner and two preschoolers in Oak Park, I welcome the use of paperless communication between schools and parents but feel extremely uneasy about the unbridled use of tablet devices in the classroom. These devices are powerful tools that need to be introduced in limited contexts and are not always appropriate for elementary school.
I for one find it distasteful and inexcusable that our superintendent would attribute the use of iPads to children becoming “excellent communicators” and would further champion video projects to replace typed term papers — that “pecking out pages and pages” would not be a good use of time for the students. We should not avoid new teaching tools while demanding some fool-hardy return to slide-rules, but there is simply no solid research to suggest that elementary school children will become better learners simply by including the use of tablets in the classroom.
I wish that Supt. Roberts would not be so casual in conflating the use of iPads and other tools of technology with helping kids to “work collaboratively.” The use of iPads often works to pacify and obviates the need to communicate. One only has to look at how iPads are used to silence rowdy kids waiting at swim lessons or gymnastics classes.
I work as a university lecturer and find the adage to be true: Nothing spoils a presentation like PowerPoint. We may need to add the adage: Nothing taints rigorous academic content like tablets in the classroom.