With its compact size and convenient features, the iPad might seem like an ideal classroom tool. Since it was released in 2010, teachers have tested the iPad in different educational capacities. Although it has many benefits, the iPad also presents several drawbacks that can negatively affect the classroom experience.
Price is one of the biggest disadvantages of using the iPad in education. In March of 2013, the 16GB iPad had a starting cost of $499. In an educational setting, however, students might need additional memory to store notes, digital textbooks and instructional videos. The iPad with the largest memory has a capacity of 128GB and a starting cost of $799. For schools working with limited budgets, it may be difficult to justify purchasing enough iPads to make a significant impact in the classroom.
The iPad comes with a number of standard apps, including a high-definition camera, photo gallery, calendar, map, and an instant messaging client. Even without Internet access, students can use many of these apps. What's more, it's impossible to remove these built-in apps. In a K-12 setting, these programs might present a significant distraction for students.
The iPad is not good at multi-tasking, which can be a problem in a classroom. Students can't use the device to read a passage and take notes on it at the same time; instead, they must switch between apps. The built-in keyboard is easy to use for writing short passages, but when it comes to writing papers or taking copious notes, the iPad is not as convenient or comfortable as a pencil and paper.
Although there are numerous educational apps available for the iPad, many require an Internet connection. When a classroom full of students accesses the Internet at the same time, slower speeds, interrupted service and loading delays can result, causing students to have difficulty staying focused on the task at hand. For teachers, preventing students from misusing Internet access by playing games, checking email and going online is a challenge.
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