In the last decades we have experienced rapid technology development especially in terms of computers and all its related devices. As a result of that people started to use more iPads to read their favorite literature pieces and the necessity of having a smartphone has reached its peak making us literally dependent of its use. Children and youngsters are mostly affected by the dependence of high-tech gadgets as they are everywhere in the schools and at home.
Schools have also introduced them in their educational process believing that is the way how children and the young population can easily gain their knowledge.
On the other hand, a large number of scientists and doctors warn about their overuse and the negative effects of the digital era.
This warning reached the Reddam House Private School, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, that banned the use of iPads and turned to the old fashioned way of learning, textbooks.This decision was not forced upon the students, in fact, the students themselves complaint that they could not effectively study by using iPads.
The school has introduced these high-tech devices five years ago, but it turned out that their use did not improve the technology skills of the students and instead of that impeded their learning process. The principal of this school, Dave Pitcairn, stated that the students preferred more the real pages than the blue screen. The reason for that was that they were constantly distracted by messages and other alerts popping up on screens. He also stated that the students learnt better as they have been using more senses in their designated research and were actually reading more and at the same time developed the ability of taking notes.
In addition to that, students reported better learning when searching through a hard copy allowing them to do a better research and take notes.
This school did not completely replaced real textbooks with the digital devices, but in fact used hard copies for the years 11 and 12. The students who got to year 11 chose the hard copy as then they could see the difference and instead of the digital device they preferred the hard copy. They just realized that the studying is more effective when reading from a hard copy textbook than from an iPad.
Pros and Cons of Using iPads in Schools
In 2010 iPads were introduced in schools and adopted into classrooms in the years to come. The use of these devices brought some positive effects in the process of learning, and as a result of that many studies have been conducted on the pros and cons of the use of iPads and textbooks.
In a comprehensive Canadian research involving 6,000 students who regularly used iPads every day for learning revealed all the pros and cons of their use.
Thanks to the iPads the students could easily access the information they needed which made them more motivated, however that resulted in poor writing skills and less focus while classes. It was shown that students show better engagement in studying when they have in front of them a printed textbook and can better understand the lessons.
The OECD – Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development reported that the education systems that used computers at a great extent did not show better results in the reading, maths and science skills in the PISA – Programme for International Student Assessment tests.
According to the OECD’s education director, Andreas Schleicher, students who use tablets and computers frequently are in fact worse in school than the ones who use them moderately. He adds that if we look at the best-performing education systems such as the ones in East Asia, there the educators have been very cautious about using technology in their classroom.
It is a fact that thanks to the introduction of iPads the students were more involved in the classroom, but when the learning process was concerned there have been no elicit proves of learning improvement.
However, there is also the belief that many teachers lack the skills to fully use the high-tech devices in terms of better learning and technology skills among students. Additionally, due to the constant rise in technology the need of upgrades is highly needed, but the low education budgets cannot always follow it.
All these devices are effective due to the internet access which needs to be controlled when children are involved. There is also the negative effect of the blue light emitted by these devices that has been proven to negatively influence our health, including eye damage, delayed language development, concentration issues, mental health issues, obesity, sleeping disorders and many more. Moreover, their use can trigger depression, addiction, chronic stress, and irritability.
Therefore, it seems that the Reddam House Private School made the right decision to go back to printed textbooks.
We cannot go back in time and completely avoid the use of these devices, but we can try to use them intelligently. In the case of the education system we would need better trained teachers who would know how to find the balance in their use.