Letters To The Editor

| March 9, 2012 | 0 Comments

Madam,

The article carried recently in the Times newspaper (‘iPads for elite schools’, 26 January 2012) refers.

In this piece, journalist Katharine Child reported on Kingsmead College’s plan to roll out a new Information Technology (IT) strategy, namely the use throughout the school of iPad technology, subsequent to the installation of a campus-wide wireless network.
We would like to share with your readers a richer picture of the contexts that led to our decision than was provided by Child in her article.
Our decision to introduce the iPad as another teaching and learning tool was taken only after intensive, relevant research and consultation with our Council, staff, parents, students and other relevant stakeholders, such as technology consultants. The move supports our chosen strategic themes of student experience, collaboration and communication.

We were initially encouraged to learn that ‘roll-outs’ of tablet technology in schools is a growing worldwide phenomenon, confirming that it will be a primary instruction tool in the classroom of the future. The challenge for any school today is to create a learning environment where children, who are generally so digitally ‘tuned in’, can learn in a relevant and engaging way.

We then used the following questions – derived from researcher James Mackenzie’s work – to determine whether the iPad could support our curriculum and methodologies:

1.    Do the educational resources available for reading on the iPad adequately replace the content available in traditional textbooks?
2.    Can the iPad support rigorous research as well as the harvesting and storage of information?
3.    Can the iPad provide students with sufficient communication tools so they are able to translate their findings from research into persuasive essays and presentations as well as multimedia products that seem desirable?

The answers to these questions confirmed that ‘apps’ developed by Apple specifically for the South African context will enhance how our girls learn.

The third stage of our research involved the serious and sensitive issue of affordability. Although we have asked our Grade 6s and 8 parents to buy iPads for their children, the school will also house mobile banks of iPads that will be available to girls for use in all the grades and for those who cannot afford them.

Kingsmead hopes to achieve the following stated objectives:

·    Reduce the amount of investment into fixed computer laboratories and desktop computers.
·    Achieve maximum usage from IT assets.
·    Embrace multipurpose learning using rich media options.
·    Prepare students for tomorrow’s workplace.
·    Enhance the quality of instruction.
·    Move away from traditional pedagogy.
·    Reduce reliance on paper-based teaching and learning.
·    Increase whole-school awareness of a comprehensive IT policy that stresses responsible, safe use of technology.

We have included in our plan the non-negotiable intention to podcast lessons to our partner schools, allowing many other children to benefit from iPad project. We aim, in this way and through using teacher-generated open content, to address the issue of the digital divide. We also believe that resource-rich independent schools have the opportunity, and indeed the responsibility, to pave the way when it comes to implementing teaching and learning innovations, and to share their knowledge and experience with other schools across the country and beyond.

We are ever mindful of the words of John Dewey, educator and philosopher: “If we teach the way we did yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.”

Sincerely

Lisa Kaplan, Headmistress, Kingsmead College

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Category: Autumn 2012

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