Boston: Looks like crayons, finger paints and alphabet blocks as teaching tools are old school. Kindergarten students in Maine will now learn their ABCs and 123s on the latest iPad 2 tablets.A school district in Auburn, Maine will dish out 200,000 dollars to buy iPads for nearly 300 kindergarten pupils for the next school session starting around August this year.
Apart from their alphabets and numbers, the kindergarten students will learn drawing and music on the hi-tech gadget through apps for phonics, building words, letter recognition and letter formation.
The iPad is a powerful education tool with hundreds of teaching applications, Superintendent Tom Morrill said in a Boston Globe report.
"With its touchpad screen, it is simple to use and can bring learning to life with imagery and sounds. It`s a revolution in education," he said.
The school board had last week unanimously approved the plan to give all kindergartners iPads next fall.
Maine had distributed Apple laptops to all seventh and eighth graders in 2002 and 2003, becoming the first state to equip students statewide with computers.
The state Department of Education believes Auburn is the first school district in Maine that will give iPads to kindergartners, the Boston Globe report said.
Schools in Omaha, Nebraska; Columbiana, Ohio and Scottsdale, Arizona are among other places where kindergarten pupils are using iPads.
Angus King, the former Maine governor who launched the state`s laptop programme, lauded the idea of iPads in kindergarten saying anything that holds the attention of pupils will help in the learning process.
"If your students are engaged, you can teach them anything," King said.
"If they`re bored and looking out the window, you can be Socrates and you`re not going to teach them anything. These devices are engaging," he said.
However some education experts and parents are not sold on the idea of using iPads for kindergarten pupils.
The USD 200,000 proposed for iPads "might be better spent on some other school programme," said parent Sue Millard.
She also questioned whether kindergartners are old enough to appreciate the effort.
"I understand you have to keep up with technology, but I think a 5-year old is a little too young to understand," she said.
Larry Cuban, a professor emeritus of education at Stanford University and the author of `Oversold and Underused: Computers in Schools,` said there`s no proof that computers bring learning benefits to pupils who are young.
"There`s no evidence in research literature that giving iPads to 5-year-olds will improve their reading scores," he said.
First Published: Wednesday, April 13, 2011, 13:37