“In the shadow” of Apple Computer’s Cupertino headquarters, middle-schoolers are using iPads in class and at home, reports Sharon Noguchi in the San Jose Mercury News. Yet, “many parents in the affluent district — including some software engineers, Apple employees and a brain researcher — question the benefit of the devices, and hundreds have signed a petition to limit their use” to school.
Some worry about privacy. Others think their kids spend too much time staring at screens.
Cost also is an issue. The three middle schools requiring iPad use provide loaners to needy students. However, parents say they feel pressured to buy the $563 devices. (District officials say iPads are superior to cheaper Chromebooks.)
“iPads are entertainment devices,” said Noemi Berry, a network engineer and mother of a Lawson Middle School seventh-grader and two other children. “They’re not designed for education, and they’re very hard to restrict. I have a 12-year-old boy who has a horrible screen addiction problem.”
. . . Cupertino Union School District spokesman Jeff Bowman insists placing iPads in every middle-schooler’s hands has improved students’ quality of work, language ability, behavior and organizational skills, though the district has no quantifiable evidence of better learning.
In a survey last year, a third of parents who responded said using iPads had improve their child’s attitude toward school; nearly half said they valued their child’s iPad work.
Peter Chu, a software executive whose 15-year-old daughter, Ashley is a ninth-grader at Cupertino High School, sees the iPad as a phenomenal education tool that’s “creative, engaging and appropriate for this day and age.”
Ashley said her classes at Lawson, where teachers embraced the iPads were her favorites. One of her memorable assignments was creating a video explaining how paleontology proves evolution.
The district plans to create a task force to study its use of technology. It also plans to expand the iPads-for-all program to two more middle schools.