When I was young, I loved and waited for the period when we would go to the computer lab. During my first practicum, I realized that it has not changed. Students still want to go to the computer lab. I think it would be really nice to have Ipads integrated into classrooms, but especially into ESL classrooms. It would motivate students to learn through a known tool, the Ipad. Also, it would help making the usage of technology by students more structured and meaningful than it is right now.
There are a plethora of applications available to Ipad users. A lot of them are free to use, some others cost a little. This allows teachers to have access to many useful applications in order to teach their material, as well as for filling up the students’ free time with meaningful exercises. There are applications for beginners as well as for advanced students. There are also applications for personal improvement, so that students who would like to improve faster than others can do so, or to learn another subject.
Having an Ipad for every student allows teachers to share documents on all devices at the same time very easily with apps such as google drive and idea flight. The interface is extremely intuitive and almost anyone can use it with ease. Documents made with apple products are easy to make visually pleasing. Moreover, having an Ipad per student in class instead of a computer allows the teacher to see what his/her students are doing and it is easy to move, with a cart.
Another advantage is that if a student is ever able to leave with one of the ipads, it is easily findable. If it cannot be found, it just becomes a very expensive paperweight as soon as it connects to a WIFI network since Apple can deactivate it.
The major disadvantage for having an Ipad per student in ESL classes is that it cost a lot of money. For an Ipad Air, it costs from $519 to $819. As for the latest version of Ipad mini, it is from $419 to $719. Most retailers do not sell the Ipad 4 and the Ipad mini without Retina display anymore. If the school buy a lot of devices, there could be a discount, but even then, it will still be quite expensive.
Another disadvantage is that with an electronic device in front of them, students can easily get off task. It is really important for a teacher to keep his/her students’ attention in order to improve the effectiveness of his/her interventions. Ipads can be controlled by a server to be locked during the teacher’s material explanation. Also, to reduce off-task behaviors, Ipads have to be filled up only with school stuff and as much as possible, disconnected from internet during class time.
I think having an Ipad for each student is way too much money to spend for a school. However, it could be a long term project. School could start fundraising for ipads every year in order to upgrade their Ipads every four years. Even if students have access to an Ipad during class time, not all activities should be done on that device. The teacher should be ready for every situation and get material ready if technical issues ever arise.