Education departments go wild for the iPad

Not every department is keen on the new technology, however

Schools and universities right around Australia had jumped headfirst into trials of Apple’s hyped iPad tablet as they rush to discover exactly what the device’s use will be in the educational field — sometimes with the support of their overarching education departments, and sometimes without.

Western Australia’s Department of Education and Training revealed this week that some schools in the state were displaying an increased interest in iPads and tablet devices, purchasing the handheld computers independently to trial in various education programs.

“The department does not have a policy on the use of iPads or Android-based technology at this stage, however some schools have bought tablet devices to trial in various settings,” said departmental chief information officer Bevan Doyle. “There appears to be a level of interest in this technology for educational use.”

The department said that Kinross College, Ashdale Secondary College, Ballajura Community College and John Curtin College of the Arts were examples of schools that had already purchased iPads to test out.

In Victoria, the Brumby Labor state government got on the bandwagon early, announcing plans to buy 500 iPads for trials throughout the state soon after the iPad launched in Australia in late May. Those devices have made their way into seven schools in the state.

The University of Adelaide jumped into the handheld computer revolution headfirst last week when it was announced last week that students who enroll in science degrees will receive a free iPads. And Education Queensland is also trialling “handheld computers”, although it has not yet confirmed whether its trial involved iPads.

Western Australia’s Doyle said the department had no “central buying arrangement for iPads”, although pending further interest from schools official movements would be made — such as seeking optimal pricing on the devices. Typically schools will purchase technology through centralised panels designed to drive economies of scale.

Doyle said that the department had laptops and desktops purchase guidelines in place to steer public school purchases in the area — adding that iPads and other tablet devices were within those bounds. The WA department maintains a student to computer ratio base in public schools — institutions receive technology funding to maintain the ratio base of 1:5 for secondary schools and 1:10 for primary schools.

“Schools are able to use the remaining funds for other technologies including iPads, and of course schools can supplement the funding from other sources,” said Doyle. “It is important to make sure schools’ technology can be accommodated and supported within our standard operating environment. WA schools are “strongly encouraged” to open discussion with the departing before venturing into technology acquisitions.

The Queensland Government confirmed that a dozen “small” schools are involved in a trial where “handheld” computers – and other devices such as computers, data loggers, MP3 recorders and USB microscopes — are used as education tools to compliment and enhance science classes.

In addition, an unconfirmed number of secondary and primary schools are trialling the handheld devices in other fields literacy, maths, reading, writing, English as a second language and special needs classes.

“Handheld computers in schools are being used for individual and small group activities where students interact with educational apps,” David O’Hagan, Assistant Director-General Information and Technologies for the state’s Department of Education and Training. “The devices are small and portable which makes them easy to use for educational activities that take place outside the classroom and on field trips.”

“Technology doesn’t replace what students learn, but it can transform how they learn and this is critical in an education system that seeks to engage students every day,” he added. “As new devices become available the department will review these products, their manageability, and their appropriateness for teaching and learning,” said O’Hagan.

QLD’s Department of Education and Training was asked to elaborate what the “handheld” computers were, but did not confirm further details by the time of publication.

But not every department is as keen on the new technology.

The Tasmanian Department of Education’s official stance on iPads or similar devices is that not enough time time has passed to give the technology serious consideration. “As the technology of iPads is so new, the Department of Education has not yet had a chance to consider their potential use in the department or in schools,” said a departmental spokesperson.

The New South Wales Department of Education and Training could not comment on possible future plans of iPads and tablet devices until a new CIO is in place. Former DET CIO Stephen Wilson resigned in June to join Qantas’ technology team.

While in the DET position, Wilson was not interested in considering the iPad as an education device. In May he said that the tablet is “a wonderful consumption and entertainment device” but it was limited in its capacity as a useful educational tool and would not provide students with practical workforce skills.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags apple ipadiPad

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jenna Pitcher

Good Gear Guide
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?