Essa Academy claims new mobile initiative benefits students AND cuts costs.
The days of school pupils using a pen and a piece of paper could soon become a thing of the past, as Bolton’s Essa Academy has provided all of its 840 students and teachers with their very own iPad in favour of more conventional stationary, BBC News has reported.
In a move to evolve education with an advanced technological bent, Essa Academy claims that replacing pens and paper with iPads is both beneficial to its pupils and cost effective, having slashed its photocopying bill from £80,000 per year to a £15,000.
While it is inevitable that the school’s ultra-modern initiative will raise more than a few eyebrows, Showk Badat, head teacher at Essa Acadamy, believes that the new approach is merely the next step in the evolution of education. “When the book was invented and pens were invented, the way they were utilised would have been seen as the technology of their day,” he said. “I just see it as a natural evolutionary progression.”
One of the key benefits offered by the school’s adoption of the iPad is in allowing teachers to gain a greater grasp of their pupils’ understanding of a given subject. So, when conducting a class test, for instance, the teacher can view the pupils’ individual answers in real time, rendering marking obsolete and allowing the teacher to address areas in need of attention immediately.
However, while such benefits may sound appealing, what of the potential problems with providing pupils with their very own iPad? Are children not likely to peruse the web and partake in games in favour of schoolwork? “We’ve got to show them how to make the right decision,” said Badat. “That is our primary aim. We also have proper safeguards, so our Internet is properly filtered.”
By allowing pupils to take their iPad home with them, the Essa Academy has also opened up communications between child and teacher via email after school hours. This is seen by the academy as an innovative way of providing children with professional assistance with their homework. And, while the response time will vary from teacher-to-teacher, the school believes that this measure will ensure that children benefit from their teachers’ expertise not just inside, but also outside of the classroom.
So, is this to be seen as a milestone in the world of education? Can we expect to see handwriting rendered entirely obsolete in the not too distant future, or is this merely a fad, unlikely to gain any substantial widespread approval? Clearly, schools with sufficient budgets for such an initiative may welcome this approach, but what of those unable to afford an iPad for all? Will the gulf between the educational privileges of the rich and the poor grow ever wider? Regardless, the growing prominence of technology within education is certainly not something that is going to abate any time soon.