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Is the iPad Set to Dominate Public Schools?

New York City just dropped $1.3 million on 2,000 iPads. Should your local school district do the same?


Remember when schools used to have the goal of every student having a laptop for classroom use? Well, that one-to-one student laptop program dream is so last year. In 2011, the iPad revolution is on, and school districts are increasingly investing in them as the education tech tool of choice.

The least expensive iPad starts at $499 a pop, but cash-strapped districts are placing the orders and writing the checks. The New York City Public Schools just purchased more than 2,000 iPads. The cost? $1.3 million dollars.


The number of iPads purchased in New York certainly isn't adequate for the city's 1.1 million students to each have one in class. Instead, the pricey tablet will be piloted in a few lucky schools across the city.

According to The New York Times, the Big Apple isn't alone in making the switch to the iPad.

More than 200 Chicago public schools applied for 23 district-financed iPad grants totaling $450,000. The Virginia Department of Education is overseeing a $150,000 iPad initiative that has replaced history and Advanced Placement biology textbooks at 11 schools. And six middle schools in four California cities (San Francisco, Long Beach, Fresno and Riverside) are teaching the first iPad-only algebra course, developed by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

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Those iPad-only courses, as well as green-friendly virtual textbooks and an endless supply of educational apps make the iPad an appealing investment. But, not everyone's a believer.

Larry Cuban, a professor emeritus at the Stanford University School of Education says the jury's still out on whether the tablets actually help boost student achievement. Instead, Cuban believes districts would be better off spending the iPad money on teacher support and training.

What do you think? Should schools be jumping on the iPad bandwagon so quickly, or is Cuban right?

photo (cc) via Flickr user superkimbo

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