The More Tech-Savvy The Principal, The More iPads In The Classroom

The More Tech-Savvy The Principal, The More iPads In The Classroom

iPad use in schools more likely when administrators like and use mobile tech

With its e-textbook initiative, iTunes U, and a range of educational resources, Apple is pitching the iPad as critical element in 21st century schools. Many schools have already begun iPad tests or full-scale deployments. In other schools, however, there’s still a fight over where and how the iPad and other technologies fit into the classroom. A battle erupted between teachers and lawmakers in Idaho earlier this year over new technology requirements in the state’s schools.

So what makes some schools embrace iPads and other new technologies while others resist them? It turns out that the answer may lie in the personal technology preferences of school and district administrators.

Project Tomorrow, an education research and advocacy group, released an extensive report on technology use in U.S. schools earlier this week. The report was based on the non-profit’s annual online survey, which was completed by more than 416,000 K-12 students, parents, teachers, librarians, and administrators over the course of last year.

One of the most significant finding centers on how principals, superintendents, and other school and district administrators use technology in both their personal and professional lives.

As a group, school administrators are significantly more plugged into mobile technology than the average American. Project Tomorrow found that half of school administrators owned an iPad or other tablet device compared to 10% of the general population at the time of the survey. Similarly, 70% of administrators owned a smartphone, significantly more than the general population, which Project Tomorrow noted as being 46% at the time of the survey (that number has grown over the intervening months and now stands at just over half of all Americans with mobile phones).

The personal adoption of mobile technologies by administrators lead many to push for iPads, iPod touches, laptops and other mobile devices in the classroom. Nearly a third (30%) of all “mobilist” administrators pushed for such devices to be used in their schools. That’s more than twice the effort put in by administrators without a personal investment in mobile technologies. Among that group, only 13% made efforts to add or expand the use of technology.

Similar numbers were found when teachers discussed their personal and professional use of technology. Teachers that have taken an online class or used the Internet for professional development (about half of all teachers in the survey) were 22% more likely to recommend online classes and similar resources for their students.

Another surprising point is that schools are investing in BYOD programs for faculty, staff, and administrators – and schools with tech-friendly administrators are 21% likely to be exploring or implementing such programs.

The full report is available from Project Tomorrow (PDF link).

  • mr_bee

    The iPad is simply the latest “magical device that will cure all the ails of education.”  I work in Education Technology and have seen this before both when computers first came out and then when laptops became cheap and readily available.  

    There’s nothing wrong with giving students the latest technology.  The constant refrain about how this is going to “revolutionise” education, or help kids learn any better than they did when they still used pieces of chalk on a slate however, is and always has been … total BS.  
    Learning has very little to do with computers and technology and while technology can help handicapped people communicate, it doesn’t do anything particularly special for the average kid.  
    The technology to use iPads in the classroom is only barely there however.  Bulk purchasing of software, as well as device management strategies and techniques are only taking shape as we speak.  There is still only one kind of “cart” available for classroom deployment of iPads for instance.  
    Those deploying this year are way, way out on the bleeding edge.  
  • xMoonDevilx

    Agree with Mr. Bee for the most part.
    Was a teacher in Computer Technology at a High School, and had use of about 25 desktop stations in just my classroom alone. What really affects any tech inclusion into programs like this, is directly affected by the District as much as the school. I found several ways to incorporate learning curriculum into the classroom, many that would have been a benefit from basic learning to more advanced topics that could have benefitted them outside the classroom…prepare them for job skills, or how to get advancement outside of college which many might not have been able to afford after High School. But the District, understandably, put restrictions on what could be seen on the Internet…and if any were to be used, had to go through what would be about a month’s time of approval period. This would often be well after the fact in covering the areas of the curriculum…being many times that last minute idea that a teacher gets to assist in adding to the current content. There was no trust in the teacher to determine the value or safety, or censoring of unwanted content.
    Now, in this day and age…things are being seen as more vital to the classroom. I applaud the efforts of those wanting the tech in the classroom, as it often makes it easier for the teacher and more involved and fun for the students to learn through. But a lot will depend on the district. Can the District afford to implement them…even with bulk purchasing? If not, how will it affect the standardizing of the curriculum? Will it tie the hands of some teachers not in these afforded programs?
    Also, as a note…and may be changing…but the software used, for example at my school, was actual Adobe CS, but was the Student/Teacher addition. With the yearly upgrades by the software companies…Student and Teacher additions are excluded from the upgrade pricing, and must pay the full amount for their version. While it is less than the regular, it is still very high considering the upgrade pricing is typical a lot less than the Student and Teacher additions…not considering the Licensing.
    I am all for it, but there needs to be a more cohesiveness amongst all areas for it to be instituted across the boards as a standardized education.

  • technochick

    That headline is only correct when the principal actually has control over the issue. Many public schools such decisions are made at a district level and the principals do as they are told in the matter. 

  • technochick
    Learning has very little to do with computers and technology and while technology can help handicapped people communicate, it doesn’t do anything particularly special for the average kid.  

    Sorry but I have to disagree. Tech is not just for the special ed kids. When you have teachers and IT people that are willing to use it well, tech is a valuable learning tool for all kids. The key is to ‘use it well’ same as any other tech or technique

About the author

Ryan FaasRyan Faas is a technology journalist and consultant living in upstate New York who has written extensively about Apple, business and enterprise IT, and the mobile industry. In addition to writing for Cult of Mac, he is a contributor to Computerworld, InformIT, and Peachpit Press. In a previous existence he was a healthcare IT director as well as a systems and network administrator. Follow Ryan on Twitter and Google +

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