As an educator, who doesn't want to see students engaged in learning? I have visions of the iPad transforming learning, of watching students accessing electronic databases, hearing them synthesize and analyze data in collaborative groups, using an educational app for content creation, or generating text or digital video that speaks to their mastery of content that will help the students excel on standardized tests or even more importantly in life.
So today... as these thoughts floated through my head, I took a moment to look at one of my students in the library using the iPad, and I prepared to jump into an intellectual discussion of the educational benefits of using the iPad, but instead I was faced with a student who was gleefully knocking over pigs with angry birds! Say what? Okay . . . let's admit it...we've all played Angry Birds on some device at least once (or maybe 100s of times :-), but there was a slight (okay major) disappointment that my vision wasn't a reality at that moment, especially since I didn't install the Angry Birds app on the iPad and I was in the midst of visions of so much more. (Side note: for those who don't know--because our students do--you can sign into the Apple Store with your own Apple ID, and download apps. Including a section that requires students to agree that they will not change any settings or download any apps or eBooks is important to include in a Student User Agreement before allowing students to use any electronic device. Angry Birds is fairly innocuous, but it's still against the user policy.)
Now I do understand the day of our high school students is intellectually intense, so I believe that as well as a learning center, the library should be an inviting place for students to occasionally "catch their breath" and relax for a few moments by reading a magazine, newspaper, book, listen to music, or play an educational game or two. (I'm still trying to figure out if Angry Birds has any connection to the physics academic content standards, so far I haven't come up with anything ;-) However, the primary purpose of the library should be to connect students to resources within and outside the school walls, which can definitely be accomplished through the use of the iPad when directed by librarians and teachers, and often students as well.
In contrast to the Angry Birds scenario, this week one of our students asked permission to explore the use of Google Docs on the iPad because he had a research paper due the following week, and he wanted to test the iPad's possibilities and capabilities for content creation. Obviously the answer was "Yes!." The statistics for accessing our online databases has also soared in the past couple of months as we have promoted the use of the iPad for research and students have shared their success with the content retrieval. There are moments when it's difficult to pilot one iPad in the library because it can be viewed as a toy rather than a tool, but offering students the opportunity to explore ways that the iPad will assist their academic endeavors has always been productive. Within the next year, we hope to have a classroom set of iPads that will be used in the library with all content areas. Having a group of students to brainstorm, test, and help choose useful apps and tools will definitely be part of the iPad implementation goals.