There’s at least one state primary school in Australia that’s separating kids into classes according to who has an iPad and who doesn’t.
Their BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) program works like this: Kids in all year levels are free to bring in their own iPads to use in the classroom. It has to be an Apple iPad or iPad mini. Parents buy the devices, kids take them to and from school, and everyone hopes like hell they end the day with screens intact.
Breakages are the responsibility of families.
It’s not compulsory to own an iPad but kids are separated into ‘iPad’ and ‘no iPad classes.’
This school is in an affluent area, and most families support the program. There was lots of discussion and consultation. Some parents though, objected, but ended up buying their kid an iPad because they didn’t want her to feel left out or ‘second class’. Naturally, most kids want to be in an ‘iPad class.’ I know mine would.
Some families can’t afford iPads, some simply don’t want their kids using them in the classroom but most are going with the flow.
One parent I know opted for her kids to be in iPad free classes (although they will uses school owned devices in the library, music etc). She’s a teacher, and the cost of buying four shiny new iPads wasn’t outweighed by educational benefits. Her older boy will need a laptop when he starts high school next year, so it didn’t make sense to jump aboard the iPad train. They have iPads and laptops at home so she don’t consider they’ll be ‘left behind’. I think she’s wise, and quite brave.
Look, I’m not Amish. We have our share of iDevices and certainly I have a (mild) addiction to mine but I think this school’s plan is wrong.
I have no problem with iPads being used at school, or Bring Your Own Device programs in high school or private schools where families know all along what they’re up for, but to divide kids into classes according to device ownership seems discriminatory, even if it’s theoretically optional.
Most schools, public and private, are grappling with how to handle the divisive issue of devices. Is it the school’s responsibility to supply them? The government’s? The family’s? Should all kids have the same kind of device and at what age or year should they become compulsory?
My daughters’ school has a laptop program from year four. Families pay a fee for their child to use a laptop for three years. Everyone has identical computers which they can take home.