Australian School Bans iPads To Go Back To Textbook Learning—Should Every School Do This?

A Sydney school has banned kids from using iPads in the classroom and plans to return to teaching lessons using good old-fashioned textbooks. It’s a bold move, especially considering many schools are embracing technology more and more and phasing out books, but could it maybe be a good decision?

It’s a complete 180 for the school. The Reddam House Private School has always allowed students to bring their own laptops to the classroom and has taught exclusively with e-textbooks since 2014. It was a move meant to improve technology skills as well as foster learning, but staff found it had the opposite effect.

iPads were “distracting” kids instead of helping them learn. According to Principal Dave Pitcairn, students were often distracted by receiving messages and notification alerts on the tablets while they were meant to be learning. No surprises there!

Even the students are anxious to return to books. The school claims student preference played a large part in their decision to return to textbooks, saying that feedback from the kids showed a clear affinity for actual printed pages over iPad and laptop screens.

Some parents aren’t happy. Some parents of Reddam House students aren’t thrilled with the decision to go back to textbooks, claiming that using iPads and other technological advances in the classroom is “essential for modern education,” according to The Hearty Soul. However, Principal Pitcairn thinks the advantage of searching through and reading textbooks is unparalleled.

Studies on the use of iPads in the classroom are inconclusive. While one Canadian study said that students who used iPads to learn, were more motivated, they were indeed way more distracted and their writing skills left something to be desired since the device didn’t allow them to write longer papers. iPads have proven beneficial in an educational setting for students with autism, but a lot more research needs to be done before any definitive answer can be reached.

Students learned from textbooks for hundreds of years and did just fine. I’m in no way saying schools should be behind the times and hang onto unnecessary archaic means of educating simply for the sake of it, but given that young people spend so much time glued to screens outside of school, would it really hurt them to have 6-8 hours out of the day in which they’re not? Using textbooks not only eliminates the distractions posed by iPads, it also may foster a love of reading in students who don’t otherwise look at books. That’s a good enough reason for the switch for me.

Textbooks are less expensive, as well. Sure, textbooks can cost a fair amount of money, but their shelf life extends far behind that of an iPad, which is not only costly to buy by also easier to break, meaning schools will be spending twice as much money (if not more) equipping students with these devices. Common sense rules here—textbooks are the way to go.

 

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