Some Pros and Cons of iPads for ELT

Monday 31 January 2011

by Nik Peachey

Well the iPad has really hit the news in education circles since its release last year. I’m sure lots of teachers are wondering whether it’s hype and what the true potential of these devices are as tools for learners. I’ve had my iPad for about 8 months now, so I’ve decided to share my reflections so far on what I like about the iPad, what potential I feel it offers for developing course books and course materials and some of the problems.

Image of iPad

DELTA on iPad

Here’s what I like.

  • I really like the high quality screen and the touch sensitivity of the interface. Simply being able to touch things to find out how they work and to operate them without having any other external device like a mouse or keyboard is great.
  • This extends to the actual built in keyboard that appears on the screen. I actually bought an external keyboard because I thought I would need it, but never use it as I find tapping away silently on the screen much more comfortable and the sensitivity of the screen seems to suit my typing style.
  • The main way to extend and enhance the functionality of the iPad is to download ‘apps’ from the iTunes store. ‘Apps’ are small software programmes designed to work on the iPad and many of them are either free or very cheap (around 10% of the price or less) compared to traditional software. This is a bit of a reversal of the trends of recent years during which software has almost become a thing of the past with most software applications being delivered within the web browser as web based ‘apps’.
  • These ‘apps’ are then capable of interacting with services on the internet so that users can create things like video, audio, text or graphics on the iPad and post it directly to the web without actually having to go to a website. A nice example of this is AudioBoo, a podcasting service which allows you to record audio on your iPad and publish it to a web based blog in a single click direct from your classroom(Yes the iPad has a built in microphone for recording).
  • This kind of interaction between the iPad and web based services makes it a much safer tool to use with students and also greatly reduces the possibility of them straying onto distracting websites.
  • Most iPad ‘apps’ are also designed for a single purpose and when you change to another app the previous one is closed down. This makes managing classes / students using iPads much easier as it is harder for students to open multiple windows and click away from Facebook or their email whenever they see you approaching.
  • Unlike the average laptop which can take a few minutes to get out and get booted up, virus checked and ready to work, an iPad can be switched on and an ‘app’ can be opened in seconds. This means that valuable classroom time isn’t wasted and consulting something like Wikipedia or Google can be done almost instantly, so very short bursts of computer use can easily be used to enhance and inform classroom interaction without lots of wasted time.
  • Lastly, IPads tend to lend themselves more easily to more sociable interaction within the classroom. They are easier to hand from person to person, so students aren’t bound to the location of the computer, they can amble about the classroom with them and pass them round from person to person just as they could a book.

So what does this mean in terms of developing materials or course books for the iPad?

  • The iPad would be a great platform for publishing an ELT course book. In theory it would be possible to have video and audio material built right into the pages of the book so that students could work independently at their own pace or a teacher could use a single device with a data projector to show activities on the board.
  • It is possible to build interactivity into the exercises in the pages of the book so that the materials could be marked and scored by the software and the results sent back to the teachers’ copy.
  • Students could also use it to record their own speaking to send to the teacher for evaluation or actually connect up live to chat with other students, work collaboratively on texts or exercises or do speaking or pairwork activities from home.
  • Students could interact with graphs and live data which could become personalised for the particular class.
  • Visuals could be 3 dimensional and tactile and able to respond to user input from students.  Students could even navigate round small scale virtual worlds from within the course book.
  • The iPad is a great tool for creating text and can enable students to publish directly to a blog or learning journal without leaving the iPad app and of course the high quality screen makes it ideal for reading from.
  • The cost of developing an ‘app’ based ibook for an iPad is likely to be as great as that of developing a paper based book, but the costs of distribution are likely to be much much cheaper, which could result in a cheaper products for students.

So what about the problems?

  • The first has to be price. With a single device costing £400 + you either need to be working in a very well resourced school, or have very wealthy students. Though if the cost of the device can be offset against the cost of books, stationary, photocopying, other devices etc, then that might not seem so expensive, but still out of  reach of many students and schools.
  • Connectivity can also be a problem. If you have lots of students in your classroom working on rich media content you could very easily crash or drastically slow down your network connection. There are however a good number of apps that will work without connectivity too.
  • iPads certainly aren’t indestructible. If you drop them onto a hard surface they break. You can get protective cases for them, but this adds to the expense and still wont make them indestructible.
  • As with every new technological innovation that is introduced into education, this will need to be backed up with training, so that the iPads actually get used. It’s not a difficult tool to learn to use, compared to an IWB, but it may prove difficult to use it well, so teachers will need support.

From a quick comparison of these two lists it may well look like the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages, but those disadvantages are BIG, especially the cost. If you are thinking of introducing iPads in your school, then I think by far the best way to start is just by having a few in the teachers’ staff room and letting the teachers explore them and see what they can do with them. If this can generate some enthusiasm then you could be on your way to having a 21st century language school.

What do you think?

  • Have you tried an iPad?
  • What apps have you found useful?
  • Have you used one with students?
  • Can you add to any of the lists of pros and cons above?
  • Would you prefer a course book delivered on a mobile device rather than paper?

63 responses to Some Pros and Cons of iPads for ELT

  1. Hi Nik,

    I have two students at a software company who are developing magazines for the IPad so we use them quite regularly in our classes. As you mentioned above, all the fine points, above…yes.

    However, until more tablets come out and the prices lower significantly then we won’t see a shift over to these devices on any sort of grand scale.

    Also, and most importantly, while this is the latest bandwagon to jump on… it is essential to rethink about how material is presented. It simply isn’t a case of turn coursebook material into PDFs and ta-da, there we go, this is now mobile material.

    Like my students have shown me (without breaking confidentiality) it’s another medium of delivery, it requires new content.

    Karenne

    • Nik Peachey says:

      Yes Karenne

      I agree it is another medium and one that can open up so many more ways of interacting with materials and facilitating interaction between students based around those materials. So not just new materials, but also a new approach to how we exploit and create interaction with and around the content.

      I think the prices will start to come down soon. Perhaps Apple will be making so much money from app sales they’ll be able to give the iPads away for free (we can dream) .At the moment what seems to surprise me is how many of the new iPad competitors have entered the market at a higher price than the iPad! That doesn’t seem to make much sense.

      Would love to hear about how you are using the iPads in your class.

      Thanks for the comments.

      Best

      Nik

  2. Samuel says:

    Wonderful information! I have been previously trying to find something like this for a long time now. Thx!

  3. Gordon lewis says:

    Free and apple? Dont think we will see that anytime soon, but the prices for tablets will drop drmatically in the next one to two years…you can see it coming here in the us already.

    I love the pad as a platform for courseware

    • Nik Peachey says:

      Hi Gordon

      Geat to hear that US prices are coming down. I’m sure they will here too and of course the devices being desgned will continue to be more powerful and feature rich.

      Sadly I agree about free iPads. Probably a long long long way off.

      I think we also have yet to see designers of courseware that really take full advantage of the capabilities of the these devices to create interaction. So lots to look forward to.

      Best

      Nik

  4. Beverly says:

    Yes, I also agree with needing a new mode of content, not just pre-existing text in online forum.

    Newly styled picture books are starting to come on the market. For example ‘The Heart in the Bottle’ by Oliver Jeffers. This book is an app on itunes and provides an interactive experience with the reader. The reader can make items move to uncover/discover context. The reader is involved in the experience and they control the pace (lingering and forging ahead when desired).

    I look forward to the up and coming potential in this area.
    Beverly

  5. Chiew says:

    How can I get one? He he.
    Perhaps when Apple becomes Coconut, we’ll all be able to get them for free!

  6. Phil says:

    Free ipads?

    These seem to be a few Unis embracing the idea and financially they may be actually saving money. No more paper books to buy and store, computer labs, huge handouts and maybe even hard copies of tests. As for teachers, we can take all our materials, attendance sheets, plans and multimedia in one little bag. If they can make an iteacher app then I’m sold.

    http://www.thevarguy.com/2010/08/06/major-university-gives-free-ipads-to-freshman/

    • Nik Peachey says:

      Yes, I think where money isn’t such a problem in the first place, these can be money saving devices, especially as you say in universities where students have to buy lots of expensive books. Although, in many cases the cost f digital books and even novels isn’t less for the digital copy than it is for the paper copy. This is something that will have to change.

      Best

      Nik

  7. Rachael says:

    Thanks for your reflections. I agree about affordability and equity, teacher training and the development of more apps. But some of the concerns I had you have dispelled, so thanks!

    • Sandra C. Dueñes says:

      Rachael,

      I agree with the fact that teacher training and the development of more apps for eduacational purposes are necessary. If these issues aren’t considered an institution investing risks throwing their money away.

      Sandra C. Dueñes
      ADELT students, Ags., Mex.

  8. SM Thompson says:

    I enter competitions in the belief that one day I will win iPads for ELT!

  9. This is a nice piece Nik and I like the way you capture the potential as well as the pros and cons of the devices, particularly the issue of cost.

    I looked at this issue last year when I felt that there would soon be cheaper iPad-like devices, including new generation version of the One Laptop Per Child computer and the Intel Classmate. The Indian Minister of Education announced last summer that they were commissioning a very cheap device, but we haven’t heard anything since. I think Apple’s competitors are finding it harder than they and commentators expected to match the iPad on cost, never mind quality.

    For Universities and affluent schools, it may make financial sense even now to use £400 tablets because of the potential savings on traditional IT infrastructure, the space you need for computer labs etc, combined with the cost of textbooks.

    But for that they need content, and so far good quality content for most subjects, especially language learning, is rather lacking as Paul Sweeney and I found in our recent review of language learning Apps. It’s going to be really interesting to see what happens, particularly on the pricing of digital content which isn’t right yet as you suggest in your follow up post.
    Caroline

    • Nik Peachey says:

      Hi Caroline

      Yes, There’s a vide article here about a $30 version of an iPad like device to be produced for India “India’s $30 iPad rival” http://theweek.com/article/index/206114/indias-30-ipad-rival

      I think prices will come down and soon and quality and power will go up. This has been a constant trend with technology over the last two decades and I don’t see why it won’t apply to the iPad / tablets too.

      Also, for the better funded organisations iPads ARE potential money savers. When I look round at some of the grossly over complex, heavy weight and ridiculously expensive tech that has been sold into the education sector, much of which remains unused or not maintained, I often think, If only they had just bought a data projector for each room and then bought each teacher an iPad or a laptop and just spent the rest of the money on really effective wireless connectivity, so much more could have been achieved.

      Unfortunately though a lot of the heavy tech investment has been directed at supporting a very traditional style of (PowerPoint driven) instructional model and one that largely doesn’t really need or even use the technology once it has been provided.

      As for the quality of language learning apps, there are some good ones out there (though many are not), but none of these represent yet something that could constitute a complete course of instruction. Most ELT publishers that are getting involved in apps seem to be focusing more on developing small add-on type apps that are more geared towards being viral marketing gimmicks than serious attempts at instructional tools.

      Some of the best apps I have seen, just like some of the most useful websites, tend to be ones that weren’t actually designed for educational purposes, but which instead deliver a useful function. As such these tend to be much more motivating and useful for students.

      As for course books for delivery on IPad I guess it will come, I just hope it is delivered with some real insight into the potential of the platform. It would be sad to see a scanned PDF version of the paper book passed off as a digital course book.

      Best

      Nik

  10. phil says:

    Well Nik, trees are now growing iphones so ipads should be pretty soon.

    http://www.slipperybrick.com/2009/12/the-iphone-christmas-tree/

  11. John Williams says:

    I’m not averse to using new technology in ELT, but I really think we ought to stand back for a moment and get a little perspective before we throw ourselves wholeheartedly into the hands of Apple.*

    Despite its cool image, Apple is a ruthless commercial operator quite the equal of Microsoft. The latter has managed to push the Windows operating system (Vista anyone?) into practically every educational institution in the country and more or less forced generations of students to purchase the overpriced MS Office software. I wouldn’t want to go down a similar route again.

    At least Microsoft allows anyone to develop, sell or give away software for Windows, whereas Apple keeps a tight control over the availabilty of apps, which I believe can only be obtained from the Apple store. (Please tell me if I’m wrong.)

    Nik says:
    I think the prices will start to come down soon. Perhaps Apple will be making so much money from app sales they’ll be able to give the iPads away for free (we can dream).

    From the ecological point of view, this is exactly the opposite model of the one we should be trying to encourage. Hardware uses up precious physical resources whereas software is intangible and easily reproducible so ought to be relatively cheap or free. If hardware is expensive, people hold onto their machines for longer, more robust design is encouraged, and software developers can invest more tiime in creating useful and resource-efficient software without worrying whether it will become obsolete.

    Sorry to pour cold water, and I haven’t really discussed ELT, but I thought it needed to be said.

    John Williams
    University of Portsmouth (in a personal capacity)

    * Other tablets are available, including ones that use Open Source software. For the record, on my personal laptop all my software (including the OS) is free and legally obtained, and I can do pretty well anything I want.

    • Nik Peachey says:

      Hi John

      You’re right in many ways about Apple. They are a big company, they are competitive and they are about making money. But, although they control the sale of all apps developed for iPad, they do allow anyone to develop them and access that market and the result has been MUCH cheaper software and the development of small scale commercial apps that would have been impossible otherwise.

      I hear what you’re saying about the constant upgrading to new models that seems almost virulent among mobile phone users, but I don’t think this is something that will change. In a way that does seem to be the basis for capitalist economies. What we can do is try to make sure disused technology gets handed down and / or recycled effectively.

      As for free software, that’s great. Just like free publishing, also great, but it isn’t a sustainable model on its own. Most free software development, like free publishing (much of which I do myself) is funded by something else. Basically at some point all of us, even people working in education, need to make some money in order to pay rent and eat, so I don’t think we can expect to get everything for free. It’s true, we have been through a kind of ‘golden age’ of Web 2.0 apps and websites that have been free, but increasingly these are either starting to charge or they are disappearing, so at some point I think we will all be faced with the reality of either paying a little bit for some of these services or risk loosing them.

      Thanks for you comment.

      Best

      Nik Peachey

    • Alberto López Esparza says:

      John:

      Prices for acquiring Ipads are slowly going down, at least here in Mexico; in my opinion, it will eventually happen the same thing as with phones; prices for the device itself will be low, so what you buy is the service, or the air time or applications, in the case of Ipad. I found quite interesting that lots of applications are free or cheaper than traditional software. That aspect shouldn’t be underestimated.

      Best regards.

      Alberto.

  12. Nicky Hockly says:

    Thanks for a really interesting and clear piece about the iPad and teaching, Nik. I particularly like the way you consider classroom management issues with mobile devices, not just content. I was especially struck by this comment of yours:

    “Most iPad ‘apps’ are also designed for a single purpose and when you change to another app the previous one is closed down. This makes managing classes / students using iPads much easier as it is harder for students to open multiple windows and click away from Facebook or their email whenever they see you approaching.”

    I think this is a crucial point that gets very little air time. Indeed, the consensus seems to be the more tasks you can do simultaneously on a device, and the more windows you can have open, the better. Clearly this adds to distraction and time off task – and that goes not just for work inside the classroom, but for the rest of us in our general professional lives! So, just wanted to say that this really struck a chord – thanks :-)

    Nicky

    • Nik Peachey says:

      Thanks Nicky

      Yes. It is an important point. Lots of people ask if iPads can really do anything that a laptop can’t and in truth they don’t, but their big advantage is that they do things in a way that is much quicker and more easily manageable for a classroom setting, and this can have a really big impact on their useability within a the classroom setting.

      Best

      Nik

  13. [...] Peachey Nik discusses in two blog posts: 1. Using the ipad in our teaching 2. Screencast tutorials for learning about tech [...]

  14. Vicki says:

    Oh terrific post, Nik, Thank you! And very interesting comments too. Who knows what will happen here, but I’d lay bets that Apple vs Android will probably turn out to be a non issue. Publishers can deliver content in epub and flash for both. (Actually, Amazon looks like more of a headache to me – no epub or video on the kindle)

  15. [...] lesson plan comparing literature texts. ELT EdTech On the DELTA blog, Nik Peachey lays out the advantages and disadvantages of iPads in the classroom;  Angela Maiers shares a very interesting infographic on cell phone usage – worth [...]

  16. Patricia Bueno Avechuco says:

    I am totally agree with the author, this is a great new tool and we have to take advantage of all technology, remember: Tradition versus Innovation; that’s what it is.
    Best
    Patty

  17. Monica Delgadillo says:

    Great article! I personally dont own an iPad, but a friend of mine does, so that´s how I have been able to try it. I love it. If I don´t have one, it´s because I dont have the money ( I agree with the fact of being expensive). Some of the apps I have been able to use are mostly games ( very addictive by the way) and our teacher has shown us some cool apps.. including a game for cats! (unbelivable!). I think it´s a great technology to add to an ESL class, either with just the teacher guiding the class with it, or having all students use one at the same time ( if possible). Having book courses in the Ipads would be just great, no need to be carrying around a bunch of papers that I end up losing…
    Hopefully in a few years this technology will become more affordable so all students can enjoy using this technology in their classrooms.
    thank you.

    • Yanina says:

      I agree with you Mony, I wish it wasn’t so expensive so everyone in class had one, we also would have more room to place our staff!!

    • Patricia Bueno Avechuco says:

      Great Mónica, but either way this is something that is here. We have to expect for the price later, they have to be cheaper than now, because more people become addictive to it! Now iPad is the newest in technology but later, who knows?
      Have a nice week!!!

    • Diana Laura Rivera says:

      I agree with you, Moni!! Book courses on iPad is a great idea, it is different to what we are used to. Of course! I really hope in a few years students and teachers have the opportunity to use this technology and improve the quality in teaching languages.

    • Yanina says:

      I agree with you Mony, I wish it wasn’t so expensive so everyone in class could have one.

    • lupicer says:

      I agree about that iPad
      It´s a great article; because you can download many apps that can be useful on whatever you like or need. In the case of students; it helps them to improve their abilities on the topic and what they are learning; as for teachers, it help them to provide material to their students. The Use of iPad reduces the amount of papers; if facilitates the organization of the subjects and also people can add apps with extra information for better and clear information.

    • raquel moran says:

      I’m agree with you, and also I think they are becoming more popular specially for kids because as you say iPads have many games to play and joined with the fact that are easy to use them that is attractive for kds

    • Tamieka de Jong says:

      I totally agree with you about the games being addictive…it can be hard to stop playing!!
      I also agree about the iPad being great for course books. Being able to download them to the iPad will certainly help with carrying books around, students these days have so many books that they carry and it is not good for their health.

      • Jorge Luis Gutiérrez González says:

        I agree with what you say about course books Tamieka, I just would like to add three comments on this same matter. Number one; it had never been so cheap to acquire almost any book on any topic before. Once you taste it, you’ll never give it away. Number two; it had never been so accessible to almost everybody everywhere in the world. A public internet connection, any smartphone (or iPad) and a few second are enough. Number three; the amount of books and material that can be downloaded with iBooks or a similar application is immeasurable, and I mean it. And the best of all… it’s more than enough even if you stick only to the free material, which means everything is LEGAL.

    • Mónica Palomar says:

      Hi Monica Delgadillo. I guess I agree with you on the will to have one of these for me and plenty of them for my students!
      Let’s keep our fingers crossed and start saving some money!
      Bye bye.

    • Alejandra Milonas says:

      Moni, I agree with you. Ipads are expensive and unfortunatly in the place we live we still are having trouble with electricity and connectivity, so the use of ipads it is only for very wealthy schools; it would be great to have the chance to have them at the classroom not like the main tool, but to use it sometimes.

  18. Ale Gallegos says:

    I think you´re right Nik, however technology is becoming more and more common everywhere, so don´t be surprised if in a few years more schools use ipads. Since this is a great tool not only for an ESL class it might be adopted by more schools despite the disadvantages you mentioned which seem little if you comapre them to the vast advantages an ipad has when used in an ESL classroom as a teaching resource.

  19. Diana Laura Rivera says:

    I have tried an iPad but I don’t own one. When I’ve used it I’ve realized it is a great tool in which you can download very useful and interesting apps. iPad offers teachers an innovative alternative for teaching and in this way it is possible to involve students more when learning a new language because they like to use technology and of course, an iPad!
    I haven’t tried many apps but the ones I have had the opportunity to use are apps of flashcards, exercises, quizzes, video, pronunciation, and even games of spelling that are very fun and students can learn many new words.
    Developing materials or course books for the iPad is great. This use of the technology gives a plus to the teaching in ESL classes. There are many advantages, all the tools that can be included in a book, the attractiveness of the material and the interactivity. It is definitely an innovative way to use the technology in benefit of teaching. (:
    Of course, there are some disadvantages, one of them, and I think, the most common, is the price but at the end it’s worth.

    Thank you

  20. Yanina says:

    I totally agree with you!. I think that´s a very good tool for ESL teachers, including books, reading material, interacting with internet, downloading interesting apps, or even working on line at the same time with students it’s great!. Students working in class with an iPad hardly ever get distracted on the Facebook or chat rooms, because teachers may include in their classes videos, music, speaking exercises, or even evaluating students at the moment.
    I personally don’t own an iPad, but my son has an iPod which is similar, it has lots of games, music and internet. It is also “touch” so the screen is sensible and easy to use.
    Unfortunately as you mention in the blog, the cost is too high. Otherwise –however- teachers could ask students to buy one and bring it to class so everyone would be able to enjoy the pleasure of working with and iPad. The risk of “moving it around” is also a difficulty, it could be a good option that schools had it for students to use.

    • Yanina says:

      I totally agree with you!. I think that´s a very good tool for ESL teachers, including books, reading material, interacting with internet, downloading interesting apps, or even working on line at the same time with students it’s great!. Students working in class with an iPad hardly ever get distracted on the Facebook or chat rooms, because teachers may include in their classes videos, music, speaking exercises, or even evaluating students at the moment.
      I personally don’t own an iPad, but my son has an iPod which is similar, it has lots of games, music and internet. It is also “touch” so the screen is sensible and easy to use.
      Unfortunately as you mention in the blog, the cost is too high. Otherwise –however- teachers could ask students to buy one and bring it to class so everyone would be able to enjoy the pleasure of working with and iPad. The risk of “moving it around” is also a difficulty, it could be a good option that schools had it for students to use.

  21. lupicer says:

    iPad is a great article but, I don´t have an iPad, but my nephew has one, and I had observed that he can use it for many things. He downloaded many apps that help him in his job; also he can send any information to his boss when he is far away from his office, and the information is required in that moment.
    Some apps that I found useful are the services of the internet where the user can create things like video, audio, text or graphics on the iPad and post it directly to the web like AudioBoo, that allows the user to record audio on his/her iPad and publish it to a web based blog with a single click
    I have never used an iPad with my students; but I know that students can interact with exercises in mathematics, ordering words, find the missing word; and each time the activities and exercises are more complicated; it depends of the age and the knowledge’s of the person. IPad is a tool for students in high school and university because they can find and download books in an easy and economical way than the traditional one.
    Some pros on the use of the iPad, is that high quality in the screen and with only touching the screen you can operate it without having any other external device like a mouse, it is possible to build interactive exercises in the pages to make the activities more attractive for the students. Students can read books on line; and so students can save a lot of money on books or any other material that they are required to accomplished their activities at school. Students can work collaboratively on texts or exercises; or do speaking activities to practice.
    And some cons on the use of the iPad: It´s expensive, and people have to pay to get some apps, some of them are cheap but others are expensive.
    People have to be careful on the use of iPad because if it fall down it will damage .
    I would like a course delivered on a mobile device, because it’s a way more interesting to read books, or find whatever information in this resource.

  22. Tamieka de Jong says:

    Thanks for the article, it has some excellent comments, especially the part where students can be controlled with what they are doing on the iPad, they are unable to check social network sites without the teaching knowing.
    I have used my sisters iPad and love using it. It is so easy and simple to use…and all with the touch of a finger, no need for mouses or keyboards. That is what really appeals to me.
    The apps that I have used have mainly been games but I have also tried some English learning apps that are great. There is a huge variety of English learning apps out there for all different levels and ages. For this reason, there are many apps that could be used in an ESL classroom, either as a group, in pair work or individually. I have used my computer in my ESL classroom and there is always a period of time for it to start up and connecting, which takes time out of the lesson. With the iPad it would be so much easier and faster to show presentations.
    The main problem with the iPad is the cost, they are very expensive and a lot of schools cannot afford to buy them. But, hopefully in a few years this will become possible for the schools and will be able to enhance ESL classrooms more.

  23. Mónica Palomar says:

    Wow!!! iPad, the latest thing! Thanks for the information, this article gave me a clearer idea of what an iPad is and the comments did as well.
    Lately, I’ve been learning a lot about technology in the classroom and my thoughts that the world is out there and not in here have changed. Now I see that the world is out there and a lot of it is IN HERE as well.
    I teach at a public school in Mexico and this information has made me remember a phrase I read somewhere: “The only limits are, as always, those of vision”.
    I hope one day all teachers in public schools will be able to work with them but more that the disadvantages of the costs is the disadvantage of vision. We need training, most of all, and a flexible mind. Sometimes this is harder to get than the money!
    THANKS AGAIN!

    • Margarita Ma. González Videgaray says:

      Mónica:

      I agree with you. I also work in Mexico and I have seen in several schools that they have very nice computers and they don’t use them a lot, most of the times the computer class becomes the moment for the students to use freely the computer, students paint or watch videos that don’t help to their education.
      I think it´s very important for all of us to keep studying and learning, to be open minded and take all the advantages these changes can bring to us.

  24. Alejandra Milonas says:

    Very interesting!
    My sister owns an Ipad and we don´t know how to use it, She was saying, she was a litlte bit dissapointed because she couldn´t do many things, we use it basically to play and to listen to music, and yes to get into the social networks. As a teacher and trying to take advantage of this amazing tool, I try to find useful applications to use them at least in my lesson planning. I work with very young children and I have found they find it very very easy to use it, it seems they have been in touch with ipads since they were born, in some way this is true. Ipads are very attractive, much more than a boring book, but we have to learn how to use them at classroom, to have a real purpose.

    • Caro Leon says:

      I agree with you! if you don’t know how to use it properly the iPad becomes just a big iPod, so you need to make sure that you can really take advantaje of it. The same thing happens with my students, they know how to use it very, very well and that makes it easier for us as teachers to work with it in our classrooms, becuase your students already are related to it.

    • Aly says:

      Hello Alejandra!!
      I work with little kids too, and it is so easy to use it with them because they are not expecting so much, and they understand and learn how to use the technology so fast, the thing here is that if we don´t know how much is it in this gadget we have to make a little or alot of research to know and find out about the apps it has, but you will find it eventually I have found so many and so interesting with a teaching purpose, off course!! =D regards!!

  25. Sandra C. Dueñes says:

    Nik,

    Thank you for letting us see some light on technology in the classroom but I think we still have a long way before we go high tech in the ELT classroom.

    The price of an IPad is still pretty high and it seems like every year there is a new version. I agree with Caroline Moore. She said that universities and affluent schools could benefit by saving on infrastructure and books. I currently work in an affluent school and I’ve noticed that about 20% of my students already own iPads. I observe that they usually use it for leisure and not an academic purpose. The problem is how will I get my own. On my salary; I doubt it.

    If I had an iPad, I would try to find and app that could help me organize and complete my grade log automatically. This would save me alot of time. But at the same time us teachers need to think of how and what we are teaching. We need to be careful on not making every thing automized. We must include the 4 skills in our lessons. Can an iPad grade writing? Will this narrow the students’ creativity? We have to remember that there is always more than one answer to a single questions.

    Sandra C. Dueñes
    ADELT Student, Ags, Mex.

  26. Caro Leon says:

    I do own an iPad and I like it so much! At the beggining I had to learn how to use it and how to take full advantage on it, because for mi was just a big iPod. Now that I’ve tried it for a few months I realize that is an excellent tool to use with your students. In my case I have kindergarden students, and obviously they don’t own one, but their parents do, so if I use it in class to show them images, or some eBooks they can easily find the same ones at home and they can relate to them and to this device.
    Another disadvantage that I found is that not all the websites aloud you to work with them from your iPad, and that is important because you need to be able to use everything you need. Also some youTube videos are not avilable for movil devices and you cannot watch them from your iPad.
    But over all I think is an excellent tool for teaching if you really learn how to use it properly.

  27. Antonio Díaz says:

    Nik,

    I think Ipads are showing more pros than cons, because with the implementation of these gadgets to ELT, students can get engaged easier and there are many resources on the web for both students and teachers. Not deforetation anymore!!!

    But the cons would be, the Ipads were accesible to all the students, software and applications too. And a one good option would be that developers might build softwares for us, where teachers which were able to design their own material taking advantage of images or data supported on web applications or softwares.

    Thank you

  28. Aly says:

    Hello!! well in my case I love Ipads, I find it so amazing a few years before we never imagined something like this device, something so advanced and usefull, I had one and I wanna to change it for the new one, I haven´t but I still want to, the thing is that I only used it for games and moves and to read books, but Ifind outabout very nice apps, like; iPDF reader free, for free books, Dragon dictation to write the messege insted of typing, Go to the metting, to online mettings, and so much more, but I have never used it for teaching purposes, but I know that there is a lot of resources and apps for that goal. I´m definitely thinking of working with it for teaching!! =)

  29. Jorge Luis Gutiérrez González says:

    I don’t own an iPad, but I have used one once in a while. I’m mostly a computer user. What I use very often is an iPhone, and it has everything an iPad has, except for the size. iPads are amazing, and the potential is even better. I think the best is yet to come. One thing that amazes me about technology is that it gets better or gets replaced by a more powerful tool in a relatively short period of time. What I mean is that the computer wasn’t completely being used in the classroom when the iPad started to displace it.
    The list of advantages is long, I agree with you about it Nik. The list of disadvantages is a lot shorter than first one, I also agree with you about that, but I consider there’s a problem bigger than the prize, and it’s the lack of experienced teachers in the use of technology in an ESL classroom and the FEAR it provokes.

    • Martha Graciela Posadas Navarro says:

      I definitely agree on what you wrote: after making an effort to buy the device, the difficult part is to get over the fear it causes!!

  30. Alberto López Esparza says:

    From the great variety of teaching tools currently available for teachers, this is probably the less explored and used resource, at least for Mexican schools. I have never use an IPad for teaching a class. In fact, I just recently “tested” a couple of the applications in one, and yes, it offers a huge variety of information that can lead into a much more complete learning experience. I was fascinated with the fact that users can record their own voice. For teachers and students of English, this is a great device that may help in the development of better pronunciation skills; additionally, people in general feel more comfortable each time with the fact of manipulating any kind of information by touching screens. The possibility of recording parts of a class, or to interact with classmates and teacher while having a learning activity inside or outside the classroom, must be considered as a sign of modern ways of Education.
    Still, I agree with what Mr. Peachey regarding the disadvantages; there are few, but some may be huge. Initially, if you are a teacher that tries to be “in” while dealing with technology in the classroom, it implies more than just buying the device; it requires a previous knowledge of how to operate it, what features will enhance the learning experience, and even what kind of problems, technical or of a different kind, may appear while using it; the lesson plan must include the tasks for which Ipad is helpful; and there must be control of possible distractions.
    Costs, and the lack of vision from certain schools, may also be disadvantages.
    Having said that, I think the tool is there, right now. And its use is increasing. 20 years ago it was almost a dream to think of having individual computers (and all the benefits they bring to education themes), so why not envisioning the use of Ipads in most classrooms sooner than later?

  31. Ana Maura Casillas Ortiz says:

    I totally agree how you guide and analyze the benefits and complications in the use of Ipads in the classrooms . It is really a profitable tool according to the huge variety of apps that Ipads offer in order to learn a second language. You are firmly aware that it must be used instead of PC’ s and laptops. You must take into account the big investment that schools, parents and teachers have to do. I am not really sure if they will have this financial capacity despite of Ipads attractiveness.

  32. Margarita Ma. González Videgaray says:

    Hello Nik Peachey:
    I agree with you, technology little by little is getting into the schools, even though computers are expensive, now we can not believe that there is a school without one. Why? Because they worth it.
    I don’t have an iPad, but it would be wonderful for me if I would work with one. We all know that learning a language requieres the development of the four skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing; and that it’s very important the immediate correction of the mistakes and, according to what I have read about iPads, you can have all of these things with them.
    Another benefit I can see with this gadget is that it could attend the needs of the different learning styles: students can see, listen, touch, write, draw, etc. They can record their voices or make videos. So, at the same time that they are learning a language they can increase their self esteem and learn to use the different apps of the iPad.
    But it´s very important that teachers learn how to use the iPads in order to really take all the advantages it can offer, because otherwise, it could be used simply as an ebook
    Some years ago I had a student with visual problems and he needed a book with bigger font size, with an iPad we could solve the problem.
    On the other hand, I have three kids and they are having problems carrying their heavy bookbags, I hope that technology will help to stop this problem.

    • Fatima Varela says:

      Teachers have the hard work of making students to understand the world to make it a better place. Knowledge is about understanding how we are and what we can do. There for it is important to teach our students to “know to learn” by themselves. This is an important issue where iPads take place in Education because they can solve some learning problems, just as you said Maggy.

  33. Martha Graciela Posadas Navarro says:

    Dear Nik:
    I don´t own an ipod but I´ve had the opportunity to browse through one and have to say that the experience was impactful. With just a soft touch on the screen you can listen to stories, record your voice, acquire vocabulary, listen to the pronunciation of letters, words or sentences; create multimedia presentations, listen to current news, translate phrases and sentences.
    I´ve never had the chance to use one with students but I bet they would be very excited to read a story on one, and also have the chance to get the definition of any word they did not know. Learners could also enjoy the occasion to record the lesson and later be able to play it back as many times as they´d like.
    But talking about the cons, I have to say that what worries me is that when we use a gadget like this, kids (and adults) can become voluntarily isolated. It seems people tend to be more interested in information or individuals that are not present at the time. Their lives go on while they´re immerse somewhere else.
    Also what´s scary is what students are learning while working with this kind of novelty; I´m talking about ipads, laptops, iphones, etc. While using this devices, they´re picking up the idea that they deserve to have immediate satisfaction.
    In any case I would prefer a mobile device instead of a book, paper has been reliable for centuries and its smell and weight is incomparable!
    Kind regards,
    Martha Graciela Posadas Navarro

  34. Fatima Varela says:

    Dear Nik:

    Technology in the classroom is a great opportunity to enhance students to keep working and be involved in their own learning process. Besides, iPads help students to organize their notes all in one place, homework can be uploaded into virtual dropboxes and each subject can be confined into an individual desktop folder.
    Unfortunately, iPads are not cheap and there´s always the worry that a careles student would accidentally break one. In my opinion, iPads can also be a potential distractor for students

  35. Nik Peachey says:

    It’s great to see so many comments here and thank you all for reading and getting involved in this debate. I wrote this article quite a few years ago now and I think the arguments in favour of using iPads or some form of light weight tablet device have become even more compelling since then and as I travel round delivering training for these tools I increasingly find that they are more than just a substitute for a PC, but in so many respects work much better. I’ll try to find time to write a new article soon sharing a few of my more recent reflections, but until then many thanks for adding your voice and your opinions to this debate.
    Best
    Nik Peachey

  36. Jonathan says:

    Nik, the article is a bit old as you mentioned. Now, it’s not just the ipad that is useful. The ipad is getting smaller and mobile phones are getting bigger. I think you could write something on using the mobile smart phone in ELT as very soon almost everyone would have a pretty decent sized mobile smart phone and that could be extremely valuable in ELT.

    Cheers!

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