Technology in the Classroom: Does it hinder hands-on experiences?

riaaaqqxtWith the rise of technology, it is no surprise that the education system has incorporated and invested in many devices for their classrooms. Perhaps the most popular technological device used in classroom environments is the iPad. This device is able to provide thousands of applications to children as they learn through an interactive experience. Early learning environments are effective when children are provided opportunities to learn through hands-on experiences. It is no surprise that children learn best through play, rather then continuous table work. However, the question that many educators are wondering is if the rise of iPads in the classroom decreases children’s motivation to participate in hands-on experiences.

In an article entitled Touch Tablet Surprises: A Preschool Teacher’s Story Cassandra Mattoon explores the idea of balancing iPads and hands-on experiences in the classroom. Overall, she noticed that when iPads were an ordinary material in the classroom the fascination of them declined which resulted in children’s equal attention to both technology and hands-on experiences. Just like toys, when the initial “newness” of a material is over children are less likely to find the desire to spend the majority of their day with that material as they find new activities to participate in.

From placement experience, iPads are not an everyday material in the classroom because the devices are shared among the school. Because of this, whenever the teacher is able to bring the devices to class the children devote all of their attention to the iPads forgetting about the other activities in the classroom. The children also become less social as they are focused on their individual device rather then sharing their experience with their peers. Furthermore, I noticed when my supervising teacher attempts to conclude the children’s time with the iPads to transition to a new activity many of the children experience difficulty giving up the iPad. After, the children appear to be less interested in participating in hands-on experiences.

However, what I would suggest to alleviate this struggle is keeping one or two iPads available in the classroom on an everyday basis. By doing this, the initial newness will begin to fade as the children realize this device  is an everyday material. Not only will the children be more apt to explore their environment by finding new activities to participate in, but by only providing a few devices they are more likely to collaborate on the iPads with their peers, thus facilitating social development.

Now, many educators may continue to believe that iPads in the classroom hinder hands-on experiences. However, if these devices are used appropriately iPads can be used to supplement hands-on learning. Take this video as an example. This kindergarten class was able to learn a an abundance of information about butterflies in an outdoor environment, as well as inside the classroom with their iPads. The children were able to take the information they collected outside and collect it onto their iPads, such as pictures and videos. They were able to share the information with their class in a large group setting. I also enjoyed watching how the educator provided social opportunities as the children worked together on one device. The iPad was a supplement in this learning experience as the children were simply not instructed to search facts on the internet, but rather take the device into the environment.



There are also other activities that educators can facilitate in the classroom that uses iPads as a supplementary tool for hands on experiences. For instance…

  • How to Make Origami is an interactive app that provides children step by step instructions on how to make origami. Children are exposed to technology but also participate in the hands-on fine motor experience of creating their own origami pieces!
  • Have the class read a story, and then test their knowledge using an online quiz you created! Socrative  allows educators to to provide real-time questioning which provides insight on the level of understanding for each child. This experience provides an alternative for traditional paper and pencil quizzes as children are provided with a new medium to show their knowledge
  • Compose Yourself provides children with a hands-on experience of creating melodies as they are able to take music notes that are physically available, and hear the melody online. By doing this, they are able to rearrange their notes to create a song. This teaches children how to arrange musical notes to create a desirable sound

Those were just a short list of the endless options that you can facilitate in your classroom to use iPads as a supplement to hands-on learning. Have fun learning 🙂



Technology in the Classroom: Does it hinder hands-on experiences?

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