Maine kindergartners to get iPads

May 3, 2011

We could hardly blame you if you want to move to Maine.

And go back to kindergarten.

That’s because last month, the Auburn, Maine, school district announced that it would give Apple iPad 2s to its nearly 300 kindergartners in the fall.

The students are just the latest around the country to get the touchpad computers to help them learn ABCs, 1-2-3s, drawing and even music.

Schools Superintendent Tom Morrill calls the iPad “a revolution in education.” But others question whether spending $200,000 for kids young enough to use flashcards and fingerpaints is a good idea.

“I understand you have to keep up with technology, but I think a 5-year-old is a little too young to understand,” said Sue Millard, a Maine mother with children in fourth grade and high school.

Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller wouldn’t talk about how iPads are being used in schools, but dozens of school districts around the country have been giving iPads to students. Schools in Nebraska, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, South Carolina and Arizona are among the places where kindergartners are using them.

Maine was the first state to give students statewide computers when it distributed Apple laptops to all seventh- and eighth-graders in 2002.

Angus King, the former Maine governor who launched the state’s laptop program, said the idea of iPads in kindergarten wows him. Anything that holds the attention of pupils will help in the learning process, he said.

“If your students are engaged, you can teach them anything,” King said.

But there’s no real evidence that technology helps kids learn better, and educators say it’s still important for young students to use three-dimensional objects such as blocks or books.

Auburn’s Morrill says that too much of anything can be a bad thing.

“I’m not saying they should be on this 24-7,” he said. “The students still need to move, get up, dance, socialize.”

— Associated Press

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