Is the iPad the most efficient way for me to teach this right now?
According to a 2011 article in the New York Times, “recent research makes it clear that young children learn a lot more efficiently from real interactions — with people and things — than from situations appearing on video screens.”
The key word there is “efficiently.” As special educators, we are frequently working with students who are one or more years behind their typically developing peers. Efficient teaching is of the highest priority for us. So every time I introduce the iPad as a teaching tool, I have to ask myself “Is the iPad the most efficient way for me to teach this right now?” Frequently the answer is no, this should be taught with actual manipulatives such as blocks; or no, my student needs to learn how to count his money from his wallet, not from a flat screen; or no, my student needs to engage in an activity that encourages interaction instead of singular focus on a screen.
I may use the iPad in my practice, but I use it for a very small portion of each session. Many of the apps I recommend on this site are apps that I use as reinforcement or for breaks. So, for example, my student will work for ten minutes, then I will provide a one minute break with an app that practices skills we have been working on or have already been mastered. The child is motivated, their use of the iPad is monitored, and I can get a sense of whether or not they have generalized the skill to other materials.
So when is it the most efficient way? The only time I use the iPad to introduce a new skill is if my student has a LOW motivation to attempt the new skill, then I quickly move on to other materials. Otherwise, I only use the iPad for generalization, maintenance, and reinforcement. I’d love to hear when you use your iPad with students.
This week is iPad Week here at Teach Through. Every day we will be looking at one aspect of using the iPad in teaching students with special needs.