The following is some text that I have been working with surrounding the possible use of the iPad in for English Language Learners. I would love anyone’s feedback and input on this topic. While the language is brief it is geared toward a potential grant opportunity.
Language acquisition (regardless of first or second language) is an intimate process and unfortunately the majority of technology is not always intimate. However, the form factor of a device that an individual holds in his or her hands, like the iPad, makes learning with this device very intimate. Learning will be a tactile, tangible interaction because an ELL student will be touching the actual information as opposed to a keyboard or other input method. Additionally, from a classroom environment standpoint, the immediacy of information in a non-threatening, non-disruptive manner is key in comprehension for ELL students. The iPad’s form factor, being a single slate design, does not create a physical barrier between the teacher and the ELL student and thus provides a more open learning environment. Another positive feature is the iPad’s operating system which allows only a single application can be open at a time minimizing possible distractions.
The overriding objective in providing the iPad, as opposed to a different computing platform, is to provide ELL students with current technology that will allow them to access thousands of learning applications. This access will positively impact their English language acquisition in ways that would not be afforded to them on conventional computing devices. For example, with the opening of the iBookstore by Apple, over 30,000 free books and novels will be available to the iPad via Project Gutenberg. The unique ability of the iPad is that it allows students and instructors to the newest and most advanced applications that are being developed every day. Beyond the multitude of iPad exclusive opportunities, students will also be able to leverage the iPad to enhance their learning with the iPad’s ability to access a standard suite of learning tools such as: translation applications, PLATO instructional software for English, reading and mathematics, internet for research purposes, words processing and presentation software, and to obtain the necessary 21st Century skills needed to be successful inside and outside of the traditional educational settings. Being that the iPad is a fully immersive technology, it will ultimately help ELL students to have a piece of technology which will allow them to interact without language barriers and become more competitive in an advancing digital world.