Con: Does iMats Really Enhance Education?

Rebecca Gluck, Staff Writer

At the start of the 2012-2013 school year, Miramonte introduced iMats, the iPad pilot program. While the program is aimed at creating a more student-centered and innovative class experience, it is no more conducive to learning than classes without iPads.
The iMats program allows students in certain classes to check out iPads for the school year. The curriculum is essentially the same as other classes, but the iPads are used daily in class and at home as tools for research, projects, and notetaking.
Miramonte’s website states that a networked iPad provides students the opportunity to “have the world at their fingertips.” This is precisely the issue. Students have unlimited access to the internet, apps, and messaging on iPads. The teacher is unable to control each student’s use of the iPad to make sure it’s being used appropriately because the iPads are allowed to be out for the most part. It’s not surprising that many are tempted to use these during class, but it compromises their learning experience as well as that of others.
Most members of the iMats program from the 2012-2013 year admit to playing the once-popular Bike Race and Dragon Vale games to pass time in class. This may be fun at times, but it causes students to miss out on important class discussions and distracts others around them.
Most students already own smartphones and spend enough time on them. It’s unhealthy to introduce into school another device that does the same thing as a phone and is equally as addicting.
In addition to the never-ending craze of new games, students can download their favorite social media apps as well as chat via the iPad. These applications divert students’ attention away from what is being taught.
There are also unpredictable technological problems that arise with iMats. iPads can crash at any moment. Fixing a faulty iPad is not the kind of problem-solving that students should be taught in school. The time saved from having the iPad on hand to work on schoolwork is completely diminished if it crashes and loses all of the student’s hard work.
Countless studies have proved that physically handwriting information down helps individuals to remember the information better. When students type notes on iPads, they aren’t getting the benefit of this, and it can reflect in their test scores and ability to remember information.
The price to pay for losing an iPad is $560, including the case. A student can only do so much to keep the iPad safe and to be accountable for it. Accidents are bound to happen, no matter how careful the student is.
iMats is a good idea in theory. It allows students to apply their creativity and to learn in a more personalized way, but the program fails to engage students in education and instead facilitates distractions and encourages technological difficulties.