Re: modern technology @dz-015
The amount of 'learning' necessary to get an iPad working is minimal. The one good thing about what Apple have done is to make it so any fool can use one with little to no training. And even if they did not have one provided by the school, a large majority of kids will learn transferable skills from their own devices. If there is any benefit, it will be having a standardized device for distributing learning material, but there are other probably for more practical and better value devices for this.
Owning a tablet myself, I can understand that using a media consumption device may be useful, but I actually don't find it very useful for my work, because of the difficulty of getting information on and off because of the (very sensible) security policies of where I work. Schools would be no different, especially when you use such a controlled device as an iPad without some sort of relaxation of the restrictions. So unless you categorize learning as another type of consuming media (maybe it is), I find that the overall value of providing iPads is poor compared to other uses for the money.
Over the years, I've seen technological aids used in teaching, using slide and film projectors, television, video-recorders, audio tape based language, micro-film and fiche based interactive courses and finally various generations of computer based training. But do they work better than a good teacher and appropriate books? I'm not sure, and I think back to the most memorable years of school when a sometimes boring subject was brought to life by a capable and enthusiastic teacher with nothing more than a blackboard and text books.
Give the kids an appropriate understanding of how they (computing devices) work, together with the correct amount of other real life skills (reading, writing, basic maths, contemporary history, nutrition), and that will be a much better use of time and resource.
I am still waiting for the delivery of the promise of natural language recognition combined with Artificial Intelligence (always 5 years away for the last 30 or so) that will make interacting with your information system like interacting with another person. When we get this, all this crap about learning how to use a computing device will become obsolete, and we can go back to learning useful knowledge rather than teaching the current in-vogue fad!