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Eye On Education: iPads Being Used In Cambridge First Grade Class

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV
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BOSTON (CBS) — iPads have become an increasingly common site in schools, particularly with older students.

A professor from Lesley University in Cambridge is examining if the popular tablets can improve learning in much younger students as well.

There are many engaged first graders at the Kennedy Longfellow School in Cambridge. Much of that has to do with the fact they are handing out electronics, instead of taking them away.

First grader Jacob Hernandez said it is fun to use the iPad as he learns math and the difference between right and left.

Assistant professor Sue Cusack believes technology needs to be introduced to children early in academic settings. High school is “very much too late,” she added.

“Part of our model is to have them start exploring the use of technology, not as a substitute for paper and pencil tasks, but to use technology to promote creative and critical thinking,” explained Cusack.

Putting electronics in schools comes at a time when many parents worry their kids are already spending too much time in front of screens. Cusack responded, “There are a lot of good reasons to introduce children to technology. The key is balance, and appropriate integration.”

Ernesto Gianola, a software engineer and parent, comes into the classroom to volunteer his expertise. “I didn’t get started until the 5th grade, so I think the earlier better, as long as the problems are not too hard.”

Cusack doesn’t think technology shouldn’t replace other teaching tools, but should complement them. “I see it as a plus. We have paper and pencil, and we also have these other tools we can work with.”

“Digital Inclusion” is also on Cusack’s mind. She says it is very important to make sure all students are receiving the same level of exposure to technology so that no one falls behind at an early age.

If you have an Eye on Education story that features something great going on in your school system, let WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben know about it.

Contact Paula on Twitter @PaulaEbbenWBZ, or by email. You can also leave a note in the comment section below.

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