Educators are realizing the potential of the iPad to be a game-changer in the classroom.

Starting kindergarten is a milestone in a kid’s life as it signifies the start of formal education. But as of next fall, this rite of passage will no longer be just about crayons, building blocks, and nap time. At least not in Auburn, Maine. With bold foresight (or fiscal irresponsibility, depending on who you ask), the city school committee recently voted to provide brand-new iPads for all incoming kindergarten students in the fall! The program is expected to cost approximately $200,000 and city officials are confident that it will be a good way to not only boost literacy rates, but also help students stay more engaged with the class lessons. And since the iPad is entirely operated via a touchscreen, it’s a rather intuitive way for kindergarteners to interact with the various learning programs being developed to teach them everything from numbers and letters to shapes and colors. Check out the video below which highlights some of the advantages of using iPads with younger students.

While this video was taken at the Pingry School in New Jersey, not in Auburn, Maine, you can see how both students and teachers seem excited about all the opportunities!

Keep in mind that bringing iPads into the classroom is not a new idea. Publishers have already begun offering electronic versions of textbooks to be used specifically with tablet computers and some colleges have developed iPad loan programs where students use and return the devices at the end of the semester. But bringing the iPad to the youngest of students may actually make more sense. A study conducted at the University of Notre Dame found that while many college students liked using iPads in class, they found it difficult to do some basic tasks like taking notes easily. Also, with older students, the distractions offered by Facebook and email are sometimes too much to resist when using the iPad in class. However, this type of issue isn’t likely to come up in kindergarten and as more learning programs become available, it’s possible that iPads (and to be fair, other tablets) could revolutionize the way the next generation of students learn about the world around them.

Sources: Wired, Forbes, Apple
[Image credits: iPad’n Gravy]
[Video credits: The Pingry School]