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iPad 2 in kindergarten classrooms: A good idea?

Schools are excited about putting the Apple iPad into classrooms. But how young is too young?

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"We lose a lot of kids through the education system over time,” said Sandra Calvert, a professor and director of the Children's Digital Media Center at Georgetown University.

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"If you start them young with innovative technology and keep them engaged, it's the way to go. There will be some changes in how teachers will go about incorporating these new platforms, but overall, it will be a very profound tool if used properly."

One of the major challenges teachers face is catering content to each student in a classroom filled with different skill levels. With the help of educational software on the iPad 2, teachers can oversee and pick programs and levels based on the skills a student needs.

"The iPad 2 can cater specifically to each child's needs, strengths and weaknesses, and that has tremendous potential for improving the overall learning experience," Calvert said.

However, Calvert stressed that technology like this should not replace or undermine the importance of a good teacher.

"There's a human emotional response that is a part of learning, too," Calvert said. "Kids develop relationships with teachers and there is a sense of warmth and encouragement that comes with that, too. Computers can be fun and engaging, but it's not the same experience as interacting with a real person."

Superintendent Morrill said that people shouldn’t fear that the new iPad implementation will replace teachers in the future.

"The human element will never leave the formula because education is still a human business," Morrill said. "This will just provide an opportunity to spend more focus time on developing projects, helping students overcome certain challenges and give teachers new ways to custom teach."

How young is too young?

Although Seton Hall University in New Jersey welcomed incoming students with new iPads last year and middle school students in parts of Singapore have traded school books for e-books read on the iPad, this will be one of the first times students at such a young age in U.S. will be given the high-tech devices.

But some believe people of any age, especially kindergartners, are good candidates to use the iPad 2, which is even (as of today) now available for purchase at Toys R Us.

"Kindergartners are not too young for the iPad — in fact, it's an ideal platform for them," Calvert said. "This age group can use their hands, grow fine motor skills and not have to worry about moving a mouse as they would on a traditional desktop computer. Since an iPad is so light and intuitive to use, their focus can be on the educational content and not the hardware."