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iPads Are Here To Stay

In February, 2012, Academy’s seventh-grade started a one-to-one iPad program. That upper school students will follow suit remains to be seen, although, iPads may be integrated sooner than expected.

At the beginning of last year, the Middle and Upper School had iPad carts. Some teachers could book these for classroom use, but they were very underutilized. The technology department decided to compile all these iPads and test something it had been looking at for years: a one-to-one program. In early February, seventh grade students got their own iPads. This was meant to be a trial to see if the school wanted to do an official pilot next year and decide if it wanted to go one-to-one.

The trial succeeded much faster than expected, with every teacher utilizing them daily. Mrs. Peterson “flipped” her classroom, with students studying the lecture notes on Moodle at home and then working on practice worksheets in class. She had students “checkout” when they finished a worksheet, projecting their work on the SmartBoard through Apple TV on the iPads. Peterson says this gave her much more individual time with students and allowed each child to work at his or her own pace.

Similarly, Dr. B. has integrated iPads into his class. Students are sent worksheets through the iPad, and they must complete these using an online textbook and notes. They send these back to Dr. B., who can grade them directly on the iPad and send them back instantly. Students can also use the iPad to form study groups with their classmates and take group notes. They can film, draw, and type on the iPad. Mr. Cullinan notes, “They could do that without the iPad, but it’s a tool that lends itself to an efficient and group oriented environment.”

The technology department has been looking into one-to-one laptop programs in other schools for about twelve years, but iPads are a fairly new idea. The problem with laptops: they are isolating. “When students would open their laptops, it would become a barrier between the students and everything else happening in the classroom,” Mr. Cullinan says of laptop one-to-one programs he has seen in other schools. iPads are small enough to set on a desk while students work on other things, and they even allow students to interact more with digital notes and worksheets stored in Apple’s “cloud,” so they cannot be lost.

So the big question is, if everyone liked the iPads so much last year, when will we see them in the Upper School? Last year’s program was meant to be a trial to see if the school wanted to even consider a pilot this year. But things moved pretty fast when the seventh grade really enjoyed working with the iPads. “The way it’s turning out, our eighth grade faculty and our seventh grade families have already told us you can’t send our seventh grade going into eighth grade students without iPads,” Mr. Cullinan said. Last year’s seventh grade brought their iPads with them to eighth grade, so next year, they may bring them into the Upper School.

Apple consultants told the faculty who attended a Chicago conference about the iPads that it would be much easier to introduce iPads to the entire Upper School, not just one grade, because classes are so mixed that it would be difficult for teachers to really utilize the tool.  Many roadblocks may exist in to getting to that point, but the school is headed in the right direction with the newest technology and tools for students.

Written by Kendall Silwonuk’15


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