High school newspaper story:
As technology advances, so do school classrooms. Just two years ago textbooks were an ordinary part of being a student. Classrooms today are quickly moving away from actual books and closer to technology. It has become common to see a cart of iPads stored in several classrooms at Bellevue West, alongside the typical shelf of textbooks.
The main question is: Will using iPads over textbooks be more beneficial to students in the long run?
“I think using the iPads is more beneficial because in the technology age textbooks are going to be more of a thing of the past. It’s very cost effective,” science teacher Wade McVey said.
Spanish teacher Carli Rhylander enjoys having iPads in class, with the exception of the technology not working correctly.
“I think there are pros and cons of having iPads, because sometimes technology doesn’t work all of the time, so there can be frustrating parts with that. So far I think the students have really enjoyed it and I am having fun coming up with different ideas of what to do in class,” Rhylander said.
The process of changing from textbooks to iPads proved to be easier than anticipated. Students and teachers enjoyed trying something new.
“It’s nice because I no longer have to make copies for my class. At first we had to go a little bit slower in class because I had to teach the students how to use the apps and how to use them for class. Now that they know how to do those things our class goes by a little bit faster,” McVey said.
Junior Kim Gau agrees it did take time getting all students on the same page, but since technology is so popular, many attributes of the iPad were familiar.
“At first it was kind of hard to get used to, but I have an iPhone so I knew how to work the iPad for the most part. Getting used to actually having to work on the iPad was kind of hard and lots of people can get distracted easily,” Gau said.
Having iPads incorporated with student learning has challenged teachers. Switching from basic lessons from the textbook to interactive learning with the iPads changes the whole organization of classroom activities.
“The use of iPads has brought back my creativity in teaching. I feel like I can do a lot more project-based type learning and have more freedom in the classroom with the students,” Rhylander said.
Not only is it important that the iPads fit the best interests of teachers and students, it’s important what role this technology plays in student learning. Spanish classes use the iPads to become more familiar with words and phrases.
“We have done some different projects like telling the difference between words. We also do activities where I kind of explain what something is, and the students get to choose how they are going to show that they have learned the concept,” Rhylander said.
The science classes use the iPads for hands on activities, such as making videos and presentations.
“With the iPads, students will make stop motion videos, make projects like Power Point where they can add sound and video, take notes, and have interactive lab reports,” McVey said.
There hasn’t been a significant number of complaints about iPads not working properly, but with any form of technology nothing will be perfect.
“I haven’t really experienced any problems with the iPads, I think the hardest part is when new students are added into the class and we have to get them set up with Google Drive and all of the apps we have already done with having accounts,” Rhylander said.
It’s obvious teachers enjoy teaching with the iPads for many different reasons, but what is important is how the students feel about them.
“My favorite part about using the iPads is everything is so accessible when you’re using them, and you can do more projects. You have a nice variety of things to choose from,” Gau said.
Junior Morgan Hanson agrees, noting how not using pen and paper is beneficial to her learning.
“I like using the iPads in class because you don’t have to use paper and a notebook to write down notes and you can take pictures of things to look at later on if you have to,” Hanson said.
From watching students use the iPads, Rhylander has noticed more learning going on in her classroom as well as better behavior from her students.
“So far I think the students have liked it, there’s obviously some changes they are getting used to, like not having paper or pencil all of the time, but so far they have really enjoyed it,” Rhylander said
McVey has noticed the same behaviors in his science classroom as well.
“They really enjoy iPads because it’s more interactive and it’s something different they don’t have in other classrooms. I haven’t had a kid be tardy to seventh hour since we have gotten the iPads because students really enjoy coming to class,” McVey said.