This year Pres has experienced many changes, including the new building and our very own Instagram, but by far the most impactful change on all students and teachers has been the introduction of a one-to-one program with the iPads.
As the conclusion of the school’s first year with iPads approaches, The Voice interviewed different people around campus about their experience with the iPads in order to gain a better perspective of how successful this program was and what can be done to improve it next year.
Teacher perspective: Mrs. Colvin
Voice: Do you think the iPad enhanced the learning of your students this year?
Colvin: I definitely do. I think it helps with everything because as a teacher you can differentiate how you teach and it makes learning more accessible to students with different preferences on how they learn. It allows you to provide so many more resources.
Voice: What was your favorite academic app to use during classes?
Colvin: I love Socrative. Every day in Bio 1 I used a Socrative quiz for the question of the day.
Voice: When your students take notes, do you notice a majority typing or handwriting them?
Colvin: Most students take notes on the iPad; very few students take handwritten notes. A lot of students download the PowerPoint and then they can just sit, listen and participate during the lecture.
Voice: Did you often find students distracted during class due to the iPads?
Colvin: Usually this is not an issue, but ever so often there is a student doing something else, but for the most part I don’t think they are. I think part of the reason for that is that I teach differently with the iPad because I lecture a lot less so it frees me to walk around a little more.
Voice: Do you think there is anything that needs to be altered in the iPad next year?
Colvin: I think I can personally explore more ways to use it in the classroom and that probably goes for all teachers. I think it can be used even more effectively and there is always room for growth.
Voice: Would you be happy to see a continuation of the iPad program?
Colvin: Definitely, I would never go back to a classroom without iPads.
Voice: Would you like for your students to have textbooks on your iPad?
Colvin: Yes, the Bio 1 textbook is amazing on the iPad. It’s interactive and lets students do self quizzes so I would like more textbooks like that to be available and on the iPad. I do know some textbooks aren’t available in an interactive way so I think the textbook companies need to get on board with more digital education because so much more can be done in textbooks on the iPad.
Voice: Do you have any advice you have for teachers that are struggling to use the iPad in the classroom setting?
Colvin: Start small, pick something that you already do and see if you can substitute the iPad for it. Don’t be afraid of it.
Voice: Did you have your students take tests or quizzes on the iPad?
Colvin: I haven’t done any graded tests on the iPad because I still haven’t found out how to effectively monitor that. I need to explore new ways to write tests so it wouldn’t matter if the students went out of the app. I am still figuring out the best way to do that and I would like to try it out eventually.
Voice: Do you think that all teachers should be using Canvas next year?
Colvin: I am guilty, I haven’t switched over yet, but I am planning on figuring it out this summer. I think that next year all the teachers should be on Canvas because it is going to make the student’s lives so much easier.
Student perspective: Junior Helena Grant
Voice: Do you think the iPad enhanced your learning this year?
Grant: I do not think that the iPads has enhanced my learning this year because teachers have started to rely too heavily on the iPads to teach their students and that causes students to have to do a lot of the learning by themselves.
Voice: Do you want the iPad program to continue?
Grant: Yes, I do want the program to continue because it is nice to have everything for school on one device and it is more portable than a laptop. Also, I think you can do a lot more in class with the iPad when taking notes and do activities than you can with paper.
Voice: What was your favorite academic app that teachers used?
Grant: Canvas because it is so well organized.
Voice: Did you do all your homework on the iPad?
Grant: I did most of my homework on the iPad, but I used my laptop for big writing assignments.
Voice: Did you take notes on the iPad?
Grant: Yes, I used Notability to take notes and sometimes recorded lessons. I would upload note sheet and Powerpoints to Notability and then write directly on them.
Voice: Do you want to have your textbooks on the iPad?
Grant: I would like to have my textbook on my iPad, but I would still like for my English novels to be in print because it is easier to annotate and use the book for an essay with a paper copy.
Voice: Did you find the iPad to distract you in class or during homework?
Grant: I found that it did distract me because we have the ability to download games and watch Netflix.
Tech perspective: Mr. Tognetti
Voice: What were some challenges that were faced this year with the iPads?
Tognetti: Especially at the beginning, there was a problem with students losing their iPads. Girls would come in saying they cannot find their iPad, but luckily we were able to locate most of them. Students not downloading apps and updating their iPad to the correct IOS was another problem and as a result we still have some girls whose apps do not function properly. Also, we have had a problem with students still not really understanding how Google works or how to utilize Google file sharing.
Voice: What parts of the iPad program were successful this year?
Tognetti: On the plus side it seems like the students were definitely utilizing the devices right away and Notability seemed to be a huge hit. I think over the course of the year students have been using the iPad for more multimedia to be able to show in a creative way that they understand a certain topic. Also, the amount of paper printing went way down because the concept of turning in work electronically really worked.
Voice: Are there any changes being made for next year in regards to iPads?
Tognetti: We are going to add some additional printers for the iPads in different areas around the school so they are more accessible. We are hoping that people don’t use this to print more, but we want students to have the ability to print when they really do need it.
Also, we are going to have a better process for distributing the iPads to freshman over the summer because it turns out there are going to be a lot of students taking the computer apps course over the summer and so we are going to do a lot of training with them to get them started early. And since we only have to inform the freshmen and any new students, the process of getting the devices out to the girls is going to be a lot smoother.
Finally, this year when students broke the glass it was paid for by the school, but next year it is going to have to be paid for by the student or parents. We are also creating a new and improved Student tech Support web page which students are going to have access to so they can go to that for the first stop for straightforward questions.
Voice: Why aren’t seniors able to buy their iPads off of the school?
Tognetti: Unfortunately because of the lease agreement with Apple, there is not really any straight forward way to get to sell the device to the girl and then take it off our lease.
Voice: Is there going to be regulation of downloaded apps next year? Why or why not?
Tognetti: No because we are trying our best to treat all the students as responsible young adults and we want them to use their best judgement, but we do have the ability to monitor at a pretty detailed level if we have to.
Voice: Will textbooks be integrated into the iPads next year?
Tognetti: I think it is still going to be a mixture between online and print for a while, even though there are more and more publishers that are providing things electronically I do not think we are yet at a point where all the textbooks are going to be digitalized.
Voice: Will every teacher be on Canvas next year?
Tognetti: All teachers and students should be using Canvas as their learning management system in the fall. That means that course details like the syllabus, when assignments are due, or links to additional subject resources will be in Canvas. Collecting – and assessing- electronic homework generally works really well in Canvas, so that’s a great feature. Google does not go away and it will work hand in hand with Canvas, and is where the educational content (like detailed assignment instructions) would reside.