iPads incorporate technology into AP


Luke Chval

Art by Sarah Poor
Countless changes and new ideas have come with the 2013-2014 school year. One of the most intriguing and influential of them all is the transition of the district from using textbooks to handing out iPads to all Advanced Placement (AP) students. The goal of these iPads is to produce higher amounts of efficiency in the classrooms and to potentially save money for the school.
Columbia Public Schools did not pioneer the use of iPads in schools. According to an article by U.S. News’ Jason Koebler, over 600 districts, and even Columbia Independent School (CIS), across the United States have implemented student use of iPads into their curricula. Evidently, unlike some of the changes of the new year, the iPads have been met by students with an incredibly high satisfaction rate.
“The best part of the iPads is reading the textbook on it,” junior Kristen Tarr said. “Because there’s no way I’m going to carry a textbook around and read it frequently.”
However, the logistics of a transition this large are difficult and unpredictable. Namely, the fact that a month into school there are still many AP students without iPads. AP Language and Composition teacher Deborah McDonough has a roughly estimated 200 students in AP Language and U.S. Studies, and yet only a handful of students in her class have iPads.
“Right now, these students have to use the textbook, which we had as our backup, we don’t want to receive them until there are enough iPads for both sections of AP Language and U.S. Studies,” McDonough said. “The first year is going to be a learning curve for everybody, but we’re excited about it, and once we get them here and get used to them they will really help a lot.”
More decisions, such as the prioritization of distributing the iPads, have been called into question by the students. The AP Math students received them first, and the administration handed out the rest in a random line of succession all the way to AP World, finally receiving theirs on Monday, Sept. 23.
“We’ve been waiting a long time for these iPads,” sophomore Drake Short said. “And the fact that the students in the AP Human Geography class got iPads and my AP World History class didn’t is a little ridiculous.”
Just like any other technological step forward in school, there are some who feel nostalgic about the old ways. Despite supporting the decision to distribute iPads to all AP students, McDonough describes herself as one of the more traditional teachers in the school.
“I’m from the old school. I like the feel of a textbook, I like the smell of a textbook,” McDonough said. “I like turning the pages, and, most importantly, I like to be able to write notes and messages in a book.”
With all of the AP students receiving iPads, it will be sure that the use of the iPads won’t be limited to educational use. Along with the belief that the iPads will help learning, McDonough expects a significant amount of trouble brought with these new devices.
“They can definitely be a great tool within a classroom,” McDonough said. “However, we will have to do a bit of work to get the students to use them appropriately.”
The students will without a doubt use the iPads for recreational purposes, and some students are already planning their usage of the iPads for the school year. Many have already downloaded assorted games and other apps such as YouTube or Facebook.
“I’m really excited to see what kind of things we can do in the classroom with the iPads.” Short said. “I’m also looking forward to playing games and watching Netflix.”
Tarr has a similar mind set, as do many other students at the school, when it comes to the use of iPads. She also believes they can be extremely helpful, but sees them as a recreational device and believes that the students will be responsible enough to know the limits of work and play.
“I use Twitter on my iPad all the time,” Tarr said. “But I don’t let that get in the way of my work, and I think that’s how it will be for most students.”
McDonough, Tarr and Short all see the endless possibilities with the iPads and agree that the step from paper textbooks to electronic reading programs is beneficial for students and will carry RBHS far.
“They’re going into a world that is all about technology,” McDonough said. “They have to be ready for that, it would be a great disservice to them if we weren’t teaching them about technology.”
By Luke Chval