iPads in the classroom

GONE are the days when students carted backpacks full of textbooks, with local schools continuing to embrace new technology.

MacKillop College, one of several schools in Bathurst to trial the use of iPads and laptops in classrooms, has more than 250 iPads for staff and senior students.

Year 12 students received their devices last year, while the current Year 11 cohort was presented with theirs last month.

College IT technician Sam Osborne said iPads had proven to be a valuable and reliable tool, with just 0.85 per cent of the fleet – two iPads – replaced under warranty.

“Students carry them all the time and are making great use of them,” Mr Osborne said.

“They have their textbooks, suggested apps and resources available from the school’s intranet.

“The best aspects about the iPads are their availability for critical use and instant access to a wide range of information.”

Students have been using the iPads across all courses for word processing and online research. However, Mr Osborne said students were able to use the device to meet their individual needs.

“Some students still use the physical textbooks, while others prefer to use the iPad; it’s up to the student how they wish use it,” he said.

Year 11 computing student Anna Fenlon said her iPad provided access to an endless supply of information, from blogs to newspaper articles.

“You can use them as much or as little as you want. Teachers email us work and notes and some people use them to type in class,” she said.

Computing studies teacher Anthony O’Brien said the equipment provided students with an instant, portable library.

“Demands of a modern career path dictate a skill set which includes the ability to locate, analyse, judge and extract relevant information in a just-in-time way,” Mr O’Brien said.

The college will host professional development training days for both staff and Year 11 students at the beginning of the next school term.

All Saints’ College has also incorporated relevant training into its calendar. Registrar Michael Hissey said the college was dedicated to keeping abreast of the latest technology.

“We’re at the threshold of a complete change in how we deliver education material,” Mr Hissey said.

“Because it’s a developing area, I think it’s our responsibility to skill our staff.”

The college grounds are wireless networked. Mr Hissey said that eventually all students in the senior school would have their own iPad.

“As part of our IT policy, we are introducing iPad 2’s to current Year Seven students, who will then take them through as they pass into Year Eight [just as our previous Year Seven cohort has done this year]” he said.

“We’re finding as we roll them out, they’re becoming more powerful personal devices so there is less need to develop hardware computer labs.”

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