By Kate Elfers and Elizabeth Roe
There was a buzz in the Class III and Class V homerooms on the first day of school as students eagerly indulged in the excitement of receiving brand new iPads. The iPad pilot program had officially launched, bringing with it a whole new mindset to Winsor classrooms.
The iPad pilot program was designed last year after thoughtful conversations among faculty members about how to enrich Winsor’s classroom environment. “Your daughter’s ability to use technology for learning is a critical skill and an important component of a relevant education,” said Director Ms. Stettler in a letter home to parents. After just two months with the iPads, both students and teachers have already learned a lot about this new technology and seen some of the benefits of a modernized 21st century classroom.
The iPads are beneficial in the classroom because they help students organize their work and save paper, while also offering many great apps and the opportunity for each girl to create her own customized system. “I like to use the iPad for my schoolwork because it helps to organize my notes and work. All of my things are in one place so I will not lose them,” said Alessandra De Vito ’18. The iPads also make students’ backpacks much lighter and save paper by taking the place of piles of notebooks. “Biology class is a much greener classroom. Ms. Rawlings and I have not handed out any paper except for the quizzes and test. Students access all handouts from Haiku and open them on their iPads,” explained Ms. Lima, Class V Biology teacher. In addition, the iPads offer hundreds of apps that allow students to take notes, read books, look up words, write essays, and receive teacher feedback all in one place. “I’ve learned to become more comfortable with the fact that girls are setting up highly individualized ‘systems’ for good study-habits,” said Ms. Chugani, Class III English teacher. “In the Lower School, we learned effective ways to take notes and do well in class, and, by using the iPad, we have to relearn how to take notes and be efficient in class,” said Hailey Yetman ’16.
However, new technology can also have its faults: as Natalia Lindsey ’16 explained, “Some of the resources that are offered to us don’t always function properly, which defeats the purpose and makes it more difficult to do work.” Perhaps such technological glitches will be fixed with time and students will continue to learn how to navigate the new technology. Some students have also criticized this sometimes-faulty technology and the moving away from traditional notebooks and pens. Using iPads means “we become completely dependent on technology, and if we have no Internet for a weekend or if we forget to bring our iPad to school, then we have no alternative,” said Grace Eysenbach ’16. We, and many other students find it difficult to stay focused and not get distracted by the games, videos, and applications that can be downloaded with the tap of a finger. It is up to the individual to stay on task because teachers will not always know when a student is paying attention and using her iPad for academic purposes or not. In this sense, the iPads have the potential to help students mature as learners by encouraging girls to exercise self restraint. Despite the drawbacks of this pilot program, we think that the benefits outweigh the negatives. The iPad program allows us to keep up as the world continues to advance in technology.
Because it is still early in the year, it is unclear whether the iPad pilot program is a success or not. While in classrooms iPads can be helpful, the number of games and entertainment apps easily equal, if not overtake, the number of educational apps. From the perspective of a student who does not have an iPad, the most visible features of the devices are the fun games constantly being played in the hallways.The iPads are only as successful as each individual makes them. There are limitless choices that each student makes on the iPad that will determine the efficacy of the pilot program at Winsor.