Apple iPads in school: beneficial or distracting?

by Eamon Scanlon

Talon staff writer

The Apple iPad is a very useful tool for students of all ages.  Teachers find them to be very useful in the classroom, but could they also be a distraction?

iPads are not much different from a regular laptop, however there are thousands of different applications you can download at any time.  It seems the number of educational apps is nearly infinite, and you could just download them forever.  These apps can do anything from helping to study for a test to tracking a student’s assignments.

Also with the iPad the teachers are able to keep an eye on the progress of every student whether they are at school or not, which may prompt many kids to try harder with their school work.  Whether or not the iPad is really useful in the class would completely be up to the teacher but could also depend on the class.

Many schools have made the switch to using iPads instead of the standard text books, and it seems to be going quite well according to teachers.  But it’s not only the teachers who think the iPad is a useful tool.

“I think the first generation iPad was a good start but am looking forward to the improvements in the newer, second generation,” said Keith Kostman of Minnehaha’s technology department. “The lack of a camera was definitely a drawback. I think the plethora of educational apps and apps in general make the iPad a viable tool for the classroom. They are delicate though so getting tossed around by students may not be the easiest thing to manage for teachers.”

Among this plethora of different apps you can purchase anything from and Italian Tutor to Driver’s Ed Lite or Oregon Trail.  The different variety of apps that are available can appeal to any student.  There is an app for just about every single subject you can take in high school so with your iPad you will never be without material.  Many students also find that the iPad is a useful tool when dealing with school work.

“I think that the iPad, if you went about it in the right way, could be very beneficial in schools,” said freshman Rachel McNamara.

There are some students who use their iPads at school a lot, including senior Zach Nipper.

“I use it almost the whole day,” said Nipper. “I use it to take my notes from classes since I have a pen for it.  It keeps me informed on news in the world and also calculations for math.  I also use it to type papers up and do worksheets if they are up on Edline.”

Whether or not the iPad would be beneficial has not yet been decided by Minnehaha staff, but there was a pilot considered at Minnehaha’s South Campus.  According to Principal Bruce Maeda the pilot could not be conducted due to insufficient funding.

”It’s easy to use and has a bunch of apps that are helpful for note taking,” said freshman Sarah Wilde.

Not everyone is ranting and raving about the iPad.  There are quite a few people who don’t want to make the switch over.  A lot of the argument is over the difference between how an iPad and a book feel.  Some prefer the touch screen of an iPad, while others like the kinesthetics of an old-fashioned book or even laptop.  It’s not all about the feel though, there are people who just don’t like to use the iPad.

“I personally think its really fun for games and apps, but as an academic tool I can’t stand it,” said freshman Hattie Awe. “Using it as a keyboard is so difficult for me, I would much rather have a usual laptop.”

So whether you are looking for a cool new toy to play with, or a useful multi-tool to help you out with school the iPad may be a great tool, but that would be up to you.


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