The iPad Debate Rages On

by OLIVIA DEGEN

In recent years, the Oceanside School District has become increasingly dependent on technology (or “tech-savvy”, depending on who is asked). The introduction of iPads as a prominent classroom tool has made this abundantly clear. But what do students really think of these new changes in comparison to the way class was once run? What do students who have not used the iPads think of the developments being made by the school?

Students I questioned in grades 10 through 12 believe that there are some great benefits of using iPads in class. Increased internet accessibility is advantageous for quick question answering or referencing, especially in a language class when translations are needed. Additionally, many people without access to an iPad for educational purposes in OHS believed that more internet availability would benefit them greatly in class. According to sophomore Sarah Burch, the iPads are also helpful for organizational purposes because notes are all taken in one place and are easily accessible. The iPads are also supposed to decrease the amount of books a student needs to carry, which would be beneficial to many students.

Although a generally good organizational and referential tool, the classroom iPad does have some negatives. Many people find or perceive the iPad to be distracting. In the words of junior Shannon DeFranza, “We’ve learned the same way since the beginning of our school career and I feel that if we changed to iPads, then not only would we be learning difficult material, but we’d also have to deal with the curve of learning the software of iPads.” This concern applies to both students and teachers. While learning the capabilities of the iPad and figuring out its various functions, students were also responsible for other work. The Class of 2018, current sophomores, is especially aware of the learning curve associated with the iPads, being the first grade to utilize iPads in the classroom. Every year, many teachers have to learn to use the iPad as an educational tool for the first time. For this reason, many classes continue to use paper, even if all students have access to iPads. Students who have iPads continue to need paper and books for many classes, and may need to carry the same amount of books as those who do not use classroom iPads. Additionally, iPad users experience many technological difficulties. Apps crash, files are sometimes not saved, and the iPads can run out of storage, which has already become a problem for many sophomores who need the iPads for another two years.

Also, juniors and seniors interviewed did not feel that they were missing out on parts of their education by not using iPads. In fact, many students believe that taking notes on paper has helped them remember more information and that constant access to the internet is not necessary. When learning new vocabulary, a student using an iPad may never learn how to correctly spell a word because they wouldn’t need to. Emma McLaughlin, a senior who has iPad access in one class, Chinese, believes that the iPad has been more of a nuisance than a help, stating, “I feel that books are essential to a class like Chinese. The iPad has limited my ability to learn how to write in Chinese which is such an important part of learning the language.” Currently, students’ opinions on the iPads as an educational tool seem more negative, which may be attributed to the iPads not being used to their full potential.

As the iPads continue to be used grade by grade, year after year, perhaps students’ outlooks may change. It is probable that the school will make more advancements and improvements with the use of the iPads and find a balance between using paper and technology in school. Traditional education is evolving. The lingering question is whether this change is for the worse or is it for the better?