This story represents a portion of the recent work produced by The Apple Leaf staff. The Apple Leaf is published by the Advanced Journalism class at Wenatchee High School, under the tutelage of adviser Dave Riggs. The award-winning publication is a forum for expression by the students of Wenatchee High School, affording them a chance to air facts and opinions relative to all issues of concern to them.
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This year, the Wenatchee School District started a pilot program that involves iPads as tools for learning for 54 sixth grade students at Foothills Middle School and 23 fifth-graders at Columbia Elementary. The Apple Leaf decided to weigh the pros and cons.
By Holly Thorpe
Technology is the buzzword of this generation. We conduct the majority of our day’s activity by the glow of a screen. At this moment, Wenatchee School District is piloting iPads in Foothills Middle School and Columbia Elementary School. While the change is a little intimidating, I am applauding the move as a wise one.
Dissenters of the iPads have a number of complaints, ranging from the age of the children using them, to the addition of one more screen to a student’s life. However, the iPads have plenty to offer in terms of education, economics and even health.
You and I are the students on the brink. We have tools like the iPad at our disposal, but we still grew up with backpacks full of binders, books, pencils, calculators and notebooks. We also grew up with backaches and stacks of paper taller than us that ultimately ended up in the trash. Some of us lost our books and paid the fines, some lost our essay the day it was due and paid the price in the gradebook. We spent our time writing out notes we would eventually cram into a notebook where they may never be seen again.
Now imagine where we’d be if we did all of that in half the time, with half the resources, and half the stress. Voilà: technology.
Even besides the ease and convenience associated with not having to rifle through six classes worth of binders and papers, not to mention the environmental impact that must have, the move to use iPads in place of traditional tools could easily prove to be a smart financial move as well. According to electronista.com, schools could see savings in the billions: “If all or almost all of the U.S.’s 49-50 million K-12 students were to be equipped with digital textbooks, the quality of the textbook education would significantly improve (along with other less-tangible benefits such as an expected lowering of the dropout rate and improved test scores) and the cumulative savings would be substantial: over $12 billion per year.”
Yes, kids use a lot of technology. But this change is only as bad as we make it. It would be a monumental mistake for the Wenatchee School District to squander the benefits technology like iPads have to offer because it’s a path we haven’t been down before. I think students have plenty to look forward to in the next few years as the district moves forward, hopefully pioneering what could be the next big move in education reform.
By Brenna Visser
They say iPads are the education of “the future.” The future we tend to think of is one that has been painted a place of no more worries or inconveniences: kind of like the Jetsons meet the realized dreams of a Miss USA platform. But I’m not here to say what the future will or won’t be, just that iPads for young students shouldn’t be a part of it.
The benefits of having iPads in the classroom are obvious: less paper, more opportunities for the technology we will use in the future, and overall an effective way to grab the attention of an 11 year old. It is undeniable that it would make textbooks obsolete, and for older students I find it a wonderful alternative.
There are some logistical downsides, such as the expensive upfront cost and app prices, along with possible maintenance costs (since we all see how we treat our textbooks).
The fundamentals of how students think is more in jeopardy. Certain skills such as penmanship, basic motor skills and, most importantly, critical thinking skills will be sacrificed in the name of being ready for “the future.” Having all of the answers to all of your questions just a few clicks away may seem like we are advancing students in the right direction, but speed is not depth. There is something to be said for the skill of being able to work through a thought or a problem without the instant gratification of having an app or a search engine to help you. Employers are looking for problem-solvers, not problem-Google-searchers.
Furthermore, a school serves many functions, one of which is to build relationship with your fellow peers and teachers, learning how to communicate and respond to your future co-workers and bosses. Why would we take a school environment and isolate every student to their own individual iPad? A majority of these students will go home only to be in front of a cell phone, computer or another iPad screen.
There are obviously a lot of benefits to having iPads in schools. We could all benefit from online textbooks and less loose-leaf paper, especially for high school and college students who truly need it. As for transferring how we learn onto a series of online games and apps to bribe students into learning, I say we might need to restart our priorities.