1:1 iPad Program Exceeds Expectations
Posted October 17
Educational technologists are an invaluable resource
The 1:1 iPad program at Saint Francis High School has taken off, with students and teachers embracing the tablet in their classwork. Students are using it to take notes, make presentations and draw sketches. They have used the built-in camera to determine velocity of a projectile, scanned QR codes to reach websites and made movies about the school’s historical figures.
Helping instructors make this transition to incorporating the iPad in their curriculum are the school’s two educational technologists, Alex Bega and Matt Maguire ’98. Teachers themselves, Ms. Bega and Mr. Maguire’s job is to help their colleagues develop technology-centered curriculum by showing them how they can implement lesson plans and providing them with training and resources. They have encouraged teachers to design assignments asking students to show their knowledge of a topic through a project, such as creating a movie or artwork, instead of relying on a multiple choice test, for example, to gauge their understanding. While teachers are allowing students to be more creative with such assignments, traditional skills like writing are still emphasized throughout, Ms. Bega and Mr. Maguire say.
The pair have been in their role of supporting teachers since the summer, and already, they have been sought out for their expertise and asked to share about their experiences. Teachers and administrators from other schools have posed a variety of requests from what kind of apps Saint Francis uses to what students can do with the iPad.
“They want concrete examples of how they can improve the classroom experience,” Mr. Maguire said.
In their presentations, Ms. Bega and Mr. Maguire describe what they have learned over the course of the rollout. Paper usage is down at Saint Francis, and initial fears about a great number of iPads lost or misused have not materialized. Teachers and students have also been learning from each other in discovering ways to best use apps, constantly finding new tools and functions to improve learning.
“Teachers have been open to learning from students, and this fosters a sense of community and connection in the classroom,” Ms. Bega said.
Saint Francis has made a considerable investment in the iPad program. In addition to supplying all students and teachers with a device, the school underwent a wireless network upgrade over the summer. Also, each classroom is outfitted with an Apple TV, which enables students and teachers to project their iPad to a screen.
All this additional hardware has been worth it. Anecdotal evidence shows that the iPad program has yielded great results so far. Sophomores Bridget Foley, Kyle Kitagawa and Isabelle Pichay, working together at a table, say the iPad makes them more organized and efficient, and they find they are more interested in what they are studying. That level of engagement has not gone unnoticed by teachers like Cinthya Miranda-McIntosh, a Spanish instructor. In introducing her students to a Latin American comic strip writer recently, she asked her class to find other examples of his work. In the past, she would have done the research herself and presented it.
“This time, they got into it and and were sharing their findings. Students got so much more out of it,” she said.
Mr. Maguire agrees that the community is still very excited about the program.
“Sometimes when you roll out a program, you start out strong but you can also lose steam,” he said. “But there is still a buzz about it here. Everybody jumped into the program right away, and it’s been successful so far.”