Tablets replace books as Collegiate goes hi-tech

LIBBY WILSON
Last updated 05:00 28/02/2014

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When young students at one Hamilton secondary school need to refresh their memory on how to use a microscope, they won't be flicking through pages of scribbled notes.

Instead, a year nine science class from the independent Saint Paul's Collegiate School will switch on their iPads and check out instruction videos and flowcharts they made.

The devices were introduced at St Paul's last year for year nine students and half of the staff, and are now in use by the whole junior school and all teachers - which means about 230 students and 65 staff.

It's a bring your own device (BYOD) situation for pupils and the school recommends they get an iPad.

Year nine pupils were engrossed in their science lesson yesterday afternoon, from putting flies and other objects they brought onto the slides and moving the lenses into focus.

But it was iPad photos and videos, not pen and paper, recording the learning.

Making and editing videos was "definitely" the best part about using iPads in class for Heath Johnson, 12.

"It's a really handy tool for showing how to do things," he said.

He got creative by overlaying a small inset of what he was seeing through the microscope in the corner of the instruction video.

And it impressed teacher Hannah Munn, who said she often learnt new iPad tricks from her pupils.

The devices were "fantastic" for science and her uses included an app which directed students dissecting a rat, and homework questions based on videos that pupil could watch on the iPads.

They allowed for more interactive learning than the traditional worksheet, Mrs Munn said. "They learn to learn for themselves," she said.

"In the past you would teach them how to use a microscope and you would go to the next lesson and they'd forgotten how to do it. But [now] they're making something that they then go home and watch or they show their parents. It's something of their own."

And student Bevan Muirhead, 13, found another time-saving use for the iPad. "Say you miss notes from someone, you can just take a photo."

For headmaster Grant Lander iPads "ticked all the boxes"- easy to use and to restore system settings if required, portable, and something pupils enjoy using.

Plus there was a range of free educational apps.

An iPad costs from $450 to $1399, depending on the model and capabilities, but Mr Lander said the school's only requirements were that it was an iPad and had at least 32 gigabytes of memory.

While it's early days, advantages like greater pupil motivation, staff discussion across curriculum areas, lower photocopying bills and less lost work are being noticed already.

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"We're dealing with boys in year nine and ten, their organisation and storage of paper is probably a weakness. So to be able to have everything at their fingertips just by logging in is quite a significant advantage to them."

And while the iPads were used every day in class there were times when they were off limits - like at lunch and at outdoor pursuit camps. "Boys are screenagers, they love the screen," he said.

libby.wilson@fairfaxmedia.co.nz

- Waikato Times

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