School trialling portable devices to augment students' learning

BY KIMBERLEY CRAYTON-BROWN
Last updated 05:00 28/08/2010
Graeme Hood, Rachel McKinlay, Caleb Anderson  and Jonathan Kerr
ROBYN EDIE/Southland Times
WELL CONNECTED: Aurora College deputy principal Graeme Hood with year 7 students Rachel McKinlay, Caleb Anderson and Jonathan Kerr with the three computer devices the school is trialling.

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An Invercargill high school is trialling portable devices to enhance students' learning, including the much-hyped Apple iPad.

Aurora College deputy principal Graeme Hood said year 7 students were testing iPads, netbooks and laptops in class to find out which fit best with their learning.

Year 13 students at the school each had a laptop, an initiative which had been a success, Mr Hood said.

"The students are rapt with it," he said.

"It's been very successful so we're looking to extend the scheme."

Research showed students who used tools such as laptops in the classroom were more motivated, engaged, had improved literacy, greater academic success and developed independent learning, he said.

When the first day of term one 2011 rolled around, Mr Hood hoped to hand each year 7 student their own portable computer to use for the year.

Initially, they would be used in class only, but in time students would be given the opportunity to take the devices home.

The netbook and iPad were about $800 each, with laptops costing a little more, he said.

The school would fund the initiative.

"The cost, although not irrelevant, becomes secondary to the learning needs for the students," Mr Hood said.

He believed using a device like the iPad would be cheaper than computers, because buying an application (the iPad version of a computer programme) would cost less than computer soft-ware.

As far as updating the devices themselves, Mr Hood said they would be kept in use for as long as they met the students' needs.

The school was investigating how other year levels could benefit from the technology.

Other Invercargill schools contacted by The Southland Times said they did not have similar initiatives at their school, and had no plans to do so.

kimberley.crayton-brown@stl.co.nz

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