iPads make learning a delight for pupils

KIMBERLEY CRAYTON-BROWN
Last updated 05:00 15/02/2012
Aurora College year 7 pupil Renae Henderson uses an iPad to photograph fellow pupils Logan Murdoch and Ruben McNatty.
NICOLE GOURLEY/Fairfax NZ

SCHOOL'S FUN: Aurora College year 7 pupil Renae Henderson uses an iPad to photograph fellow pupils Logan Murdoch and Ruben McNatty. All three were given iPads to use and said the device would make schoolwork much easier.

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Aurora College's youngest pupils received a classroom tool more exciting than an exercise book this week when iPads were given to each of the school's year 7 pupils.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt presented each pupil with the tablet after he told them how important technology and computers were – though he did admit his personal assistant did a lot of his internet research for him.

This was the second year iPads had been given to each of the year 7 pupils, with last year's group now using their tablets in year 8.

Deputy principal Graeme Hood said that when laptops, netbooks and iPads were trialled at the end of 2010, teachers decided the iPad best met the pupils' needs.

The tablets come with more than 150 apps preloaded, and pupils are given the opportunity to research other apps and explain to teachers why they would enhance their learning during the year.

At the start of last year, the iPads were used only in class, but later in the year pupils were able to take them home and use them for their homework.

Mr Hood said a benefit of the iPad was that it sat flat on school desks, and did not create a barrier between teacher and pupil in the the way that laptop screens did.

The iPads, which were school property and did not belong to the individual pupils, were bought with school funds, Mr Hood said.

The school was investigating ways to fund the initiative in the future, and would take it year by year.

iPad prices varied, but generally cost about $800.

Having access to the tool was a definite advantage for the pupils, he said.

"The engagement of the students is huge ... they are captivated by them."

Home base teacher Liz Haywood said the iPads had been a great addition to the classroom, and were used for numerous activities.

Last year, pupils had used them to keep up to date with current events and learnt to use the calculator and dictionary.

They could email work to their teacher at night and get feedback on it, and had also used the iPads to increase their research skills.

There were also apps relevant to the curriculum they could study with.

"They have been wonderful for that. Realistically, they are the way of the future."

Pupils with special needs could download apps that made learning easier for them, she said. A pupil last year had downloaded a talking dictionary.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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