School uses iPads, iPods in class

ROSA STUDHOLME
Last updated 05:00 12/06/2012
Bluestone year 8 pupils Kate Taylor and Dylan Hurst
NATASHA MARTIN/Fairfax NZ

GET WITH THE TIMES: Bluestone year 8 pupils Kate Taylor and Dylan Hurst, both aged 12, work on their iPads.

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IPads and iPods are being rolled out out at Timaru's Bluestone School as teaching tools and principal Ian Poulter says many other schools are doing the same.

Mr Poulter explained the move at a meeting last week that attracted 140 curious parents.

"A lot of schools we understand ... are looking at children having devices at school like iPads and iPods to help in their learning," he said.

The school has provided a year 8 and year 7 classroom with an iPod for each pupil. The school also has iPads that are available to all classrooms at the school, including year 1s and 2s.

A number of applications were useful in education, Mr Poulter said.

He used Puppet Pals, as an example, where users could create animated movies. It also incorporated sounds and music and had to have a clear message.

"The kids are enthusiastic because it's modern and good fun. They actually engage the learner.

"But underlying all that is the fact that they're doing English, reading, writing and maths."

In another application called Lifecards the children made imaginative postcards and created newspaper articles.

"You can see they're not just playing games. They have to think it through."

At Thursday night's meeting with parents, Noel Leeming presented different products in the range, demonstrating their use and answering questions.

Two experts from Auckland and Masterton also talked about the different uses for the devices.

"They explained to parents what we are doing and why."

Mr Poulter said he appreciated some families may find the cost of the devices unaffordable, but said the school would make them available to every pupil.

"No kid's gong to be disadvantaged."

He was "working through" how pupils without a device would complete homework tasks out of school hours.

There were other issues to address but things could be done to resolve them, he said, such as monitoring access to social media sites.

The school could monitor the time of day where wireless internet could be accessed and the amount that could be downloaded to a device, he said.

"There's a more important thing here and that is that you can introduce filters and restrictions in your system but what actually needs to happen is the kids need to learn what's appropriate and what's not.

"The truth is kids will go on Facebook, so what we've got to teach them is ... how do you keep safe on it and what are the rules."

The school would hold sessions with parents about applications the children were using at school. The applications would also be published on the school's website.

Last week, teachers underwent two days of professional development showing them how to use applications to make learning "meaningful and engaging".

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- The Timaru Herald

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