At Marian Catholic we are on a journey to prepare students to be successful citizens in a high tech world we can't sometimes imagine. Today's students have never known a world without computers, the Internet, highly interactive video games, and cellular smartphones. We are making the shift from "learning to use technology" to "using technology to learn." Our 1:1 initiative started for students in the fall of 2014. We have compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions to help address some common concerns and offer answers as we move forward with this initiative together. We will add to this list from time to time as pertinent questions arise.
The decision to purchase iPads was based on cost, maintenance, and management issues. Entry level iPads are approximately half the price of a standard laptop. iPads have no moving parts or keys-offering the likelihood of fewer repair and replacement issues. There are high-quality management systems that allow the school to remotely manage a large number of iPads, which is not the case with comparably priced netbooks. Additionally, the iPad has double the battery life of other options, which will allow students to get through an entire school day without having to charge devices throughout the day. The iPad is currently the best mobile device for use in educational settings.
How long have MCHS educators been meeting and investigating this issue?
There have been teachers, administrators, and technology staff involved in informal discussions about this for at least two years, gathering information, resources, asking questions, and determining how this will play out at MCHS. The official proposal and approval came from a group of about ten educators and the Executive Board last summer.
I have a Windows computer. Will an Apple iPad be compatible with it?
Yes. The iPad is managed through a program called iTunes, which has both Windows and Mac versions. Documents can be moved back and forth between the iPad and various workstations using tools like Dropbox, Google Docs, and email. Compatibility is not an issue.
How long will the iPad be a viable tool for my student?
Apple has a commitment to iPad viability throughout the four-year span of a student’s high school career. Apple products provide their consumers with operation system updates to ensure that their devices keep current with these changes. These upgrades are free of charge and easy to implement.
What happens if they break?
MCHS highly suggests that parents consider iPad insurance at the time of purchase and a protective case. Apple stores are very helpful in quick turnaround on repairs. The responsibility of iPad upkeep lies with the owner.
Do you have a proposed iPad policy/rulebook?
Yes, the MCHS Handbook will reflect a newly revised policy to help guide students and inform parents of appropriate iPad use in the classroom and on campus. Students and parents will sign the acceptable use policy as they do each year.
I see my student playing games on our iPad at home. Will they do that at school?
No, there will be few, if any, games approved for student use on the iPad. The iPads are a tool for learning and that is how they will be used. Students will be creating, writing, documenting acquired knowledge, collaborating, and learning responsible use of iPads.
Are students allowed to be on Facebook/surf openly on the web?
Students will not be allowed on Facebook at school, consistent with our current policy. They will be able to browse the Internet for school-related work sites. Our network filters will continue to be in place at school. We will meet with parents as the program gets underway to help guide them on digital citizenship and use of the Internet at school and at home.
Will they be allowed to use iPads during lunch? During study-hall? Are there places where they are off limits?
Students can use iPads during lunch at their own risk of exposure to foods, liquids and crowded areas. They can use the device during study-hall for educational purposes. The device should be safely stored away during gym classes, during passing periods, and while using restrooms.
Are they going to be allowed to download their own apps onto the iPad?
Because the device belongs to the student/family, it is the owner’s prerogative as to what personal apps they choose to purchase and download.
Repairs take time. Will there be school loaner units? If so, how many "extras" will you have on hand?
The iPad is a personally owned device. A student's work will reside on that iPad. That's even more incentive to take care of it! Although the tech department may have a few iPads available for “emergency” use, we will not be able to check out any loaner units for extended days. If a teacher has planned a specific lesson which calls for all of their students to have an iPad on a given day, we may be able to support that plan by loaning an iPad to a student for that given period, for a test or a one class use.
What will be the disciplinary policy for students who break the conduct rules?
They may no longer be able to use an iPad, thus greatly impacting their work. This will depend on the frequency and seriousness of the infraction.
Can you explain how students will write a report in Word, make an Excel spreadsheet or PowerPoint presentation on an iPad? What are the applications that can be used that are similar?
The students will be using Google Drive applications for their work. Also, there are apps for common functions such as Pages, Keynote, and Numbers. We're still determining a list of what apps we will suggest or require of all students.
Will students be allowed to print to school printers?
No, we will not be printing from the iPads to printers. This could drive up toner costs enormously. Students will be allowed to print in study halls and computer labs from existing machines as usual. We anticipate that the need to print should drop considerably given the ease with which documents and information can be shared through Google Drive.
For what portion of the day will the students be in front of a screen?
That's hard to quantify, but we certainly believe there is a need for balance. Everyone learns in different ways. Students will still write with pencil on paper, explore their natural world, and engage in face to face learning.
Other schools may have this technology but what is it doing for their students? Are their students learning more? Are they doing better on standardized tests?
We continue to have conversations with other schools locally as well as beyond our area that have implemented a 1:1 iPad program with high school students. It is very difficult to pin down a correlation between standardized test scores and iPad use due to the many factors involved, but more and more data is becoming available. Our students will not only have a tool available to them to assist them with their learning whenever needed, but they will also gain important skills for their future including collaboration, communication, creativity, problem-solving, critical thinking, and more. Students will not use the iPads solely for word processing and research, but also to create, produce, and share.
Is the MCHS network wired to handle all of these iPads?
Yes, our network and wireless infrastructure have been updated. We are ready to support all of the iPad devices.
What about keyboarding skills?
While it's hard to see into the future, many predict that there will be different ways in which information is inputted into a device besides the use of a keyboard. However, for the immediate future, we will continue to offer keyboarding skills via our Computer Concepts and Information Processing Classes. We will explore different keyboarding apps that are and will be available for the iPad.
Will textbooks be replaced by e-books on the iPad?
We're still finalizing a review of the hardcover textbooks we now use and which are available for the iPad. There will be an e-book list for the fall. It's likely that there will also be subscriptions to some e-books. As this change from hardcopy textbooks occurs, parents will see saving in not having to purchase expensive books. This will offset the price of the device. As this process becomes part of the culture and the system, the cost of using textbooks, resource books, paper, and printing supplies should be greatly reduced.
Children have different learning styles. How can the iPads enhance or support those learning styles?
Having a variety of apps allows for differentiated instruction and the ability to meet student’s needs and various learning styles. Assignments will ask students to illustrate their learning with guidelines, rubrics, and specific parameters, but students will have options about how best to share that knowledge with their teachers. The iPad offers so many opportunities for this.
How will we ensure that students keep the iPads safe (liability) from theft or damage since iPads will be in backpacks and kids have after-school commitments during which their backpacks may be left unattended or not secured?
We suggest a protective case for the iPad and insurance. At the beginning of the year, students will learn procedures for taking care of the iPad. Included in the discussion will be the responsibility for keeping it in their backpacks between school and home rather than taking it out at various stops along the way. All students have access to a locker within the building. All athletes have access to athletic lockers for security after school. We will all have to do our best to keep them secure and be vigilant in locking lockers. Students should NEVER share their locker combinations with others or share their lockers.