Students at Columbus use iPads efficiently

Students at Columbus High School, like junior Josh Van Beisen, use their iPads daily in class and at home. Connor Watson photo

A year ago this March, the Cedar Valley Catholic School system started making decisions about giving each student in grades six through 12 an iPad 2. The original plan of purchasing each student a Macbook laptop was put aside after opting for the iPad 2 at almost half the price of a Macbook. Students were taught how to use new apps and how to apply their new piece of technology to their studies.

According to staff, implementing the iPad 2s to the schooling of the students of Columbus High School, Blessed Sacrament, Sacred Heart and Saint Edwards grade schools has made learning more efficient. Tom Ulses, principal of Columbus High School, said, “I believe that we have raised the efficiency level of what we are doing. For example, all students have access to the same device. Teachers can plan projects more efficiently because they know that all the students will have access to the tools that can help them complete it. Students are able to access digital content more efficiently, and paper consumption has dropped significantly,” Ulses said.

Many students feel that the iPads have significantly helped their learning as well. Having an iPad means automatic access to the Internet and millions of apps that can assist them in their learning.

Junior Ashlee Sinnot said she believes that the iPads have helped her learn more effectively.

“I think it helps for some things like being able to access the Internet all the time and being able to do projects. You can also get more done in class when working on a project or even taking notes because typing things is a lot quicker,” Sinnot said.

With technology comes maintenance. However, the students have not seen many issues with their iPads.

Paticia Wiss, theology teacher, has at times struggled with the new iPads. The technology is sometimes difficult to get a grasp on.

“It’s kind of like freshmen and their lockers after the first semester. It’s a piece of cake, but that first semester, oh boy, it’s nerve wracking. So maybe this technology isn’t as simple as the freshmen lockers, but it really is an adventure, and for everything we lose because of technical difficulties, I think we gain in building community as we problem solve together,” Wiss said.

Connor Watson, junior at Columbus, has not had many troublesome issues with his new technology.

“The screen can get touchy at times, and if you don’t shut it off after a while, it gets a little wacky, but you can do pretty much do whatever on them. They’re really portable and, although I hate to say it, they are great for homework,” Watson said.

The iPad’s portability is also one of its strong suits. “If I have a game that’s away, I can bring my iPad and get everything done without having to wait ‘til I come home to use the computer,” junior Carlie Sullivan said.

However, the iPad is not only known for being an educational device. There are millions of games and websites students can also access on their iPads. From the point of view of an instructor, math teacher David Will said he believes that the iPad is not to blame if students have off-task tendencies.

“The idea of focus is up to the individual student. Students always have daydreamed and still daydream,” Will said.

Students agree. Sophomore Lindsay McManus commented, “They have helped with expanding creativity with projects and stuff, but you can easily get off task with them.”

Other big changes are also on the horizon for the Waterloo Catholic schools. In addition to an increase in enrollment in the past year, the building of the new middle school is ahead of schedule. The Blessed Maria Assunta Pallotta Middle School will be a consolidation of all Waterloo Catholic 6-8 graders. Along with the iPads for all students, the new Middle School will also have an elevator to assist students with disabilities. The middle school is set to open next fall.

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