Thursday, November 8, 2012

Is it only a matter of time?

Some Schools in Australia Now Requiring iPads for Students

updated 03:00 am EDT, Fri October 12, 2012
By Electronista Staff

A church-based private school, along with several other private educational institutions in Sydney, Australia are now informing parents that most students will be required to own an iPad beginning in the next school year. The move to tablets has become compulsory at the schools because educators believe they are significantly more effective as learning tools than notebook, and eliminates the need for students to lug around heavy textbooks. While not all schools are mandating iPads specifically, traditional printed materials and even laptops are clearly on the way out.

St. Andrew's Cathedral School in central Sidney, reports the Sydney Morning Herald, now requires parents to buy iPads for seventh- to tenth-graders. While currently this represents an extra $600 or so from the parents, officials say that as e-book textbooks become more widespread the savings from not buying the printed books will more than offset the cost of the iPad.

The use of the tablet, with its ubiquitous wireless connection, allows classes to be more mobile and for students to more easily carry all the materials they need with them from one class to another without having to change out books at lockers. While some parents are concerned that additional time spent on the computer could increase Internet addictions or be abused, the school networks are used to filter where students can go on the Internet and limit non-educational use.

Officials argue that strong computer and Internet interaction is the way modern children communicate and that schools must work with the students on a level they can engage in. The machines are also used to set up FaceTime-like conferences when the student is sick and must work from home, allowing students to not fall behind and still be involved with the class.

A girl's school called St. Catherine's in Waverly went with the heavier and more expensive Samsung Series 7 Slate PC for its sixth- through tenth-grade students. It was chosen for its native ability to use a stylus, better for drawing and for some tests which still require students to hand write their essays. The Slates are considerably more expensive, around $1,500 not including some $500 in app and e-text costs.

Parents of the private-school students -- where tuitions can range up to $25,000 per year -- have generally been accepting of the changes and costs, but worry about the propensity of students to lose valuable items, with schools advising that parents add coverage of the tablets to their insurance policies, and impress on youngsters that they may have to pay (or work out in chores) the cost of any lost items. [via Sidney Morning Herald]

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