By Luis Contreras
It is official: St. Thomas will be implementing handheld technology into everyday school life.
For several years, schools like St. Agnes, Episcopal and Strake Jesuit have been utilizing laptops to enhance the experience of everyday class.
Through the use of computers, class work can be saved and accessed in a convenient way. Bulky textbooks and messy papers become less necessary. Even the pre-test scamper for pencils can be eliminated. In short, computers are a student’s best friend at school.
Recently, the school board and administration decided that STH will also be making the move to this form of technology.
But there is a twist: where other schools have been using laptops and netbooks, St. Thomas will implement handheld tablets.
“St. Thomas has always been on the cutting edge,” Principal Rev. Patrick Fulton, C.S.B., said. “But tablets really will be the thing of the future. With them we will be able to get rid of textbooks and make learning immediate.”
The news has permeated the school for a few weeks now. Students of every grade have heard about the tablets and have speculated about the details.
Students will begin using a sleek Asus Transformer Prime for the 2012 school year.
This new tablet has been hailed the best tablet to date by CNet. There are even murmurs of it putting the ever-so-popular iPad to shame.
The Transformer Prime boasts 30% better image quality, high-def (1080p) video camera, incredible sound system and a tough gorilla glass exterior.
All in all, the tablet sounds like a winner.
“It’s a beast,” Fulton said. “It is really better than the iPad and much more affordable. It has the advantages of a tablet and the productivity of a laptop.”
Students are certainly excited about this “beast.” Freshmen, sophomores and juniors alike have been rejoicing at the news.
Sophomore Carter Grigsby sang its praises from the second the rumors started.
“Oh I am so stoked,” Grisby said. “It’s going to be sick. The learning experience here is going to be new. No more textbooks? I like it.”
A vast variety of students agree with Grigsby. Everyone knows the terrible feeling of dragging a backpack filled with seven textbooks up the stairs in the Hall of Honor. There is nothing worse than having to make the cross-campus journey from P.E. to English with every single textbook in tow.
Luckily the tablet serves as a replacement for most of those textbooks. Many publishers publish digital versions of the books.
For example, Ave Maria Press, publisher of the majority of the theology textbooks, has been creating interactive digital textbooks. They offer images, links and even videos. Allowing for interaction like this provides for a more dynamic learning experience. Students can log into their tablets and delve into a deeper level for each class.
This also makes a teacher’s job more in depth. With the new possibilities, instructors can concentrate more on specific topics at a time.
For example, when teaching a chapter on cellular respiration, a biology professor can rely on the videos and links provided by apps on the tablets. In this way, teachers can count on a more thorough understanding from the students.
“We wanted to keep the price as reasonable as possible,” Fulton said. “Because of that students will pay a little more in form of tuition each year. Unfortunately this means that students will not be keeping the tablets at the end of the year.”
Though most students will be anxiously awaiting this new horizon, some students are left on the outside looking in. Seniors who will graduate this May will not witness the new age of technology.
Connor Kirkpatrick is one of these seniors.
“I am so upset,” he said.”It’s just not fair that tablets are being brought in after we go out.”
Regardless of emotions like these, tablets will revolutionize the school community. Where other schools are lugging around bulky artifacts known as laptops, students here will be utilizing the tool of the future.
Fulton believes a technological future to be of utmost importance.
“I want the students to teach the teachers,” Fulton said.