By Walter Burns
The tablet integration has been one of the most ground-breaking changes to student and faculty life in the past decade.
Switching from largely traditional means of education that have remained relatively constant over time, to a whole new tablet program has presented both students and faculty alike with a whole new set of possibilities and tools for learning.
However, changing from no tablet integration last school year, to full integration this year has also brought about a number of issues that have arisen from technical problems and the student body’s inexperience with using the devices.
Many students complain that the use of online books have brought nothing but frustration to their study routines.
Sites like MBS Direct and Pearson are unpredictable.
Wi-Fi sometimes fails to keep pace with the tablets, especially when a large amount of people are using the Internet at once.
Most frustrating for the students, teachers expect them to do homework over the tablet when not everybody has access to an alternate Wi-Fi provider at home.
“It’s hard having to do all my tablet work at school,” junior Ryan Hanse said. “My Wi-Fi provider at home is not reliable at all, so it gets old having to wait until the morning to do stuff I could’ve done the night before.”
However, the administration thinks things are going well with the tablet program.
“We actually beat the odds, experts in the industry told us we were far more successful than we should have been,” Principal Rev. Patrick Fulton, C.S.B., said. “We did our homework. [Director of Technology Chris] Hodge and [Assistant Director of Technology John Michael] Cuccia did a lot of prep work beforehand to really help us out.”
The tablets have affected teachers as well. Many are new to the idea of technology playing a role in the classroom.
However, modern advances in home recreation have helped the adaptation process be a lot less painstaking for everyone involved.
“I’ve had an iPad for about three years,” English teacher Hunter Youngblood said. “That has made adapting to the tablets a whole lot easier.”
Youngblood thinks that from a technical standpoint, the tablets are a great idea. However, she sees them more as a distraction than anything.
With the majority of students owning games on their tablets, it becomes a tough job for the teachers to ensure they are not being ignored.
“It’s very difficult to police them, and this makes it hard to tell whether or not they are being used for school work,” Youngblood said.
Although this whole process may be overwhelming to some teachers, the administration is doing what they can to provide new and improved methods of instruction to the faculty.
“There are two models of professional development,” Fulton said. “One is the drink and drown model, where there is just too much information and the teachers’ eyes glaze over much like their students’, and all they remember is how to turn it on. We are going with the sip and savor method, where we try something new in various periods of time.”
The inservice was a huge success because every teacher had something new and interesting to learn about the tablets.
Instead of being forced into a lecture about topics they may already know, the faculty had the choice to choose what they wanted to learn.
There were five sessions offered that covered topics like power searching, Splashtop, Edline interactive assignments and Google Drive. For the future, there is an expressed desire for concrete classroom application using the different web tools and applications.