by Walter Burns
The implementation of tablets has been a riveting change to the school. It has altered everyone’s individual study routines and changed the way students handle their workload.
However, it is safe to say the students are now well acclimated to the general functions of their tablets.
The question is whether teachers are making good use of this new technology.
“To be honest, I think my tablet is very useful,” said Robert Trahan, who is a geology and theology teacher. “I use it every day in class and at home.”
Trahan is especially well known by students and faculty alike for his connected involvement with the new technology.
“I’d say that I have over 50 apps installed onto my tablet,” said Trahan. “I really have an app for everything.”
English teacher David Fritsch, ’94, has a comparable view on the tablets.
“We used them to replace the Norton English textbooks,” Fritsch said. “For the creative writing class, the whole thing is pretty much paperless. In research writing, instead of having to fight with everybody for time in the library or the computer lab we can do it all in class on the tablets.”
Although Trahan has a large amount of downloaded software, he refuses to download games onto the school tablet.
“On my tablet that I use for school, no,” he said. “However on my iPad I have all three versions of Angry Birds, so yes, I do play games at home.”
Fritsch has experimented with games on his tablet, but it was too much trouble for what it was worth.
“The games I played most frequently such as Words with Friends were not working right,” he said. “I would not receive notifications from the game. It’s a lot easier to do them on my phone.”
Games aside, Trahan has shown that there is a lot that the tablets can do in the classroom. He uses a program called Splashtop, which gives the user total control of their desktop computer from the tablet. What is displayed on the computer’s monitor also appears on the tablet, and the touch and trackpad commands work, too.
This is a great tool to use in the classroom, as it allows the user to present to the class without having to sit behind a desk or use a remote for a PowerPoint.
Many teachers use this function, as it is a factory default app on the Asus Transformer. In the future, Fritsch plans on using the tablets to help his students out as much as possible.
“What I’d eventually like to do is set up a calendar through an application so it would push homework assignments, quiz dates and other things directly to the students,” he said. “I just haven’t found an app that can do this yet.”
Fritsch believes that the tablets are a useful tool, but in the wrong hands they are easily a distraction.
“I think it’s safe to say the guy who plays games on his tablet in class is the same as the guy who fails a quiz because he was watching a football game the night before,” Fritsch said. “It’s just another distraction, except it’s available in class.”
Trahan is still undecided about how the tablets have affected the student body.
“These tablets are really both a tool and a distraction,” he said. “It requires discipline, but because they are new there’s a different style of learning that comes with it. Someone once told me, you’re one click away from distraction. I do see students who occasionally wander off on the Internet, but it’s just going to happen. And it will show up on their grade.”
The tablets are the biggest story of the year and students overall enjoy them.
However without proper discipline, students and teachers alike will not reap the benefits the tablets are intended to provide.