All 870 students at Hillview Middle School in Menlo Park, Calif. will soon have school-issued iPads that they can use both at school and at home. The school has slowly rolled out the program over the past three years, trying to work out the kinks before issuing the expensive devices to every student. Before students can take the devices home, they’ll have to take a course to get their “digital driver license,” which includes digital citizenship and learning their way around the device.

Eighth grade students at Hillview have had their iPads since the beginning of the school year. Read more on how teachers are using the devices in class so far and their hopes for the future. Here, they weigh in on how the devices change what happens in class, how they think about learning and how they organize their school work.

Click on student images to hear, in their own voices, how iPads have changed their school experience.

[Photo credit: Erin Scott]


Elley Goldberg likes almost everything about having an iPad. She says it’s easier to turn in homework through school-approved apps, get feedback from teachers, find information and annotate her reading. She also likes when teachers flip their lessons, asking students to watch a video lesson at home. “It helps to do the lesson at home sometimes because then you can come into class and ask more questions rather than having a whole class that needs to ask questions at the same time during a lesson,” Goldberg said.

Kyle Conrad is excited about the various apps he can use to organize his work — not to mention that he doesn’t have to carry books around. But his main complaint: Hillview has a strict policy that students can’t download any new apps to their iPads. Instead, the school approves which apps will be used school wide, manages the download process and commits to supporting teachers working with those apps. But that process, as in any bureaucracy, can be slow. “My social studies teacher found this perfect app for what we were doing in social studies, but wasn’t allowed to download it because the tech has to get all of our iPads and download it together,” Conrad said.

Jenna Philbin finds her iPad is most valuable when she goes to study. She can easily find notes she made on a text and remind herself what the class discussed that day or a random thought she’d had. Similarly, the notes for other classes are archived and searchable so students can find them and refer back. Having the iPad at home, in addition to school, means she doesn’t have to wait while other people are on the family computer; she can search online and complete her homework without time limitations.

Luke Strimbling likes using the iPad for his math assignments, especially when the class was studying geometrical constructions. “There’s something called Sketchpad Explorer and we can make our own geometrical constructions or use pre-made geometrical constructions to explore various conjectures,” Strimbling said. Manipulating the structures helps him understand and is a lot quicker than drawing a shape on graph paper. But not every app works perfectly and it can be frustrating to work with a glitchy app, but for Strimbling the benefits far outweigh the annoyances. “It’s a cool organizational thing because I can organize it for my own personal ideas, my own settings.”

Anthony Mainiero was a little more circumspect. He hates dealing with glitches and sometimes thinks pen and paper would work just as well as the $600 device his school gave him. He’s got bigger requests from school. “If there’s a way they could make learning more fun that would be nice,” Mainiero said. “I’ve noticed we haven’t really done any field trips this year. It’s been cut back; I’m not really sure why.”

What Students Think About Using iPads in School 14 February,2014Katrina Schwartz

  • Shari

    When I saw the title of the article, I was hoping to be enlightened on the benefits or drawbacks of using iPads in school. I work in a district that currently uses Windows and Andriod devices, but we are always looking for information that will help us select the best devices. This article was actually about how students feel about using digital devices, and didn’t provide any information that was specific to iPads. All of the things the kids mentioned – study aid, organizational tool, educational apps, etc. – are things that can easily be done on Windows and Android devices as well. A more accurate title would have been something like “What Students Think About Using Digital Tools/Devices in School”.

  • Candice Smith

    I think the other side to this is still behind the back !! I mean the effect of ipad on students in terms of time management and focus is still unclear.. Don’t kids drift off, through information on the web, from one interaction to another leading them to unproductive activities? Since they have been given the access to their palms now, i don’t think kids will spill the beans about that 🙂

  • geri caruso

    I think the last kid’s comments say a lot about this kind of thing…. There is only so much money in the education barrel. What is “cut back” to provide the money for the iPads and the insurance….870 middle schoolers, probably one/day needs replacing. Not to mention all those devices plugged in every day…. Really what are we thinking. Much of the time what is happening on the iPad could happen with a slate and a piece of chalk. I wonder how art and music and the library are fairing when you get a truly techie principal.

    • dubiago

      Presumably, the cost per student for an iPad or laptop is far less than that of printed paper. It’s good to save trees in the process, too.

      • EmilyRosen77

        Good point but I would argue that cost shouldn’t be the only consideration.

        • waraji

          iPads are inexpensive?

          • EmilyRosen77

            What I meant by being relatively inexpensive is that tablets are cheaper than most laptops or desktops but now have similar computing power and are far more practical and functional – with the exception (for now) of interoperability issues w/MS Office applications on non-Windows devices.

    • EmilyRosen77

      “Slate and a piece of chalk”… Are you serious? With all due respect, you seem completely unaware of how tablets are used or of the education related apps that are available for students, teachers, and parents…including art and music apps that supplement classroom work.

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  • Eugene Debs

    Thanks for the advertisement. We look forward to hoarding the billions in cash pegged for field trips while exploiting overseas workers.

    – Apple Inc.

  • Shack

    Huntsville City Schools in Alabama switched to laptops 4-12 grade and IPad for 1-3 grade students two years ago. The implementation of these devices have not been good. They need to train the teachers as well as the students in how to use these devices effectively and as a good resource tool. Right now it is glorified digital textbook. The teachers do not communicate through them or very poorly with it. It could work but has to be done smartly. We use computers everyday at my job and couldn’t do my job without them and the right tools.

    • EmilyRosen77

      I would suggest that integration has been poor due to poor leadership by the administrators in your school district. And I would how much push back you are getting from teachers. It’s a legitimate problem, but I think we need look no further than how devices are being integrated into classrooms at private and charter schools. Yes, there are resource differences between schools but it’s obvious to many that the main issue is that of attitude and leadership, or lack thereof.

  • Love Life

    I work in a 1:1 iPad high school and middle school. This article could be greatly improved if you spoke to high school juniors and seniors. Middle school students like the novelty of the device. High school students, in my experience, find the need for a real computer – especially in upper level and college-prep courses. This article doesn’t address the negative impact the device can have on student performance. I know several average to above-average students who have seen their grades plummet because they cannot handle the distraction of the device. This article also doesn’t address the research on technology and the brain. A recent article in Scientific American described how what was once thought a generational issue with reading for meaning on an electronic device has turned into a “the brain reacts differently” when reading on a digital device.

    • arobertjacques

      I’m in my early 30s and as a kid, never much enjoyed reading for recreation. As I’ve gotten older, and technology has changed, I’ve realized that I am actually better able to read from a backlit display than I am from printed material, which makes me drowsy.

      • Love Life

        Brain research supports what you are saying. It is when one is reading for meaning, new learning, that things change.

        • arobertjacques

          But when I now read it still isn’t for recreation, how does that figure into your assertion? Truly, if there’s anything that I really want to remember, I’ll get an audiobook, but that’s just because I read rather slowly.

          • Love Life

            I don’t know your specific situation, but it appears that because of your reading pace and your desire for audio books when you really want to learn something that you are an auditory learner? There is a lot of research regarding reading difficulties, the brain and how having something read to you bridges the gap. Here is an article discussing technology/print/and the brain.

    • tbarseghian

      Thanks for your comments. We do cover many of the issues you bring up in other MindShift articles, including the one linked in this story to the original feature:
      And here are a series of features about the effects of multi-tasking with devices:

      Good point about interviewing older students, too. We’ll keep digging in with our continuing coverage.

    • EmilyRosen77

      Good post and fair points. Perhaps “digital driver license” courses should (and do?) incorporate lessons on the problem of distraction.

    • Al Weber

      I am a sophomore in high school, and I definitely agree that laptops or computer devices are a higher priority than Ipads. Although the ease of use of an I-pad is great for elementary students, Highschool students need to use Word and write long essays which is unrealistic on either a flimsy attachable keyboard or the touchscreen. The one good thing about Ipads is the kindle app in which you don’t need to lug around your textbook every where.

    • Quezz

      I am a digital literacy specialist, and I can tell you that some of what you are saying isn’t quite true. Much of the need for “real computers” comes from the choices TEACHERS make about devices: most of the lessons and assignments high school teachers design don’t call for a more powerful device, but they assume students need something with a keyboard. Much of that would be solved by providing keyboards with tablets. More powerful functions would be required for programming, some simulations commonly seen in math and science, and courses involving digital design.

      If high school students are distracted by devices, it is often because the devices are poorly utilized due to disconnected lesson development. Primary and middle school curricula are less prescriptive in many instances, which allows for more creativity in lesson planning. Primary and middle school teachers are also on the whole either a) younger and accustomed to using devices, or b) more interested in experimenting with lesson design. High school teachers are also notoriously content-driven (SOMETIMES for good reason) which makes technology-assisted lesson design more difficult.

      Blaming the kids and the devices is really not an adequate responses. These factors account for far less than many high school teachers are willing to admit.

      • trav45

        Actually, I’m going to disagree with you. We’ve done a 3 year action research study in our HS, published our findings and hands down the students prefer their MacBook Pros for most of their work. Our third year of the study we required teachers to come up with transformative uses of the iPads (per the R in SAMR ), so it wasn’t just the same old stuff. Kids still preferred MBPs.

        • I would be very keen on seeing your results, and if you have the lesson plans that were part of the study, even better. I don’t see you disagreeing with me yet…because all you’ve said is that students prefer MacBooks and you published a study saying they did after teachers tried something “transformative” with iPads. I still don’t see what your definition of “transformative” is, or what you tried.

          If you used SAMR to measure the lessons, this study would be particularly valuable to technologists, because there are no known academic studies with reliable data on the framework’s effectiveness. I looked, and a few prominent scholars in the field have looked for them as well. Ruben Puentadura has outright refused any attempts at studies with verified instruments.

          My apologies if I am doubtful of your refute. I am genuinely interested in knowing where this study is published.

  • Walter Elias Grace

    Whenever I see an article mention iPads in schools, I cringe a little because although I feel there is considerable value of such technology, especially when it comes to interactivity and visualizations, I would wager that most administrators and teachers confuse the technological value with the educational value, assuming the latter is innate. There’s a classic Zen story that goes something to the effect of… when someone points to the moon, you do not want to mistake the finger for the moon itself—the finger (in this case, iPads) is merely the means.

    I’m also wary that such projects may be self-serving and career motivated by decision-makers hoping only to attach their name to a “hot” project as they try to climb some professional ladder. It doesn’t help that IT projects are notoriously difficult to implement and among the most prone to failure—something that most people really don’t understand unless they work in the domain. Industry groups and publications like Standish Group, Gartner, and Forrester are committed to emphasizing that point.

    It also reminds me of some of the work by Dr. Judy S. DeLoache on symbolic learning, and how one of the takeaways is that sometimes the best means for learning are the simplest ones. First hand, I remember the computer-assisted learning activities in high school always felt like busy work.

    • EmilyRosen77

      You may be correct concerning administrators who confuse technology with learning, but that is no reason to take a step backwards. It’s up to schools and school districts to correct that problem. And, sorry, but your experience in high school (which I assume was years ago) is simply not relevant. The Sony Playstation is more powerful than military super computers were in the mid-90s..ipads/tablets are in effect super computers themselves.

      • Walter Elias Grace

        Of course. I’m not against technology as an educational tool at all. In fact, I would share the sentiment that the power of technology isn’t so much as related to “features,” which is what most people tend to focus on, but rather the behavioral changes that the tech enables. I believe that it should be thoughtfully and carefully applied rather than simply implemented in a ham-fisted fashion—otherwise resources are wasted, feeding political discord, and we instead deal a setback to educational reform and progress. I don’t consider my experiences negative at all, but I believe they’re relevant because they shine a light on complacency (e.g. unsupervised learning) and the preoccupation with “toys” versus the original learning objective, losing sight of the forest for the trees—don’t get me wrong, I came from an affluent community with “good” schools and teachers. I just think it’s a good idea to exercise discretion and judgement because it’s very easy to get caught up in “shiny things.” It doesn’t help that education is underfunded today. I hear ya’ re: PlayStations, especially with the GPUs, it’s no surprise that even today’s military super computers sometimes consist of these clustered gaming consoles.

        • EmilyRosen77

          Wow…two more people posting here who actually agree! Thanks for your follow up comments.

  • Mary hanna

    How many kids already own an iPad? Does the school really need to provide one for every student?

    • arobertjacques

      If they want to control what apps are installed and filter their web content on the device, yes.

    • EmilyRosen77

      It’s a fair question, but the answer is probably yes. And given that scaled down tablet models can be purchased for a couple hundred bucks, worth the cost.

    • John Ostrander

      I won’t buy my kids an iPad. they are fine with what that have. They are expensive, and not very useful. Not to mention a huge distraction. My daugther does have a tablet though, it is second hand and all she really does is play candy crush. Oh well…..

  • Dani

    My son school has adopted iPads. It’s a private Catholic school.
    It did help kids organize. My son still prefer his desktop when doing homework
    I have a picture of him on a family outing, at the lakeside. At the time he was videoconferencing with other students on a group project .
    Phenomenal resource.

    • EmilyRosen77

      Thanks for sharing. Note to the Luddites on this site: This is a perfect example of how technology is successfully integrated into a student’s leasing experience.

      • LR

        “Luddites”? Is name calling really necessary? Most topics related to education are burdened with emotional, defensive feelings on all sides. Anyone who was educated may feel somewhat of an expert by virtue of having first hand experiences to relate. it is not productive to fan the flames of emotion. As for Dani’s comment above, I think it is an example of both successful technology integration and family disintegration. Videoconferencing with classmates while on a family outing is at once exciting and unfortunate.

      • Keri Lamle

        Ms. Rosen,
        I was recently listening to a webinar hosted by featuring Heidi H. Jacobs. Dr. Jacobs is well known and well respected in education circles. As I was listening to her webinar “Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World”, I noticed she also used the term “luddite” to describe certain educators. -Must not be such a childish depiction after all :)- It is my hope this post will help to renew your passion for 21st century education. It is my humble opinion, the insights you bring to the realm of education are valuable.

  • MIchael Kennedy

    Around 15 years ago, I taught at a school that gave each freshman student a laptop computer. They were to use these computers for the next four years. All teachers had to rewrite their lessons to fit the computer programs. Over time, some students moved away, dropped out, and other students moved into the school who didn’t have these computers, technology changed, and by their senior year the computers were outdated, many were broken, and for the most part the program was abandoned. At the same time, the books the students had to read continues to be passed around without any real problems. The program was abandoned.

    • EmilyRosen77

      Michael, The key point here is that this example was 15 years ago! That’s an eternity in terms of technology. I agree that integrating laptops into schools was very challenging back then, but the same process now is simply less challenging, less expensive, and more applicable.

  • John Ostrander

    iPads and other electronics are outdated about every 6-12 months. Textbooks are good for up to 10 years and cost about 1/8 of the price. PLUS, as a teacher, I like that we can still make kids READ… something that is becoming a widespread problem in young people: the ability to focus long enough to read a passage, page, or chapter, then to be able to write intelligibly about it.

    Apes can use a touch screen. Writing is what sets homo sapiens apart from lower mammals. This is a step backwards if you look from that perspective.

  • bassaiguy

    Isaac Newton didn’t have an iPad and he invented calculus. Albert Einstein, Jonas Salk, Rene Descartes, Isaac Asimov, etc. If only they had been able to play stupid games and used school approved apps just think of the great places we would be today.

    • arobertjacques

      You’re absolutely right. Everything was better before digital technology: everybody did everything they were supposed to and nobody acted on impulse. Let’s end this discussion and tear down the internet before it destroys another genius.

      • EmilyRosen77

        Let’s get rid of automobiles, television, radio, flying machines, and those useless light-bulbs while we’re at it.

    • John Ostrander

      Isaac Newton was a true genius. Calculus can be done without a calculator, but it is truly amazing how the idea was arrived at. Sir Isaac Newton is credited with inventing Calculus, he did not actually invent it but he did contribute quite a lot to it.

    • Keri Lamle

      Please read Isaac Asimov’s ” Visit to the World’s Fair of 2014″ written on August 16th, 1964. You will see not only did he predict the evolution of technology, he warns us of a horrid disease called boredom. We need knowledgeable educators to help prepare the digital native. Agreed, Isaac Asimov may not have had an iPad but he did have an open mind and an insight to what the future challenges might look like.

      Excerpt from Isaac Asimov’s “Visit to the World’s Fair of 2014”:
      Even so, mankind will suffer badly from the disease of boredom, a disease spreading more widely each year and growing in intensity.

      PS Bassaiguy, I understand you are being quite sarcastic with your post, and feel the need to lash out. However, I would urge you to try to enlighten those around you rather than your sarcastic polemic.

  • EmilyRosen77

    I’m frankly shocked at the number of negative comments. Are you Luddites? Or just a bunch of dinosaurs with little knowledge about how technology is currently used by teens or integrated in classroom? Yes, I agree that there are still some issues such as which platform is better or more cost effective (i.e, Androd, Apple, etc.), risk of technological obsolescence, consistency of technology used from year to year, etc. that need to be worked out, but the idea that students are best served by “chalk and blackboard” is as ludicrous as it is outdated. The future of learning will and should involve more flip teaching and student to student collaboration – and a tablet type device is a great tool for both. As it is for ebooks. It’s well known and often discussed at schools of education in the Bay Area (just ask profs and grad students at USF/SCU/UCSC/Berkeley about this issue) that much of the push back they see regarding technology integration comes from some (though certainly not all) older teachers and administrators in public school districts. Some helpful info on this site regarding technology in the classroom:

  • EmilyRosen77

    I’m frankly shocked at the number of negative comments. Yes, I agree that there are still some issues such as which platform is better or more cost effective (i.e, Android, Apple, etc.), risk of technological obsolescence, consistency of technology used from year to year, etc. that need to be worked out, but the idea that students are best served by “chalk and blackboard” is as ludicrous as it is outdated. The future of learning will and should involve more flip teaching and student collaboration – and a tablet type device is a great tool for both. As it is for ebooks. It’s well known and often discussed at schools of education in the Bay Area (just ask profs and grad students at USF/SCU/UCSC/Berkeley about this issue) that most of the push back regarding tech integration comes from some (thought certainly not all) older teachers and administrators in public school districts.

    • arobertjacques

      Agreed, the future depends upon people becoming familiar with, and learning to responsibly use, technology early in life. I think society’s currently experiencing some growing pains as we all learn exactly how it’s going to serve us, and mistakes are to be expected. We’ll learn from them and adjust accordingly. But to just say, “Oh, phooey! We’re going back to slates and sponges!” is ludicrous.

      People also need to remember that the young mind is not fully developed and problems related to misuse of tools, and lost productivity is inevitable. Think back to all the paper-based distractions kids engaged in when you were in school: note passing, paper footballs, spit wads, drawing, origami… not to mention throwing pencils at the ceiling to see if they’ll stick!

    • Ken Tilton

      “Luddites”? Is name-calling (and at the same time mischaracterizing others’ positions) a good idea? Technology is fine (I sell an on-line algebra app) but no one can yet point to any school doing x% better because of technology. Meanwhile some folks are dashng headlong into the expense and disruption of 1:1. Some of us are just saying those folks have the cart before the horse.

      • Love Life

        Ken is absolutely right, the research on 1:1 initiatives has always shown that it improves student motivation – for some students but there has never been a correlation between 1:1 initiatives and improved student performance.

    • Love Life

      Ms. Rosen, you clearly have a passion for technology as you have commented on every comment in this discussion thread. However, you base all of your feelings on “technology is the future and it is great.” I would venture to guess that you are a student, and not a teacher. You make broad, generalized statements about people who digress from your opinion. You’re either very young, or you don’t read the RESEARCH. Your statement about “push back” regarding technology and older teachers is a broad generalization, that while may be true for some, is certainly not for all. Anyone who disagrees with you is a “Luddite” … please, leave the name calling out of this and open your mind to the possibility that while technology can do wonderful things in education, it can also be a big time-waster and students can, in some situations, be better served by using pen and paper.

      • Keri Lamle

        Ms Love Life,
        So your rational for determining Ms. Rosen to be a student and not a teacher is because of her “feelings” about technology in the classroom? This seems to be a bit narrow minded to me. At the age of 40 something 🙂 I consider myself to be both a student and an educator. As and educator, I am aware of how technology is indisputably impacting the learning environment. The world is not going to go back to “slates and chalk”. Furthermore, if I want to have a positive impact on this digital generation, I need to spend my energy in learning how to harness this evolution in learning.

        • Love Life

          My rationale for describing Ms. Rosen’s feelings about technology is based upon her juvenile approach to disagreeing with every person commenting on this discussion and her need to call those who disagree with her Luddites.

          As for you, please, provide the research (not anecdotal) that indicates students perform better in 1:1 learning environments. Please provide the research (not anecdotal) that shows the brain responds the same to technology as it does to paper. I love technology and integrate it daily and where appropriate. I simply take the view that technology should supplement and not supplant teaching. I base all other decisions on research and currently, the research disagrees with both you and Ms. Rosen.

          • EmilyRosen77

            I think my approach is far more impassioned than juvenile. And I completely agree and wrote (someplace) that devices like ipads are indeed tools of delivery, collaboration, and communication that supplement, not supplant teaching. To be clear, I am not advocating a Univ of Phoenix world. Though Khan Academy and some MOOCS seem to be on to something…

          • Keri Lamle

            Ms. Love Life,

            In order to respond to your requests that I provide research.

            I would start by stating the need for both qualitative and quantitive research data be allowed.

            Q1. “not anecdotal”: I assume, you are requesting the research to be quantitative data not qualitative data? If this is correct, I would caution you from excluding qualitative research. I understand quantitative data (data usually numerical and often collected by measuring some sort of range, and then analyzed through a lens of statistical comparisons) may appear to provide an quick-fix when forming an opinion; however, qualitative data (usually gathered through case studies) has been proven to be a valuable tool in assessing how people think. To exclude qualitative research pertaining to how a person thinks, and then goes on to digests a learning experience, is questionable. This is especially so, if your goal is to provide a comprehensive summation on the impact of technology in education. I would argue qualitative research is not only relevant, it is essential to form an objective opinion. To further validate my position, I would reference:
            Minichiello, V. (1990). In-Depth Interviewing: Researching People. Longman Cheshire.

            It is argued that to focus on isolated pieces of behavior, as is most often the case in studies interested in collecting quantitative data, is rather superficial, and ignores the social context within which behavior takes place.


      • EmilyRosen77

        Hi Love Life, Thank you for your thoughtful reply. To be clear, I was merely trying to briefly summarize the challenges and rewards of integrating certain tech in the classroom while highlighting one of the most talked about impediments for those who wish to see more tech in schools (i.e., push back from some teachers/administrators). I felt compelled to do so based on my own experience and after reading several surprisingly negative comments here. As for using the word Luddites… I think it’s neither harsh nor inaccurate when describing those who oppose or delay programs that aim to integrate devices like tablets into classrooms. And while I would agree with you that in some situations students are currently better served by using pen/paper, I’m convinced the time is coming when that will no longer be the case either. I’m impassioned because I simply feel some districts/schools/admins/teachers are willfully ill-prepared for current technologies let alone what’s coming next. Not a plug and slightly out of scope, but the new book Second Machine Age does a very good job of describing how digital technologies are transforming our society, economy, and education delivery.

        • Keri Lamle

          I would like to say Ms. Rosen, I find your views to be refreshing and supportive. I think your posts (while they might appear to only be directed at those who do not share your view) are a welcome insight. I also feel that since this article references student views, and the young students quoted here are likely to be reading these posts, it is good for them to see someone in their corner cheering them on.

      • John Ostrander

        Love Life,
        while I agree with your remarks, I want to add to the thread at this juncture that the overall direction of the article, and the thread, is that we should let the students make the decisions. The article is all about what the students are saying.

        Given this spin on the report, why stop there? What do adults (and teachers) know anyway? We should allow them to make all the decisions and the rules. Then they can get up when they want, have class taught how they want with no homework, tests, and lots of free days. After all, they know better than us right?

        This generalization of what I’ve witnessed first hand for several years, as have countless others I’ve met with, is the attitude of some of these people that are trying to argue semantics. What the article insinuates, and what the sheep are saying is this is the next magic bullet, the end-all be-all solution and it will be. Then given time, it will be found this one didn’t work either.

        The current solution set is {throw money at schools}

  • Birdbrain McTailfeather

    I believe that devices are necessary in the classroom. However, Anthony Maineiro says it best. What happened to the field trips? Devices are necessary, but it’s important for students to experience the world. My own school field trips were fun and memorable learning experiences. The field trips are an integral part of education. Unfortunately, there’s only so much money. It’s a shame that they have been sacrificed.

    • EmilyRosen77

      This is a fair point but no decent school should cut field trips in order to use technology in the classroom. Tablets and other devices should be used to supplement experiences, not replace them. Encourage collaboration and creativity, not stifle it.

    • Keri Lamle

      How about taking the iPad on the field trip? Document the different types of plant life. Create a wiki as a community project. Have students research… collaborate… and share. Technology is best when it is used to enhance an existing lesson, not replace. Model how technology can be used responsibly. IMHO….Educators have a responsibility to mold the next generation and prepare them for this digitally connected world.

  • arobertjacques

    No differentiation between write (to compose) and write (to scribe)? Does this mean, then, that you’ve composed this comment using something like a wacom tablet and handwriting recognition? If drawing characters with a stylus is so important to setting us apart from chimps, I can’t possibly imagine that you’re okay with using a keyboard.

    • John Ostrander

      “To Scribe”? Is that how you were taught in school? You actually just proved my point. But because blogging and posting to news threads is amusing to me, please see following:

      scribe [skrahyb] noun
      1.a person who serves as a professional copyist, especially one who made copies of manuscriptsbefore the invention of printing.
      2.a public clerk or writer, usually one having official status.

      According to, and Webster’s.

      Not to split hairs, but I implicit definitions of “write” for many in terms of learning and/or education would be and was meant in my post (for those that know how to read analytically):

      write [rahyt]: verb (used with object), wrote or ( Archaic ) writ; writ·ten or ( Archaic ) writ; writ·ing.
      1. to express or communicate in writing; give a written account of.
      2. to compose and produce in words or characters duly set down: to write a letter to a friend.

      I’m sorry you missed the day English was taught in English class, but we all have to get by on our own devices.

      • Ken Tilton

        Why not answer his point, which was perfectly clear?

        ps. Try “define: scribe” in google.

        • John Ostrander

          Thanks for helping me out Ken. Your grammatically incorrect statement and use of Google to define English grammar only support me. Good luck with your iPad in your own educational endeavors.

          • arobertjacques

            Hey John,
            scribe |scrīb| verb
            1. chiefly literary, write
            2. mark with a scriber
            Source: New Oxford American Dictionary

            I trust you’re a better teacher than your crude, holier-than-thou comments would have us believe.

            Anyway, you still fail to respond to my question. If using a touch screen is barbaric, and pen-on-paper writing the only acceptable method of composition, where does that leave the keyboard you’re undoubtedly using to post here? At what point do you accept that the activity and the tools used to facilitate it are not one in the same?

          • John Ostrander

            Please tell me where I used the word “Barbaric”? Did I ever say pen and paper is the “only” acceptable method?

            Well, I’m using a keyboard because it’s attached to my computer, that should be obvious I would think, but there it is in case it wasn’t obvious to you. Um…. I do recall stating earlier that this entertains me, etc etc., and I wasn’t aware this was an assignment to be turned in for evaluation in which case I pull out my archaic writing instrument or instruments, apply them to a sheet of paper, and actually write. However, no matter hard I try, writing on paper or any other surface has failed to appear on my screen. I tried using telepathy, like professor Xavier on Xmen, but perhaps it is not my mutant talent. I’ll keep trying, because I’m optimistic it will work, perhaps I am only foolishly optimistic. However, until my tin foil hat starts working to put words on my screen, the keyboard will have to do. I am just a slave to modern society, in that I have to use email, correspond with my job, read stuff, write stuff, all of which are in an electronic medium which is very useful in many ways including, but not limited to, my own entertainment that includes provoking trolls on the internet.

            I can however use indentation, paragraphs, and punctuation. I even know to capitalize the first letter of a sentence, proper nouns, and particular abbreviations and acronyms. I can even read a clock, and read and write in cursive.

            All of the above is lacking in numbers that are alarming to me in today’s student populace, and I fail to see how “spell check” helps with literacy, or how an iPad is the solution to centuries of successful literacy education that was based on writing.

            I commend you on your use of the Oxford dictionary. I’ve used this also in the past, but prefer the more thorough and correct Webster’s unabridged (abridged is much nicer as it is not such a big book). Having attempted using Oxford products for Russian, German, and English, they just didn’t live up to the publications I was more used to, having had an education and all, of Langescheit’s language dictionaries, or the Webster’s dictionary of the English Language. It’s only a medium stretch in my mind when I compare Oxford to either Wikipedia, or the online Urban Dictionary.

            However, I did use it briefly in the past because each one was only about $3 at Walmart, and I had ordered the Russian and German dictionaries already, but they were in the process of shipping from some distant location. The English dictionary I pilfered from a classroom, it looked neglected and abandoned, and after attempting to use it for some simple grammatical reference for some papers I was writing (which were later published by the way) I then neglected said dictionary, and later abandoned it as well.

            I want to say the English dictionary had a cover price of $4.99, which may make it much better than either the Russian or German dictionaries.

            I don’t mean to nitpick…well… ok, I do want to nitpick that I didn’t exactly see a question in your post:

            “Why not answer his point, which was perfectly clear?”

            A point is not a query, it is a statement, and if anything, would warrant a response (but, so far nothing from you has yet to warrant a serious response from me) and I’m not so sure what you are trying to be clear on except that you are trolling and looking to make arguments that have no foundation, or point.

            You’re welcome.

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  • Chris

    Unfortunately, the opinions of 5 students do not represent a statistically significant sample. Just getting a few anecdotes and writing them down seems like pretty lazy reporting to me. It would be nice to see an analysis of a large group and find out what the majority of kids and teachers like or dislike about using iPads.

    • tbarseghian

      True, it would behoove us all to see analysis of a large group of students’ reactions to these kinds of questions. Unfortunately, as journalists we don’t have the capacity to carry out such a huge endeavor just yet. In the meantime, because we rarely do hear from students, we will continue to make their voices heard as often as possible, even if it’s just five at a time.

  • It must be tricky for schools to achieve the right balance between technology / freedom / education

  • It must be tricky for schools to get the balance right between technology / freedom / education

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  • Tracey Pleau

    I find my students using their Ipads for social networks and chat more than as a educational tool. These apps are not approved for school but they are easily hid from teachers. I think laptops are better for the older students because of all the writing we do.

    • EmilyRosen77

      Frankly this shouldn’t be a problem for ipad 1:1 deployments if your school’s IT manager is skilled in configuration of the basic settings as iOS and MDM allow for wireless setup of accounts, approved distribution/management of apps, control of accounts/apps, etc. Good luck.

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  • Mike

    I would be interested to know what ipad apps the school uses and has on their standard image…?

  • Keri Lamle

    You state iPads and other electronics are outdated every 6 to 12 months: What is this statistic based on? I know of several schools still using the same technology it purchased 2 or more years ago. The iPad 2 was 1st introduced on March 2, 2011 and it is still being sold in Apple stores today. I could argue e-books and textbooks tend to be comparable in price. Further, textbooks can be heavy, expensive, and out of stock. E-books are never out of stock, many can fit onto one reader, they have integrated dictionaries, and often include video illustrations to help the student get a better grasp of the material. With that said, the bottom line isn’t about which I feel is better. It is more a case of personal preference. Students should be allowed to have a voice in which book is better for them an ebook or a traditional textbook.

  • Pingback: What Students Think About Using iPads in School | MindShift | Notab-ILI-ty()

  • Ashley

    At first, I was apprehensive about implementing devices such as iPads into schools because it would seem that the students wouldn’t focus and would use it for playing games or surfing the internet. However, after reading this article my opinion has changed quite a bit. I like how multiple students were interviewed, and how both positive and negative feedback was shown in this article. While it seems like a long process for the teachers and tech staff, I do like that the school controls what apps are on the iPads. This is an accountability issue and gives the school a positive look by not just handing out iPads. I wonder if since the younger generation has adapted more to technology and are more tech-savvy, if they will find it more useful? Or would high school students give the same positive feedback?

  • Paulina

    Actually, I´m using tablets in class with Nearpod App, and children´s feedback is awesome. Technology is a tool that can definitely help a lot in class.

  • johan


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  • Shannon Chamberlin

    I am currently analyzing my dissertation research on students perceptions of mobile technology (specifically iPads). As a teacher myself, who uses these devices in a 1:1 implementation setting, any discussion of student perceptions need to be filtered through the effective use lens. As with all things involving students, their perceptions are based on what they are experiencing. In the case of technology, it may be transformative teaching or simply, fill this paper out using your iPad instead of a pencil. I am most interested in what students think and do when their teachers are truly changing the way they teach by utilizing these devices. That is the true measure of how effective mobile technology is or isn’t.

    Another issues which has been overlooked in this discussion is access. Regardless of what students think about iPads, they finally get to have an opinion because their school put a device in their hands. Hands that in many cases, would never get access to technology any other way. In a country that is desperate for computer scientists, the more exposure to technology we can give all kids, the brighter our future will be.


Katrina Schwartz

Katrina Schwartz is a journalist based in San Francisco. She’s worked at KPCC public radio in LA and has reported on air and online for KQED since 2010. She’s a staff writer for KQED’s education blog MindShift.

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