Can iPads Eliminate Textbooks?
School Committee hears presentation outlining how iPads could replace textbooks.
Are textbooks irrelevant? To hear science teacher Nicholas Rath tell it, they are outdated practically before they even reach the hands of the students they mean to serve.
That's why last year Rath applied for — and received — a grant for 45 iPads so that his students could access the most up-to-date information.
School Committee members were each given an iPad for part of last Tuesday's meeting to get a sense of what living digitally could mean. The demonstration included words within the text where definitions would be available with a simple click. Note taking could be done right there too. Most significantly, teachers and students could essentially create their own textbooks.
Students would not only be freed of some organizational tasks — fewer handout to keep track of, for instance — but also they would also be able to access the most up-to-date information.
While School Committee members were enthusiastic about the technology, Chairwoman Deidre Gifford implored staff members to hold off purchasing new devices until the school department was sure which way it wanted to go.
"We have a history of doing piecemeal technology," she said. "Let’s not do it bit by bit."
Another aspect of the possible switch is professional development for the teachers.
"It’s more than just the cost of the iPads," said Supt. Victor Mercurio. "There’s significant cost in professional development."
The presentation was advisory. The hope is that budget money would be found to be able to invest in 1-1 iPads or tablets for all high school students.