iPads in Victorian secondary schools

A recent initiative was launched by the State Government called iPads for Learning, whereby Apple iPads have been provisionally introduced into a small number of Victorian schools. The purpose of the ongoing trial is to take a piece of modern technology (the iPad) and make the most out of it in a learning environment. Asserting Victoria’s position as a region focused on progressive interactive learning, the iPad trial has so far been met with overwhelming positivity from the school communities involved. With one device per student, and quality digital resources on hand, the trial’s aim is to look at the impact of the iPad on students, teachers and parents, specifically regarding the shift from traditional learning resources to this emerging form of technology.

Primary, secondary and specialist school students (of varying ages) throughout Victoria have been taking part in the trial, allowing for an examination of the effects that the iPad can have on learning both at school and at home. In the modern digital world, where children of a young age are exposed to various online and virtual technologies, it is only natural that students are more inclined to learn in a manner to which they have become accustomed — a manner which not only is fun for them, but also informative. A number of applications have been developed by Apple for this purpose — from mathematicsfocused programs (such as ‘Mathination’, which deals predominantly with algebra equations) to iBooks for English and literature classes.

The success of the iPad at these schools has prompted other schools, such as Hawthorn Secondary College, Mooroolbark College and Ringwood Secondary College, to roll out the iPad for their students.

The iPad has also been used to aid students with communication difficulties and those who may otherwise have problems with reading and writing. Specialised applications have been created to help students articulate — through the iPad — what they are thinking and learning.

The interactive content engages the students in a way that is tailored to their learning and development needs. Given that digital technology plays such a key role in life outside of school, it is clear that using those same technologies in the classroom enables students to become more motivated and involved in learning. The iPad offers easy navigation through its touch screen, and built-in wireless connectivity allows for new applications to be downloaded easily. A list of relevant applications that have been purchased by schools undergoing the initial trial can be found on the website for the initiative — www.ipadsforeducation.vic.edu.au.

While the cost of the iPad may seem steep to some parents, it has been designed to replace the majority of textbooks and other expensive resources and does not need to be updated from year to year (aside from potential repair costs and the purchase of new applications). It can therefore be argued that the iPad pays for itself over a short period of time.

iPads for Learning commenced in 2010 at the following schools:

Dimboola Memorial Secondary College
Epsom Primary School
Manor Lakes P-12 Specialist College
Ringwood North Primary School
Royal Children’s Hospital Education Institute
Sunbury Downs Secondary College
Victorian College for the Deaf
Victorian College of the Arts Secondary College
Warringa Park School
Westall Secondary College

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