Dr. Imperial’s iPad Letter

Technology is a pervasive element in the daily lives of high school students.  Now that tablet technology has become educationally and financially practical, we believe the next step is to empower students to use technology in the classroom as they interact daily with the teachers and the subject matter.

Tablet devices have expanded education’s boundaries. Specifically, the iPad is qualitatively different than a laptop. Light and mobile, it is a window into the world and allows for instant communication in multiple media. It places in the hands of every student the potential to do sophisticated academic research with remarkable depth and immediacy. Tablets cannot yet replace all books, but the digital resources they place in students’ hands are a startling improvement on high school textbooks.

Until recently, the integration of technology into daily use by students was prohibitively costly. That is no longer the case. Our cost analyses indicate that the adoption of a one-to-one program will be cost-neutral in as little as two years, as textbooks give way to apps, digital textbooks, and other online sources, many of which are low-cost or free.  Non-economic benefits include a reduction in the weight of the backpacks students carry around and in the amount of paper students print out each month; it will also reduce the need for students to go their lockers between each class.

Saint Mary’s is purposefully working to shift the nature of the classroom learning experience. Students need the appropriate tools and skills to accomplish that shift. We believe the iPad is the best tool for that purpose. We also believe that students will be better prepared for postsecondary life through daily use of tablet technology.

Saint Mary’s requires students to bring an iPad to school daily. We examined numerous tablet options in our research. The availability of educational apps for the iPad significantly exceeds competitors, and the uniformity in presentation by using a single platform provides enormous educational advantages.

The iPad is not a panacea. It is a tool, as are graphing calculators, compasses, and paperback novels. Teachers know when to ask students to listen, discuss in groups, do a lab, write a paper, do research in a library, and use a laptop or tablet computer. None of that will change, other than students’ universal access to an essential tool.  We are convinced that the most important catalyst in our education is our faculty. We are blessed to have committed professionals who embrace this technology as a way to facilitate learning.