Pilot Program works well for both teachers and students

Bridget Davis, Videographer/ Video Editor

Mikela Mollanazar and Mary Green, Achona Staff Report

With the Pilot Program heading into its eighth week, members from each grade have expressed positive reactions about the usefulness of the iPads, e-readers, iPhones,  Droid smart phones, and laptops that they brought with them to class.

The freshman class won out on the most classes with teachers participating in the program.  English teacher Mrs. Beth Sawyer said, “It was exciting each day to see the freshmen come to class each day ready to work.”

Ms. Danielle Groenen, freshman physics teacher, and Mrs. Deb Collins, mathematics teacher,  developed different lessons that students could use to better understand their topics of study.  As Golden Girls moderators, they had their club leaders create the Spirit Week Pep Rally contest questions on Socrative.com, a favorite app used by many teachers in the program.

The Pilot Program ushered in pros and cons from the sophomore class.  Pros included saving time by taking pictures of homework and the opportunity to instantly research information. Also, students found themselves saving paper and becoming more organized by typing notes in their phones.

Bridget Davis conveyed her love for the pilot program in Media and Values.   “It was so easy to type up notes and email them to myself!”

Other sophomores tempered their praise with the concern that too much technology was overstimulating.  Many were distracted during class by texts or games. Also, students felt that using technology was only practical for certain subjects. For example, they felt that devices used in English were more helpful than in math because they prefer doing math the old fashioned way.  However, senior Jenn Compton has embraced doing all of her subjects on her iPad by finding apps that would work for each subject. (See video)

Some students who have larger laptops did not see an advantage.  Jess Riddles said,  “My laptop is hard to transfer to and from school.”

Academy’s seniors found the Pilot Program to be a true timesaver. Instead of having to take copious handwritten notes in classes like Mrs. Beth Chase’s Government and Politics, they have been able to type them up quickly. Additionally, the access to devices  saved time when working on class projects. In Sister Ann Regan’s Social Justice class, one student said she could work on a PowerPoint while other students used their devices to type up summaries.

Students have also conserved paper by emailing teachers their homework so many environmentally aware students favor this positive outcome. Further, they feel that the devices help them avoid redundancy. Some teachers have downloaded PowerPoints online prior to their discussion, allowing all students to avoid writing information that is readily available online.

Many felt that devices enhanced learning. During Harkness discussions in English, the students enjoyed being able to bring Kindles to highlight and make notes, which they could not do with the class-distributed paperback copies of novels.  Some enterprising students found apps that allowed them to take notes on their concept maps, which they uploaded to sites like HyLighter or pdfNotes.

Students saw benefits across all disciplines. Alex Prado said that using programs like Graphmatica “made it easier to visualize challenging topics in Calculus.”

Despite the convenience of not having to lug around as many notebooks, distraction was a drawback of the program.  Teachers agree that the smaller the screen, the harder it is to ensure that students are staying on task with school work.

Senior English teacher Mrs. Edie LeBas said,  ” With only one laptop cart to share in the Bayshore Building, all of us pilot teachers have liked the fact that our students are bringing devices so that we can use technology more often in our classes.”