For some Lake Zurich High School students, iPads have replaced books, notepads and trips to the library. The all-in-one technological resource is being used by 90 students in a pilot program this year.
The iPad program is being used in three environmental science Advanced Placement (AP) classes and one regular environmental science class, however, the students have access to the iPads all day.
The iPads allow students access to educational apps and research sites such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which students recently used to learn about the carbon cycle. The students can also pull up the teacher’s notes on the iPad and annotate them. After learning about the carbon cycle, students in Laura Cohen’s AP class, were able to draw out the cycle with a stylus, directly onto their iPads.
“I feel the iPads are letting the kids learn in their own way. They are learning the way adults would learn in the real world,” Cohen said.
“The students love using the iPads for note taking. It keeps them very engaged in note taking," said science teacher Julie Gyarmaty.
Gyarmaty said students are able to make data tables and graphs with Excel, which are useful skills for the real world.
“In the real world, nobody is making a graph by hand anymore,” she said.
Gyarmaty was planning a tree identification field trip to Ryerson Woods. The students would be able to look up identifying characterstics of trees on their iPads, and also look up buckthorn identification, before delving into buckthorn removal.
Cohen said about half of the students had used an iPad previously.
Kaleigh Trunnell, a senior, said she enjoys being one of the students to use an iPad.
“I really like it because you can easily look things up. You always have a tool with you in your other classes,” she said.
Emily Hack, a junior, agreed, saying that previously she would have to go to the library for computer access.
Senior Matt Feo said he enjoys taking notes on the iPad, but he considers it a challenge to do everything on the iPad. He said he sometimes just likes to use paper.
Eric Hamilon, assistant principal of curriculum and instruction at LZHS, praised the teachers who have taken on the challenge of using iPads in the classroom. He said the students are also helping with the learning curve.
“The skills kids are learning are phenomenal. When a student finds an app they like, they do demos of the app for the class,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton said the results of the pilot program will determine whether administration can go to the school board and ask for an expansion of the program.
Hamilton said, so far, results of the pilot program have been positive.
“We’re seeing that the kids are more engaged with their studies,” he said.
The cost of the program was just under $52,000, funded by the school district, according to Jean Malek, director of communications and community relations for the district.