The Impact of iPads

Hana Ahmad, Writer

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A rhythm of taps and clicks resonates inside a classroom of juniors at Flower Mound High School. Murmurs of indistinct conversations drift across the room. Students hunch over iPads, their fingers lightly drumming across glass screens smudged with fingerprints and indiscernible residue. A few students have abandoned the dated tablets for personal computers, and decide to bring their laptops in lieu of their iPads. Most of the iPads are enclosed in one of the various black, rubber protective cases issued by the school. Some of the tablets openly display their deterioration over nearly five years, struggling to stay confined in broken and ripped cases.

These issues have led many to ask: are iPads worth it?

In the 2012-2013 school year Lewisville Independent School District distributed iPads to nearly 10,000 7th grade students. These students are now juniors in high school and have mixed feelings on the benefits of the Apple product.

According to LISD’s comprehensive expense report, the iPads have “a five year estimated useful life.” This school year, 2017-2018, is the fourth year that the iPads have been in use. The iPads have already shown a deterioration in quality, with buffering and extreme lagging.

When students have an assignment due the next day, a slow iPad can prevent students from performing to their best ability. For instance, when many students type on their iPads, the words appearing on the screen are delayed. It can become very frustrating very quickly.

One student believes that “students need technology that is more compatible with other resources.” Compatibility is a large issue with the district-issued iPads. Teachers often complain about the glitches in the use of certain applications, such as Google Classroom, on the iPads.

Students are encouraged to use Google products; for instance, Google Docs or Google Drive, but the iPads work much better with the applications which were specifically created to use with Apple products, such as Pages or Keynote. Some programs are simply unreliable and do not  function properly on iPads.

The iPads were originally meant to be an innovative use of technology in and out of the classroom. Students now have quick access to seemingly limitless knowledge and information. In truth, iPads can provide a useful function in some classroom situations. Students can work collaboratively on a presentation in class, without the need to check out a limited supply of laptops that may not be available for use. Students can also quickly research a topic to gain some background knowledge, or get ahead on assignments by being able to work on them in class.

There are many possibilities in learning with iPads, many of which the district may have imagined when deciding to purchase the iPads, but it is unrealistic to disregard the issues that come with the iPads.

Although the iPads can be beneficial in the classroom, they can also provide an abundance of distractions. It takes extreme self-constraint and self-discipline in some students to keep themselves focused and alert, and the iPads only create greater distractions. Students may not pay attention to the teacher as they can become too absorbed into their technology. This takes away from their education rather than enhancing their education, as some supporters of the iPads argue.

The iPads are also regarded as a further step for the district in integrating technology into the classroom. Students can become more familiar with various applications and websites that may prove useful further on in students’ academic careers and/or professions. Technology is used in all facets of life, and in most career paths. The iPads can facilitate an increase technological fluency in all students, not just those who can afford technology or have it at home. The iPads are also viewed by some as a useful tool in giving all students easy access to the internet.

The price point for the iPads has raised concerns from students and parents alike.

The iPads themselves have brought an unprecedented amount of additional costs for the district. By 2014, there were “at least 483 iPads — totaling more than $79,000 — [that] have been reported lost, stolen or damaged.” This figure has most likely climbed significantly in the past three years.

Although, it is worth noting that the $79,000 accounted for only around two percent of the iPads. Some believe that the money spent on the iPads could have been utilized in different areas, such as in teacher salaries. The district during the previous administration spent around $103 million on iPads and only spent around $57 million on teachers annually.

The students initially paid a $50 deposit when receiving their iPads, and every year they must pay $40 in insurance. A student who has has had their iPad for around four and a half years, meaning they obtained their iPads in the seventh grade, would have paid a total of $250 by 2017. However, if someone were to purchase the same iPad distributed by LISD now, a product which Apple no longer even sells, it would cost around $165- a price which varies, of course, based on the seller.

Whether the iPads have had a negative or positive impact on students is difficult to determine, but one question remains: what will happen next year when the iPads are apparently obsolete, by LISD’s estimation?


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The Impact of iPads