‘New gadgets’ come with age-old concerns in Buffalo Grove schools
Renee Feiger, 12, of Buffalo Grove, does her school work on an iPad on Friday at Aptakisic Jr. High in Buffalo Grove. | Joe Shuman~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 20, 2012 12:04PM
BUFFALO GROVE — The bad news: If the students are cheating, they are doing so in ways that the educators cannot detect.
The good news: They are never, ever forgetting anything important at school because all their homework, books and notes are intrinsic parts of their most prized possessions, their school-issued iPads.
At Monday’s meeting of the Aptakisic-Tripp Elementary District 102 School Board, assistant superintendent Bob Hudson led a presentation of his findings from the recently returned surveys of parents, teachers and students about iPad use. Before that meeting, while looking over the results with superintendent Theresa Dunkin and chief technology officer Tom Donvan, Hudson said the survey’s indications were “overwhelmingly positive.”
“Some of the comments from parents had to do with ‘No more lost papers,’” he said, while other parents said it was easier to get their kids to do homework.
“They’re somewhat more concerned about the time their children are spending on their iPads,” Hudson added, “which is a concern we share.”
At the start of this school year, District 102 issued just under 500 tablets to its fifth- and seventh-grade classes; the younger students must leave theirs in the classrooms, but the older kids take theirs home. At the semester’s midpoint, Hudson sent surveys to all of those classes’ parents, teachers and students, querying about use and abuse. He received back 150 responses from parents, 322 from students and 30 from teachers.
The results: 87 percent of parents say the new technology has had a positive effect on homework, and 88 percent say it has had a positive effect on organizational skills.
So far, the kids have shown themselves to be responsible with their tablets: Hudson said none have been lost and only about a dozen have suffered enough damage to need repair.
“When they really want something, they take care of it,” said Dunkin. “And they’re taking really good care of their iPads.”
The teachers reported no increased observance of cheating, and the students overwhelmingly self-reported that they were not using any of the new ways to hoodwink that the iPads provide. Dunkin said parents needed to remember that the technology also opens up new opportunities for kids to work with teachers and classmates, giving them new opportunities to learn their material.
“All of those traditional concerns aren’t being realized,” she said. “When 90 percent of students are self-reporting an increase in learning, you kind of stop worrying about that.”
Apple builds their tablets to be entertainment devices as well, and educators are coping with that side of their initiative. Aptakisic Junior High principal Jessica McIntyre wrote in her Nov. 2 blog that her staff had removed a few applications that were becoming a distraction. On the surveys, some parents wrote of not being able to tell if their child was really doing homework or playing a game.
Dunkin said that her staff was equipped to handle even the latest permutations of cheating and goofing around — problems that have plagued educators since the invention of homework.
“It’s all age-old concerns, and just new gadgets.”