A quick tap of a screen can now define words, identify wildlife and answer questions in a second.
The Sooke School District is working on a plan to bring tablet computers into all the elementary, middle and high schools in the area.
“We are rolling out the iPad strategy in the next two years,” said School District 62 superintendent Jim Cambridge.
Students often carry heavy knapsacks loaded with textbooks, but soon they may have the option to trade in the weight for a small tablet computer with all the textbooks downloaded onto it.
While tablet computers may be the way of the future SD 62, Cambridge is quick to point out there will always be a place for books in the schools.
“We want personalized education. Some kids need three books open in front of them covered in sticky notes to learn. If we made all students use iPads, that would be standardized learning, not personalized,” he said.
Some students already have access to tablets at the schools, but Cambridge said more will be added to each school. Belmont secondary school has some blended learning classes that act as a cross between distance learning and a traditional classroom. Students in these classes already have the option to use electronic text books or paper ones.
“Some kids learn better by handwriting, everybody has their ability learn in their own style,” Cambridge said. “Books are important they are something that will be a part of out future hopefully forever.”
All of the assignments are online and the students can login and work at their own pace.
“I thought all the students would use the computers, but some prefer the books because they say they get distracted by Facebook,” Cambridge said. “It just depends on the kids.”
At this point the school district is undecided on what brand of computers to invest in, “It’s not the hardware that’s important.”
Cambridge enjoys taking his own iPad with him and showing different apps from Myscript Calculator, which is popular with the students. He can doodle math problems with his finger on the screen and the question is solved in seconds.
Books on tablet have functions that aren’t possible on a traditional textbook. In an electronic version, Cambridge showed how a student can highlight a word on the page and up pops the definition.
“Why use a thesaurus when you can just click on the word and find six other options for ‘rent,’” he said.