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Frosh Mats To Get iPads; Class Envy Breaks Out

Textbook? Ptui... starting next year, about 200 lucky Matadors will be getting shiny new iPads to help them handle their scholastic workload.

 

The Mirador

The perks of being a freshman at a privileged school like Miramonte are undeniable: a new sense of freedom you didn’t have in middle school, rallies, new friends, and as of next year, a shiny new batch of iPads.

Next year, around half the class of 2016 will receive iPads in two core classes: English and history. To many upperclassmen, this will be seen as grossly unfair and perhaps even excessive.

“It was a team decision,” said Principal Adam Clark. “I okayed it. It’s a pilot, which will hopefully produce a difference in work ethic.”

Essentially, a pilot program is a trial run to test out the effects of the soon-to-be newly integrated equipment. Over the past few years, students may have seen or used iTouches and iPads every once in a while from a portable cart at school, but never before has Miramonte supplied these devices to students as their own personal tools to bring home.

The pilot will work in this way: around 200 incoming freshmen will be randomly selected to partake in the “experiment.” There are already designated iPad English and history classes earmarked for this new type of learning. On MATS Day this coming August, when the incoming freshmen receive their new schedules, they will learn whether or not they were chosen to be part of the pilot. Once a student is selected to be part of the program, participation is mandatory. Otherwise, the student’s schedule would have to be completely rearranged.

What the administration may have overlooked is the very plausible likelihood of an uproar from the parents of the iPad kids who may not be comfortable entrusting them with the rental of a nearly $500 gadget. Those students who weren’t lucky enough to be randomly selected or those who’d frankly rather learn the old fashioned way, by textbook, may feel that the chosen students have an unfair advantage.

Just like a textbook, students will be obligated to sign a release form which, according to Vice Principal Michael McAlister, will include a nominal insurance plan. Even so, it will be necessary to pay a certain sum up front to cover any potential loss or damage.

There are some obvious benefits of using an iPad over a traditional textbook. For one, there’s that cool factor of pulling a shiny, new iPad out of your backpack instead of a heavy, dog-eared textbook. Also, an iPad is significantly lighter and more portable. McAlister emphasized that the weight of the iPad wasn’t a major factor in the decision, but acknowledge that it is a side benefit. Lastly, it is much easier to pull information from an iPad using the search bar to find key words or definitions without the hassle of flipping through pages.

However, for most students the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. Two hundred brand new iPads just isn’t a good use of money in a school that has a very tight budget. Besides, the majority of the school population already has smart phones which are commonly used to look up information during class. Plus, it’s very likely that Orinda parents whose children don’t have iPads at school will argue that this new program is unfair towards the majority of Miramonte students who aren’t involved.

Of course, a question on the minds of the many envious upperclassmen will remain: why freshmen? According to McAlister, the idea of the pilot being presented to the upper grades was mainly a scheduling issue. The administration can schedule history and English classes far more easily with freshmen than with seniors.

“When freshmen come on to this campus, there’s enthusiasm almost built in. We can use this pilot as a comparison, those with iPads and those without. It was the best data pool in which to pull information” said McAlister.

However, most upperclassmen would agree that it will be frustrating to see freshmen walking around campus with iPads in hand, as they themselves continue to lug around heavy books.

 

The Mirador Editorial Board Voted 8-3

against freshmen receiving iPads

Orinda mom May 29, 2012 at 07:27 PM
The story doesn't say where the funding is coming from--a major oversight, IMHO. I suspect, though, that it's from the Miramonte Parents' Club, not district funding. Does anyone know?
Ann May 29, 2012 at 08:02 PM
I could be mistaken, but Measure E technology funds are going to make this purchase. This article is a re-print from a student publication and smacks from sour grapes because it is the Freshman who are receiving the new technology. The source of the funding is a crucial piece of background research that should have been included in the article, since the writer explicitly states that it is not a good use of money in a school with a tight budget. In fact, textbooks are very expensive and require updating periodically, sometimes at the direction of the State Dept. of Ed. regardless of whether it fits into a school's current spending priorities. More and more text material is available online at a lower cost than puchasing new textbooks, so in the long run, money could actually be saved by issuing iPads. Note that iPads are far less costly than personal computers.
White Rabbit May 29, 2012 at 09:32 PM
I think it's a great idea. This is the new wave of the future and you have to start somewhere; so, why not give 200 young kids the opportunity to be the first to try it out. I do agree that there should be the option of opting out if the child or parent wants to.
Yoni Mayeri June 21, 2012 at 07:35 PM
I'm glad to see MHS is finally embracing the use of technology vs. forbidding the use of tech devices as study guides.
Justine Parmelee July 03, 2012 at 04:12 PM
I'm curious why the school would choose iPads when you can get a Samsung Galaxy Tab for about $250 or a no-name brand for as low as $100. Why spend that extra money on Apple when all the kids really need is e-readers with internet functionality?

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