By Amy Shen and Marie Saba
Tablets in school? Jamesville-DeWitt High School seniors Josh Gutmaker, Junghye Kim, and Shannon Theobald proposed to the school board the idea of using tablets in classrooms to update the technology in J-DHS.
A discussion in SUPA English, a course taken by Gutmaker, Theobald, and Kim, ignited their interest in helping create “a grander vision of what technology could look like” as Principal Paul Gasparini says. The three became the face of the project because they were the most interested and enthusiastic in the follow through of the tablet plan that they thought of in class. English teacher Connie Myers-Kelly teaches the SUPA course the three students take. She emphasizes that she’s really proud of the students because they worked for over two months researching and “they learned more doing that then in anything I planned,” says Mrs. Myers-Kelly.
But are the tablets a good idea? Gutmaker, Theobald, and Kim believe so. Theobald says students will “invest in their education” and have “many more oppurtunities for collaboration” if they have tablets in class. Gutmaker was inspired to go green. While looking at his “solid foot of paper,” aka his AP World binder, Gutmaker thought, “wouldn’t it be nice if I didn’t kill 30 trees to get an education?”
Tablets have many beneficial qualities in the classroom for learning and teaching. Students and teachers can have easier and faster access to notes and class activities, therefore “saving the trees, saving the earth, saving time, saving ink, and saving money,” says Gutmaker. Students without access to technology at home would also have constant access to techhology with these tablets.
What do J-DHS students think? Out of the 100 people polled, 67 believe this is a good idea while 20 disagree, and 13 are indecisive. Most people for the tablets agree that it is a more efficient device for learning. Junior Afua Addo thinks it’s good in terms of being able to write things down faster. Sophomore Kristina Bell agrees it’s a good idea, but only if the tablets are monitored. However, people against the tablets feel that it is more of a distraction to the students. Addo also thinks “it takes away from communicating with people,” and junior Hannah Schayes believes tablets will distract students.
Taxpayers may be curious as to how the school will fund these tablets. Kim, Theobald, Gutmaker, Mr. Gasparini, and Mrs. Myers-Kelly have been working very closely for the past month to work out the details of the tablet plan. “The devil is in the details,” says Mr. Gasparini. He isn’t sure if the school should encourage students to bring their own devices or have the school provide it for them. “The point is to get teachers and students used to this sort of interactive learning environment,” says Mr. Gasparini, which can be achieved with the use of tablets in school.
The idea of tablets in class is still a project in the works and more details about the budget and when and if the school will get the tablets is still in question. Mr. Gasparini compares tablets as being at the top of the hill, while we are still at the bottom. With lots of technological updates occurring this school year, like the adding of new smartboards and chromebook pilots, the process of bringing tablets into the classroom is still a developing idea. “In my opinion, [Kim, Theobald, and Gutmaker] won even if nothing ever comes with the tablet plan, they won because they learned some really great lessons,” says Mrs. Myers-Kelly.