iPads for Piper’s Hill pupils

Incoming first year pupils at Piper’s Hill College in Killashee, Naas are waving goodbye to schoolbags after the school decided to embrace technology and equip them with iPads.

Incoming first year pupils at Piper’s Hill College in Killashee, Naas are waving goodbye to schoolbags after the school decided to embrace technology and equip them with iPads.

The 172 new students were given their iPads last Friday, making Piper’s Hill the first school in Kildare to take this step and among the first in Ireland.

“Some schools are piloting with one class or small groups but we’ve decided to go all out,” said Principal Colm O’Connor, who speaks excitedly about the iPad’s potential in the classroom.

“It’s time to move with the times. Most kids are using technology from a young age and books can hold them back.”

All of the ‘Apps’, or application software, which provide the learning material were deployed on Friday. Principal O’Connor explained that iPads can “bring books to life”.

Teachers have also been equipped. “Kildare VEC provided all the teachers with iPads in June and they all received training in how to use them.”

According to Mr O’Connor, the iPad will benefit students of all abilities, including those with learning disabilities such as dyslexia.

The total cost of the iPad to parents will be €723. That can either be paid up front or on a one or three year loan with Naas Credit Union.

Mr O’Connor says this price compares with an average booklist cost of €400-450, but the iPad cost includes all the apps, insurance, accessories and remote management, which helps to control what students can do on the iPad.

The advance to the iPad does not spell the death of pen and paper completely - not yet at least. The Department of Education still requires the Junior and Leaving Certs exams to be hand written. So homework at Piper’s Hill will also still have to be done by hand.

“I have no doubt that every school in the country will be moving towards technology in the next few years.”

While Mr O’Connor admitted that there is “always a danger” that the technology could be a distraction, he believes the positives outweigh the negatives. “If you were always to look at the negative, you’d never do anything.”

- Liam Godinho