RUMFORD — When classes began this year at Mountain Valley High School, teaching and homework had changed.
After years of the students using laptop computers, they had to learn how to use iPads.
“It’s almost like typing on a phone,” freshman Emily Little said. “But I go to the library to use a larger keyboard.”
That was but one of the suggestions MVHS students made for students and staff who may be having a difficult time getting used to the new technology.
“It was a little confusing at first,” Emily said.
But now, nearly all students and staff are comfortable with the smaller tools.
Much of that is thanks to the IT Team — a group of students, with the assistance of teacher Jeff Bailey and IT head Peter Kemeriatis, who assist students and teachers in learning how to best use iPads for doing homework and assigning it, as well as how to access the many applications available.
Bailey, Kemeriatis and librarian Mary Gamble came up with the idea to pull together an IT Team to help out during this transition year. All students and staff who had laptops in both the high and middle schools changed to iPads this year.
“It’s the next step in the evolution of technology,” Assistant Principal Alan Cayer said. “It’s a necessity to keep up.”
RSU 10 is leasing the iPads from the Maine Learning Technology Initiative.
Besides using the library when a lot of typing must be done, some members of the IT team have other suggestions for making them easier to use.
Joey Robichaud, a junior, said a password should be set up immediately in case an iPad is lost or stolen. With a password, the machine can be tracked.
It’s also much smaller and lighter so it’s easier to carry, the team said. They suggested students buy a more substantial protective case than the one issued with each computer.
Some of the downsides to the iPads, according to the team, is the slower pace at which they work compared to a laptop, the type of keypad supplied with the device, and architectural programs can’t be added to them, sophomore Eric Deanis said.
But the advantages seem to outweigh the negatives.
More textbooks are included in the iPads as well as ebooks from the library, and, said freshman Eric Belanger, iPads are easier to use for fun when a student has some down time.
Although some classes continue to use traditional textbooks, many use books on the iPads. Teachers often assign homework over the iPads and students complete that homework and email it to the teacher when done.
Principal Matt Gilbert said the IT Team has received intensive training on the applications and the iPads. The device provides the most up-to-date applications and assists in sharing instruction.