NEWS: Trading MacBooks for iPads

A transition from MacBooks to iPads for all USD 497 high school students begins next school year


Maddie McIntire

Senior Ashanti Riccardo draws on an iPad using a pen. Next year, students will be given a pen along with their iPad to allow similar functionality.

For six years, USD 497 high school students have been provided with MacBooks for school; however, the school board has opted to transition to iPads next year.

The board made the decision on Jan. 23, following a difficult conversation regarding ways the school budget could be cut. They estimate saving approximately $1.3 million per year by transitioning to iPads.

According to the District Technology Services Department, they also considered transitioning to other devices such as Windows and Chromebooks, but found that transitioning to a different platform would have created more challenges than those posed by iPads. They based their results off of adaptability, potential cost savings, and durability.

“The iPad came out on top in all three areas and is the closest device to our current technology to ease transition,” David Vignery, the district technology director said at the board meeting.

To evaluate how iPads may potentially affect student’s abilities to learn, Vignery asked teachers to volunteer for a trial run.

“During the week of Oct. 10, we provided each participant an iPad, keyboard, mouse and case,” Vignery said. “We encouraged them to use the iPad as much as possible with coursework and homework during the pilot program, so they could provide meaningful feedback to the district at the end of the first semester.” 

Math teacher Rita Phillippi was one teacher who volunteered to pilot the experiment, and said she found somewhat varying results.

Phillippi stated she feels very optimistic about the iPads and expressed that the keyboard and pen made it easy to write notes, solve problems and upload work to google classroom.

Sophomore Ady McLenon, a student in Phillippi’s class that was piloting iPads, had the opportunity to use an iPad for the month-long trial.

“My experience with the iPad was mixed,” McLenon said. “Some parts of math were much better because I could draw and use my own handwriting.”

However, McLenon also explained that the iPads may not be quite as efficient as MacBooks.

“There were a lot of things you need to keep track of, and I realized that the battery life on the iPad is much shorter than the ones on the computer,” McLenon said.