For Green Timbers Elementary students, using a computer for schoolwork was more of a chore than anything else. Having to use programs on aging machines that were years out of date helped students as much as possible, but now, thanks to a grant of 40 iPads to the school, those students are able to excel like never before.
Recently gifted to the school by Coast Capital Savings, the iPads doubled the school's computing power as it only had 42 desktops for the more than 540 students to use. Thanks to the iPad's interactivity, students are finding new and exciting ways to enhance their learning experiences that even desktops couldn't allow.
It's a shift noticed by Grade 4 teacher Robyn Thiessen, as her classroom makes use of the iPads each and every day.
"The shift has been very fast," she said. "A year and a half ago I taught in a more teacher-centred way but the iPads have allowed me to have a child-centred program."
What that means, said Thiessen, is that rather than her getting up in front of a class and telling things to the kids, they can now use their iPads to go online and do research, watch informative videos on YouTube and use interactive applications that require more critical thinking than just regurgitating information onto a worksheet.
"In my classroom there are iPads, we also use the cameras a lot to make videos and share their learning instead of using them as virtual work sheets," said Thiessen. We do that sometimes like multiplication tables but I think it's important for the kids to be using them as a creative and collaborative tool."
For Kim Warwick, who has a daughter in Thiessen's class and is president of the school's PAC, the iPads are simply the future of education, and she hopes to see more students continue along the same path.
"My daughter now does a good majority of her homework through technology and her spelling vocabulary, being in Grade 4 she's probably reading at a Grade 5, Grade 6 level," said Warwick. "Because the games and interactions are so much more important than spelling things on a paper, there's a huge leap in the understanding."
Warwick also notes the donation affords children who may not otherwise have an opportunity to use the devices a chance to develop skills required for their futures.
"Green Timbers is one of those schools that isn't really considered inner-city yet the population that supplies the school can be low-income," said Warwick. "There are a lot of kids who will never have the opportunity to get involved with technology and that's so important for kids these days. It's such an integral part of learning."